Dancing Skeletons by Katherine Dettwyler
posted by Susan on .
I am rather curious to find out how the idea of ethnocentrism is displayed in the novel "Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa" by Katherine A. Detwyler.
Here are some book reviews on that book.
First, Dancing Skeletons is an ethnography, not a novel. The former is a non-fiction, written description of a culture. The latter is a work of fiction.
Second, a good representation of ethnocentrism can be found on pages 27-35. Ethnocentrism is that tendency to compare another culture to your own, with a bias towards your own. Often this is a tendency to see your own culture as centrally important or "better" in some way, but for many anthropologists like Dettwyler, understanding her own ethnocentric bias and balancing it with what she observed was vital in understanding the culture she was writing about. In the pages above, we see an example where the reader is challenged to examine his/her own ethnocentrism. The right point of view to be had after reading these pages might not be that the other culture is right in its practices.
I'll leave you with these clues and a hope that you read her short ethnography. It truly is both entertaining and enlightening.
By the way, the review in the first link above is written by me.