Earlier this week, Google celebrated the 125th birthday of Zora Neale Hurston. Best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching G-d (which has one of the most suspenseful and gut-wrenching scenes I’ve ever read), Hurston was also an trained anthropologist. Much of her non-fiction work consists of the retold folktales she uncovered during interviews in the deep south during the Great Depression.
Anthropologists as writers
This got me thinking about the whole issue of writers with training in anthropology. While I never actually “practiced anthropology” professionally, I have a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and feel that the reading, classwork, and fieldwork I did during my training has had a deep and lasting influence on my writing (and teaching and pretty much everything else I do, by the way).
Hurston and I are in good company. Continue reading