Imagining the Course of Lifeby Nancy Eberhardt
Drawing on long-term fieldwork in a Shan village in northern Thailand, Nancy Eberhardt illustrates how indigenous theories of the life course are connected to local constructions of self and personhood. In the process, she draws our attention to contrasting models in the Euro-American tradition and invites us to reconsider how we think about the trajectory of a human life. Bringing together work from the fields of psychological anthropology, cultural history, and Southeast Asian studies, Imagining the Course of Life speaks to a wide range of readers and will be of interest to students and scholars of anthropology, religious studies, human development, and moral philosophy.
received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently professor of anthropology at Knox College. Her research interests include religion, psychological anthropology, subjectivity and modernity, and social inequality.
What others are saying
“Nancy Eberhardt’s study of a Shan village in northwest Thailand analyzes religion, worldview, ritual, and customary practices as strategies for identity construction and for insight into Shan theories of human development and human nature. It is a marvelous explication of the dialectic between cultural forms and personal interpretations and makes a unique contribution to the field of ethnopsychology.”—Donald K. Swearer, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
“This is a splendid book about how some Shan people deal with human life stages in thought, word, and action. These villagers are not sophisticated theologians, just ordinary people working their way through life’s problems. Through them, Eberhardt offers a superb portrayal of how Buddhist ideas of merit, karma, and reincarnation are actually understood and acted on. The book is a joy to read, treating complex matters in a way that will hold the interest of generalists and students even as it informs the specialist.” —Karl G. Heider, University of South Carolina
“Imagining the Course of Life is a delightful, moving ethnography. It is exceptionally well written and highly engaging in style and content. Nancy Eberhardt makes a valuable contribution to both Southeast Asian studies and to wider debates in ethnopsychology and human development. Moreover, she does so in a way that is unusually readable and accessible to multiple audiences.”—Mary Beth Mills, Colby College