Dancing Skeletons Essay

2599 Words Apr 22nd, 2012 11 Pages
Meagan Conrad
ANT-103
Rough Draft
March 16, 2012
Transfixed by Dancing Skeletons Katherine Dettwyler’s work in the field while she was in West Africa was exciting, filled with humor and even terrifying at times. She dealt with seeing various life-threatening diseases that affected the lives of children her daughter’s age, as well as adults. Dettwyler found that almost all of the people she came in contact with were completely oblivious and uninformed of the ways to prevent diseases such as malaria, Schistosomiasis, malnutrition and other infectious diseases unique to their region of the world. In her book, Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa (1994), Dettwyler discusses tons of the health problems she comes across, in
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Over time Katherine got more used to the idea of female circumcision because it was just apart of the Malian’s culture. She explained that it involved the removal of the clitoris and the removal of the hood of the clitoris. After they removed the labia majora they would then stitch the edges together in order to prevent the women from having sex. Once the women were married they would be cut back open, allowing the husband sexual intercourse. Katherine made sure to ask plenty of questions so that she would fully understand their culture and why they did this terrifying act. She spoke to her good friend Agnes and told her about our customs here in the United States, and how the boy is usually circumcised, not the girl! Agnes was shocked that Katherine wasn’t circumcised and couldn’t believe her husband still wanted to marry her knowing that. Katherine tried to make trade to show Agnes her uncircumcised vagina, if Agnes would show Katherine her circumcised one. Agnes just tumbled over with laughter and Katherine’s curiosity was left to her imagination! I believe her understanding attitude toward their cultures customs were taken like a true anthropologist. Although it was hard for Katherine to see young girls in such pain she understood there was nothing she could do and she accepted their traditions.

Choosing informants is important and I believe all of the people Katherine came into contact with seemed
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