9780801488344

Reckoning with Homelessness (The Anthropology of Contemporary Issues)

Hopper, Kim

ISBN 10: 0801488346 / 0-8014-8834-6
ISBN 13: 9780801488344
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
"It must be some kind of experiment or something, to see how long people can live without food, without shelter, without security."—homeless woman, Grand Central Station, winter"Homelessness is a routine fact of life on the margins. Materially, it emerges out of a tangled but unmysterious mix of factors: scarce housing, poorly planned and badly implemented policies of relocation and support, dismal prospects of work, exhausted or alienated kin. . . . Any outreach worker could tell you that list would be incomplete without one more: how misery can come to prefer its own company."—from the bookKim Hopper has dedicated his career to trying to correct the problem of homelessness in the United States. In his powerful book, he draws upon his dual strengths as anthropologist and advocate to provide a deeper understanding of the roots of homelessness. He also investigates the complex attitudes brought to bear on the issue since his pioneering fieldwork with Ellen Baxter twenty years ago helped put homelessness on the public agenda.Beginning with his own introduction to the problem in New York, Hopper uses ethnography, literature, history, and activism to place homelessness into historical context and to trace the process by which homelessness came to be recognized as an issue. He tells the largely neglected story of homelessness among African Americans and vividly portrays various sites of public homelessness, such as airports. His accounts of life on the streets make for powerful reading.

Review:
"Part ethnography, part memoir; part chronicle, part social analysis; and—reversing the author’s own characterization—decidedly more poetry than plumbing, Reckoning with Homelessness weaves scholarship, fieldwork, and advocacy into an elegant accounting and a plain good read. Hopper offers a rare and valuable behind-the-scenes look at the intellectual career of an applied anthropologist. The book is a must not only for students of homelessness but also for those with a broader interest in how anthropology happens."—Norma Ware, Harvard Medical School

"Kim Hopper takes us on several intertwined journeys that stimulate new ways of thinking about homelessness, social policy, advocacy, and anthropology. His book offers recent history, challenging analyses of why we have homelessness and prospects for its elimination, and reflections on the accomplishments and challenges of advocacy. In addition, his book reveals an anthropologist at work, adapting and adopting methods, insight, and self to the undersides of the often ugly but surprisingly resilient urban world of the streets."--Martha R. Burt, Urban Institute, Washington DC

"In its poetic sensibility, passion, and political purpose, Kim Hopper's tale of homelesness in the United States rivals George Orwell's classic account of unemployment in pre-war Britain. Based on more than 20 years' research and advocacy for those who learn to survive on almost nothing, this is an ethnography told with humility and eloquence."--Shirley Lindenbaum, CUNY Graduate Center

"There are many simple, straightforward accounts of contemporary American homelessness. All of them are wrong. In this book, Kim Hopper gives us as complete and nuanced an understanding as we are likely ever to find in print. Hopper situates American homelessness, particularly in the culturally archetypal streets and shelters of New York City, in all the essential dimensions: historical, cultural, socioeconomic, political, human. Sacrificing neither clarity nor compassion, Hopper has produced a gracefully humane rendering of homelessness in the richest city and country on earth, as a new millennium takes shape."---Gary Blasi, UCLA School of Law

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