Esperanza Speaks: Confronting a Century of Global Change in Rural Panama

By Gloria Rudolf

© 2021

Esperanza Speaks examines a century-long process of socioeconomic change in rural Panama through the experiences of one woman, Esperanza Ruiz, and four generations of her family. The intimate narrative shows how ordinary people, through their choices and actions, are affected by and, in turn, can affect how history unfolds. Readers see Esperanza’s family as both victims and protagonists in their own histories. Born into rural poverty with limited options, they still find small openings to try to improve their lives. Sometimes successful, sometimes not, they survive by drawing on their only abundant resource: each other. Based on twenty field visits over the course of fifty years, Esperanza Speaks is the result of a dedicated anthropologist’s long-term engagement with the individuals of a single community, and a beautiful example of ethnographic storytelling.

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Product Details

  • Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Illustrations: 19
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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SKU# HE000775

  • PUBLISHED APR 2021
    From: $26.95
    ISBN 9781487594695
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2021

    From: $52.50

    Regular Price: $70.00

    ISBN 9781487594701
  • PUBLISHED APR 2021
    From: $21.95
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Quick Overview

This short, engaging book details the life history of Esperanza Ruiz and four generations of her family. Their stories recount a century of change in a poor highland community in Panama, and how ordinary people struggle, survive, and impact history.

Esperanza Speaks: Confronting a Century of Global Change in Rural Panama

By Gloria Rudolf

© 2021

Esperanza Speaks examines a century-long process of socioeconomic change in rural Panama through the experiences of one woman, Esperanza Ruiz, and four generations of her family. The intimate narrative shows how ordinary people, through their choices and actions, are affected by and, in turn, can affect how history unfolds. Readers see Esperanza’s family as both victims and protagonists in their own histories. Born into rural poverty with limited options, they still find small openings to try to improve their lives. Sometimes successful, sometimes not, they survive by drawing on their only abundant resource: each other. Based on twenty field visits over the course of fifty years, Esperanza Speaks is the result of a dedicated anthropologist’s long-term engagement with the individuals of a single community, and a beautiful example of ethnographic storytelling.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Illustrations: 19
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "Gloria Rudolf provides a close-up, heartfelt view of the ways one woman and her family struggle with poverty and rely on the strength of an ever-changing mosaic of kinship and friendship relations. Esperanza Speaks is a beautiful book – a paean to a lifetime collaboration and, at the same time, a record of experienced globalization. Lived and living history at its best."


    Hans C. Buechler, Syracuse University

    "Beautifully written and dramatically presented, this volume examines a half century of social change in rural Panama. Told through the eyes of the author’s collaborator and friend of fifty years, Esperanza’s story shows how the life history approach in anthropology treats economic transformations ‘from the bottom up.’ Ideal for classroom use, this book is a winner."


    Richard Scaglion, University of Pittsburgh

    "Esperanza Speaks is a clearly written, compassionate, and engaging read. Ideal for the classroom, this work allows readers to understand not only Esperanza’s life but also Panama’s place in our global society. Using descriptive and explanatory prose in equal parts, Rudolf unveils the changes in Esperanza’s family as their roles shift over time, as well as their own perspectives on the structural forces that affect their lives."


    Christine Hippert, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  • Author Information

    Gloria Rudolf is a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Table of contents

    Illustrations
    Boxes
    Acknowledgments
    People You Will Meet
    The Ruiz Family: Kinship Chart
    Introductions
    1. The Isthmus of Panama: Two Different Worlds (pre-1920s)
    2. Childhood: As Soon as I Opened My Eyes (1920s–1930s)
    3. Youth: I Could Always Quit and Go Home (1940s–1950s)
    4. Adult: A Voice Meant to Be Heard (1960s–1980s)
    5. Elder: Doors Open, Doors Close (1990s–2019)
    6. Next Generations: Who’s Heading Home Again? (2019)
    Concluding Thoughts
    Notes
    Glossary
    Bibliography
    Index

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