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

By Gloria Rudolf

© 2021

History is often viewed from the top down; powerful elites are at center stage. This book instead examines a century-long process of socio-economic change from the bottom up, primarily through the experiences of one woman, Esperanza Ruiz (born in 1922), and four generations of her family. They tell stories about the nature and impacts of these changes on their lives and on their highland community in central Panama.

This view from the bottom up shows how ordinary people, through their choices and actions, are affected by and, in turn, can influence how history unfolds. Readers see Esperanza’s family as both victims and protagonists in their histories. Born into rural poverty with limits on their options, they still find small openings for actions to try to improve their circumstances. Sometimes successful, sometimes not, they survive or move ahead 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 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: 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# HE000775

  • AVAILABLE JAN 2021
    From: $25.95
    ISBN 9781487594695
  • AVAILABLE JAN 2021

    From: $48.75

    Regular Price: $65.00

    ISBN 9781487594701
  • AVAILABLE JAN 2021
    From: $20.95

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

History is often viewed from the top down; powerful elites are at center stage. This book instead examines a century-long process of socio-economic change from the bottom up, primarily through the experiences of one woman, Esperanza Ruiz (born in 1922), and four generations of her family. They tell stories about the nature and impacts of these changes on their lives and on their highland community in central Panama.

This view from the bottom up shows how ordinary people, through their choices and actions, are affected by and, in turn, can influence how history unfolds. Readers see Esperanza’s family as both victims and protagonists in their histories. Born into rural poverty with limits on their options, they still find small openings for actions to try to improve their circumstances. Sometimes successful, sometimes not, they survive or move ahead 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 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: 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

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

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