SCIENTIST IN FOCUS
Roy Richard Grinker
American Anthropologist, Author
Roy Richard Grinker is an American author and Professor of Anthropology, International Affairs, and Human Sciences at The George Washington University. Grinker is an authority on North and South Korean relations. As part of his PhD research, he spent two years living with the Lese farmers and the Efé pygmies in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo as a Fulbright scholar. He has also conducted epidemiological research on autism in Korea. Grinker is also editor of Anthropological Quarterly. He has also written op-ed articles for the New York Times and appeared as a guest on PBS News Hour.
Grinker was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in 1979, Grinnell College in 1983, and received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at Harvard University in 1989. His paternal grandfather, Roy R. Grinker, Sr. founded the Psychiatry Department at the University of Chicago and was the founding editor of the Archives of General Psychiatry. His book on autism, Unstrange Minds, was in part an “attempt to make sense of an intensely personal issue: his own daughter's autism.”
Houses in the Rainforest: Ethnicity and Inequality Among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa
The first ethnographic study of the farmers and foragers of northeastern Zaire since Colin Turnbull's classic works of the 1960s. Roy Richard Grinker lived for nearly two years among the Lese farmers and their long-term partners, the Efe (Pygmies), learned their languages, and gained unique insights into their complex social relations and ethnic identities. By showing how political organization is structured by ethnic and gender relations in the Lese house, Grinker challenges previous views of the Lese and Efe and other farmer-forager societies, as well as the conventional anthropological boundary between domestic and political contexts. [University of California Press, 1994]
Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation (with Christopher B. Steiner)
[Blackwell Publishers, 1997]
The second edition of Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation is both an introduction to the cultures of Africa and a history of the interpretations of those cultures. Key essays explore the major issues and debates through a combination of classic articles and the newest research in the field.
This edition also explores the dynamic processes by and through which scholars have described and understood African history and culture.
It also includes selections from anthropologists, historians, philosophers, and critics who collectively reveal the interpenetration of ideas and concepts within and across disciplines, regions, and historical periods
The book offers a combined focus on ethnography and theory, giving students the means to link theory with data and perspective with practice.
Newly revised and updated edition of this popular text with 14 brand new chapters and two new sections: Conflict and Violent Transformations; and Development, Governance and Globalization
Korea and its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War
[St. Martin's Press, 1998]
Despite the passage of over forty years since the official end of the civil war in Korea, the north and the south sections of the country remain technically at war. In Korea and Its Futures, Roy Richard Grinker argues that the continued conflict between North and South Korea, and the prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula, must be understood within the broader social and cultural contexts in which Koreans live. Grinker suggests that a fundamental obstacle to peace on the peninsula is that South Korea has become a nation in which nearly all aspects of economic, political, and cultural identity are defined in opposition to North Korea. He further demonstrates that in spite of its status as a sacred goal for all Koreans, the idea of unification threatens the world in which almost every South Korean has been born and raised. In chapters on defectors, divided families, student protests, and early education, Grinker reveals how South Korean conceptions of unification prevent either side from recognizing that a unified Korea must also be a diverse Korea. In other words, Grinker points out, unification is largely perceived by South Koreans not as the integration of different identities but as the southern conquest and assimilation of the north - in short, as winning the war. Korea and Its Futures is a critical and illuminating look at a conflict which has refused to yield despite changes in a post-Cold War world.
In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin Turnbull
[University of Chicago Press, 2000]
Colin Turnbull made a name for himself with The Forest People, his acclaimed study of African Pygmies. His second book, however, The Mountain People, ignited a swirl of controversy within anthropology and tainted Turnbull's reputation as a respected anthropologist.
In this scrupulously researched biography, Roy Richard Grinker charts the rise and fall of this colorful and controversial man—from his Scottish family and British education to travels in Africa and his great love affair with Joe Towles. Grinker, noted for his own work on the Pygmies, herein gives readers a fascinating account of Turnbull's life and work.
[Basic Books, 2007]
A father's inspiring portrait of his daughter informs this classic reassessment of the "epidemic" of autism.
When Isabel Grinker was diagnosed with autism in 1994, it occurred in only about 3 of every 10,000 children. Within ten years, rates had skyrocketed. Some scientists reported rates as high as 1 in 150. The media had declared autism an epidemic.
Unstrange Minds documents the global quest of Isabel's father, renowned anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker, to discover the surprising truth about why autism is so much more common today. In fact, there is no autism epidemic. Rather, we are experiencing an increase in autism diagnoses, and Grinker shows that the identification and treatment of autism depends on culture just as much as it does on science.
Filled with moving stories and informed by the latest science, Unstrange Minds is a powerful testament to a father's search for the truth.
NOBODY’S NORMAL: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness (Hardcover)
[W.W. Norton and Company, January 26, 2021]
A compassionate and captivating examination of evolving attitudes toward mental illness throughout history and the fight to end the stigma.
For centuries, scientists and society cast moral judgments on anyone deemed mentally ill, confining many to asylums. In Nobody’s Normal, anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker chronicles the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma―from the eighteenth century, through America’s major wars, and into today’s high-tech economy.
Nobody’s Normal argues that stigma is a social process that can be explained through cultural history, a process that began the moment we defined mental illness, that we learn from within our communities, and that we ultimately have the power to change. Though the legacies of shame and secrecy are still with us today, Grinker writes that we are at the cusp of ending the marginalization of the mentally ill. In the twenty-first century, mental illnesses are fast becoming a more accepted and visible part of human diversity.
Grinker infuses the book with the personal history of his family’s four generations of involvement in psychiatry, including his grandfather’s analysis with Sigmund Freud, his own daughter’s experience with autism, and culminating in his research on neurodiversity. Drawing on cutting-edge science, historical archives, and cross-cultural research in Africa and Asia, Grinker takes readers on an international journey to discover the origins of, and variances in, our cultural response to neurodiversity.
Urgent, eye-opening, and ultimately hopeful, Nobody’s Normal explains how we are transforming mental illness and offers a path to end the shadow of stigma.
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