This book is the result of an ethnographic study on the impact of Black cultural diversity on social action. The ethnography has three important characteristics. First, it incorporates the multiple perspectives of the ethnographer with the diverse voices of the people through an unusual form of reflexivity that provides additional insight for the descriptions, analyses, and conclusions of the book. This epistemological method is used to challenge traditional structures of ethnographies. Secondly, it argues for the consideration of non-traditional approaches to studying the Black experience - a focus away from race relations and issues of class and an emphasis on intragroup interaction and diversity. Thirdly, it investigates the processes, social institutions, and structures within the Black community of a small college town that influence social change and social action since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Marilyn M. Thomas-Houston is currently Interim Director of African American Studies and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at the University of Florida. She received her PhD. in 1997 from New York University in Cultural Anthropology and a Graduate Certificate in Ethnographic Film during the same year. In addition to an MPhil. and MA in Anthropology from NYU, she also holds an M.A. in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. She is a member of the American Anthropologist Association, a member of the Executive Board of the Society for Visual Anthropology (holding the office of Treasurer), a member of the Association of Black Anthropologists, and a member of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Her research interests focus primarily on people of African descent in complex societies, power relations, development, transnational processes, social movements, and identity.