“The Other Side of Eden” by Brody

“The Other Side of Eden is directly based in Brody’s experience when he lived and leaned from Aboriginal Elders. Actually the book touches the question of American Aboriginal cultures and provides new anthropological perspectives to them. The author discusses the Canadian Aboriginal cultures such as Gitxsan, Dunne-za and Inuit. Brody challenges general anthropological assumptions concerning hunter-gathers societies. The book is divided into six chapters headed: language, creation, time, words, gods, and mind.

The author tries to counter the idea that Aboriginal hunter-gatherers are not nomadic and provides evidence of their being agricultural culture. It is interesting to notice that Brody’s style of writing is highly figurative and has strong relation to his previous works on the same topic. The book is written from legal transcripts, from field notes and from the memory of the past years. The book is written for academy to honor the memory of lives shared by Brody. (Brody 2000)

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It is necessary to mention that in his book the author employs new approach aimed at deconstructing the “hunter-gatherer trope”. Therefore the author collected and revisited field notes as well as historical documents. The legal transcripts are brought from the ethnographical link. It is known that Brody conducted original researches to find more evidence for the book. Brody calls for recognition respect of “hunter-gatherer societies” in his book as they preserve their land compared with the “agriculturalist transformations”. (Brody 2000)
While many authors tend to limit the political associations suggested by ancestors of Aboriginal cultures in USA and to maintain the ecological integrity, Brody makes an attempt to overcome those limits. It is apparent that he is not interested in natural ecology, because he strongly deconstructs the myth tat “indigenous systems that existed before contact were maladaptive to their various environments”. He provides the evidence that those Aboriginal cultures are unable to successfully adapt to economic development as well as natural resource development – they wouldn’t understand why and how to use oil and gas, for example.
Nevertheless, the book has some negative moments. For example, Brody appeared to be unsuccessful in explaining nomadic and sedentary economic systems. Therefore it is possible to suggest that the author demonstrate a certain limit in his researching and writing from “outside one’s own culture”. (Brody 2000) The author prefers to use the first person in his telling as if he is sitting nearby and leads the original conversation. However, the author is invisible hand in the book and his narrative moves readers further.
It is noted that “the Other Side of Eden” is likely to be work-narrative or travel-narrative of his life and of interfaces with Aboriginal Elders. The author definitely challenges modern ideas and provides evidence that Aboriginal peoples weren’t historically wasters, because according to author “nothing is wasted”. The author convincingly demonstrates that problems of modern environment don’t result from actions of sedentary “hunter-gatherers societies”.
The reason of those problems is globalization of agriculturalism which is considered nomadic and destructs environmental processes. (Brody 2000) In conclusion it is necessary to provide personal evaluation of the book. It is necessary to note that “The Other Side of Eden” is a real challenge to anthropological classification of so-called “hunter-gatherer”. The writing of the author seems authoritative, though Brody is respected by academics. In principle the book is worth for scholars and critics as well as for students and artists.
Brody’s evidence provided in the book has strong and weak point. The strength of the boo is that author is not afraid of implementing new assumptions and ideas and he is ready to counter existed stereotypes, whereas the weak moment is that author appears to be unable to provide proper explanation of some economic systems. Therefore the book undergoes both approval and critique. (Brody 2000) References Brody, H. (2000). The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, Farmers, and the Shaping of the World. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.


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