A Faraway, Familiar Place: An Anthropologist Returns to Papua New Guinea is for readers seeking an excursion deep into little-known terrain but allergic to the wide-eyed superficiality of ordinary travel literature. Author Michael French Smith savors the sometimes gritty romance of his travels to an island village far from roads, electricity, telephone service, and the Internet, but puts to rest the cliché of “Stone Age” Papua New Guinea. He also gives the lie to stereotypes of anthropologists as either machete-wielding swashbucklers or detached observers turning real people into abstractions. Smith uses his anthropological expertise subtly, to illuminate Papua New Guinean lives, to nudge readers to look more closely at ideas they take for granted, and to take a wry look at his own experiences as an anthropologist.
“Michael French Smith has written an engaging and accessible account of returning to the site of his longterm field research, Kragur Island in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea. As he has done before in two earlier books (of which A Faraway Place is a worthy companion), Mike has spun a great yarn. He possesses the admirable ability to translate personal experiences meaningfully and explains complex social phenomena in ways that the anthropologically uninitiated will understand and appreciate. He relates experiences that most anthropologists have had, but that others—students, social developers, those curious about the region—need to hear about. . . . There is nothing quite like it on the market.” —Richard Scaglion, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
July 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3686-3 / $52.00 (CLOTH)