What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want To Be?

Univ. of Chicago. May 2021. 248p. ed. by ed. by John Hausdoerffer, Brooke Parry Hecht, Melissa K. Nelson & Katherine Kassouf Cummings. ISBN 9780226777436. pap. $27.50. SOC SCI
Consisting of a stunning array of essays, poems, and interviews, this collection makes the case that the actions and perspectives of a single person can have a ripple effect across generations of people and nature. Editors Hausdoerffer (Sch. of Environment & Sustainability, Western Colorado Univ.), Hecht (president, Ctr. for Humans and Nature), Nelson (professor of Indigenous sustainability, Arizona State Univ.), and Cummings (managing ed., Ctr. for Humans and Nature) bring together writers, scholars, activists, and more. The volume’s works have a unifying message of environmental responsibility, community-driven ethics, and connecting the past to the future for the good of the present. The book’s title asks a question that has permeated all of human history, with concepts relatable to people from diverse backgrounds. Highlights include poetry by Frances H. Kakugawa and Elizabeth Herron, as well as an interview with Wendell Berry about how he became involved in environmental activism. Throughout, the book reminds readers that being a memorable ancestor depends on one’s impact and ability to understand the wisdom of previous generations.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in environmentalism, anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, and Indigenous peoples in the U.S.
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