[KS] on the review of "From Tradition to Consumption"

Shin Hee earthling_too at yahoo.co.kr
Sat Nov 9 22:25:17 EST 2002

Dear List members,

I would like to comment on the latest Book Review by
Robert Hassink (Electronic file:
http://koreaweb.ws/ks/ksr/ksr02-16.htm).  I used parts
of the reviewed book, Dennis Hart's "From Tradition to
Consumption" in one of my undergraduate Women's
Studies seminar this semester.  I thought the review
did not fairly represent the book, and more seriously,
missed the whole point of what the book is about.  

My students loved Hart's book because the book
provided them a rare connection between women's
everyday life experiences and the state politics.  I
used the book along with Anne Allison's book on
Japanese mothers (based on her field work in Japan in
late 80s, the same period as Hart's book focuses on)
and three other anthologies of multicultural
feminisms. The students found Hart's employment of
different kinds of data (interviews, media, state
narratives, and Korean sources) more "feminist" than
many proclaimed Western feminists, because it showed
he was listening to local voices and didn't attempt to
compress real women's responses into Western
stereotypes.  My students were surprised to see that
what is seemingly "traditional" (e.g. urban full-time
housewives and "salaried men" patriarchs) is not
really a tradition, but a product of modern state
politics and women's and men's responses to those.  I
don't think the number of interviews should be a
problem since the interviews were only a small
supplementary source to support his theses.  Most of
shortcomings that he pointed out also are not even
correct. (For example, the author does provide up to
date statistics and the author mentions that divorce
rates vary according to the sources.)

On a side note, as someone who is currently writing a
book, I cringe to see this kind of negative and
misleading book review on a public forum.  Who would
want to stick her neck out and send her "baby" out to
such unprofessional academic environments? Writing a
book is a process that requires a lot of commitment
and sacrifices in personal lives.  Please be
thoughtful, fair, and constructive when you provide a
critique. Don't trash someone else's book on feeble
bases. Aren't book reviews supposed to inform us, busy
academics, who cannot possibly skim all the new books
that come out in our field every year?  The reviews
published on this list seem to range from very helpful
to extremely irresponsible. One of the positive
aspects of this list is that sometimes the authors
responded to the reviews, and thus they were not
unilaterally victimized by a misrepresenting review. 
I hope that the list will always remain a safe place
for people who would like to present a different view.

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친구들과 함께 바꿔보세요. - 야후! 메신저

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