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Marjorie Shostak

Despite a lack of formal training as an anthropologist, Marjorie Shostak wrote one of the most popular life histories in the field, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, in 1981. Shostak earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brooklyn College in 1966 and married Melvin Konner in 1968. She briefly worked as an associate of Harvard’s Peabody Museum before traveling to Botswana with her husband for his doctoral research in 1969. In Africa, Shostak began photographing and making audio recordings of women in the !Kung San tribe (often called Bushmen) in the Kalahari Desert. There she met a spirited and outspoken woman in her fifties whom she called Nisa, whose story became a touchstone for feminist anthropology. Upon returning to America in 1983, Shostak began teaching anthropology at Emory University. She went on to write numerous articles on ethnography and the !Kung, as well as coauthoring The Paleolithic Prescription, a book on the Paleo diet. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, she returned to Africa in 1989 to see Nisa again and was hard at work on Nisa Revisited when she died in 1996.

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Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjorie Shostak, 1981
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Marjorie Shostak's book Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman became a touchstone for feminist anthropology.
Date of Birth
May 11, 1945
Place of Birth
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Death
October 6, 1996

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Marjorie Shostak." (Viewed on December 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/shostak-marjorie>.

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