HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Have you checked out SantaThing, LibraryThing's gift-giving tradition?
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

A Plague of Caterpillars: A Return to the African Bush (1986)

by Nigel Barley

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1408145,707 (3.64)7
When local contacts tipped off Nigel Barley that the Dowayocircumcision ceremony was about to take place, he immediately left London for thevillage in northern Cameroon where he had lived as a field anthropologist for 18months. The Dowayos are a mountain people that perform their elaborate, fascinatingand fearsome ceremony at six or seven year intervals. It was an opportunity thatwas too good to miss, a key moment to test the balance of tradition and modernity.Yet, like much else in this hilarious book, the circumcision ceremony was to provefrustratingly elusive. This very failure, compounded by the plague of caterpillarsof the book's title allows Nigel Barley to concentrate on everyday life in Dowayolandand the tattered remnants of an overripe French colonial legacy. Witchcraft fillsthe Cameroonian air; add an earnest German traveller showing explicit birth‐control propaganda to the respectable Dowayos, an interestin the nipple‐mutilatingpractices of highlanders, unanswered questions of the link between infertility andcircumcision and you have the ingredients of a comic masterpiece. But beneath allthe joy and shared laughter there is a skilful and wise reflection on the problemsof different cultures ever understanding one another. … (more)

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 7 mentions

English (7)  Spanish (1)  All languages (8)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Interesting read about an anthropologist's trip to try to witness a circumcision ritual and all the problems and stories along the way. ( )
  melsmarsh | Nov 25, 2020 |
Este libro es la continuación de El antropólogo inocente, y no recomiendo su lectura sin haber leído antes el primero. Ambos libros narran las aventuras y desventuras de un antropólogo social, Nigel Barley [NB], en su intento por estudiar a los Dowayo, una tribu casi desconocida en el oeste de Camerún.

El primer libro relata el choque cultural que sufren muchos viajeros al llegar a la llamada África negra. NB nos habla de la corrupción de los funcionarios, de los interminables papeleos, de los pequeños sobornos y grandes discusiones que tiene que sufrir hasta que, al fin, consigue llegar a la aldea de los dowayo. Una vez allí, comienza a estudiar a un pueblo que, sin saberlo le cambiará la vida. El libro es en realidad un gran anecdotario, pues los malos entendidos y la diferencia entre lo que dan por supuesto el antropólogo y los dowayo ante el mismo hecho llevan a un sinfín de situaciones hilarantes.

En este segundo libro, NB regresa a la tribu de los dowayo para presenciar la ceremonia comunitaria de circuncisión de los jóvenes de la aldea, que sólo tiene lugar cada varios años y sólo si se dan ciertas circunstancias. Hay más anécdotas y más diversión. Cuenta, por ejemplo, la reacción de los dowayo la primera vez que ven una película de cine, con efectos absolutamente diferentes a los que él esperaba, cuenta la visita al Hacedor de lluvia de la tribu, que siempre vive alejado en la montaña, cuenta cómo discurrió la última cacería de la temporada… Todas estas actividades terminan cómicamente, sin que el autor se lo proponga.

NB hace buen uso de lo que siempre se ha definido como fino humor inglés. Su estilo es claro, directo y conciso, y uno casi siempre se lo imagina con una media sonrisa torcida mientras le narra aventura tras aventura. Los libros sirven como buena introducción a la labor cotidiana de un antropólogo social, y para entender un poco más a África, sus devenires y pesares.

Como el autor dice cerca del final del libro, “cuando nada en la cultura que estudias te parece ya extraño, es el momento de dejarlo”. NB se fue de Camerún tras haber hecho muchos amigos, en dos viajes que le sirvieron para conocer a los dowayo y a sí mismo.

Como anécdota final, NB no hizo más estudios de campo tras sus visitas a los dowayo. Entró a trabajar en el Museo Británico, que publicó su primer libro como una curiosidad, casi para uso interno. Pero el éxito arrollador provocó su publicación por una editorial de las grandes, además de servir para que NB relatara la segunda parte de su viaje.

Mi nota: Imprescindibles ( )
  Remocpi | Apr 22, 2020 |
Having failed to see the circumcision ceremony which marks the men of the Dowayo tribe transition from child to adulthood when he was there previously, Barley hears that it is due shortly to take place. Hot-footing it out to Cameroon again, he heads back to the village to see if he can witness this first hand. Re-installed in his square hut, that has been carefully ‘guarded’ by Zuuldibo, he picks up life there once again. It was almost like he had never been away, the friendly familiar faces popped by hoping for him to be a generous as he was the first time he visited…

However, details on the wince-inducing process of circumcision, like where it was going to take place and when, are very elusive so whilst waiting for the nod that it was on, he finds other things to do to fill the time. One on the list to do was a visit to the neighbouring Ninga tribe. It was said that the men did not have any nipples, but he felt that he needed to see this for himself and to endeavour to elicit some of the reasons behind this practice. However, his assistant, Matthieu continued to advise against travelling to this other village, but he persisted and finally got to meet the chief. He understood Barley’s desire to learn the customs of the village, but payment would be required; perhaps a large sum of francs for a goat?

This mini-adventure along with taking a primate to the cinema, the possibilities of solar power, a novel repair to his teeth, seeing the response of the village when the UN showed a short film about the perils of malaria and the influx of insects that gave the book its title. It has the same sharp wit of the previous book where we were first introduced to the Dowayo, but with a few more funny anecdotes and is a Thoroughly enjoyable sequel to his first book Like with all societies, what seems barbarous and cruel to us, is a way of life to another people. In the same way, a lot of our routines and habits are equally strange and mysterious to them and the humour that lies in the cracks and fissures of misunderstanding. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Mildly amusing tale of anthropologist returning to a tribe in the Camerons to witness the circumcision rite which he has theorized is a key to the culture's entire ritual cycle. His initial investigation of the tribe and the reasons for his theory are laid out in an earlier book, _The Innocent Anthropologist_. His investigations are frustrated by bureaucracy, cultural differences and the land itself. ( )
  ritaer | Nov 20, 2016 |
A trip to the remote North of Cameroon, February 21, 2015

This review is from: A plague of caterpillars: a return to the African bush (Paperback)
An account of the author's return to Cameroon for a second anthropological study. He has come to study the rare circumcision ceremony, which only occurs every seven years or so.
Most of the book is a waiting game, during which time the author mixes with the locals, giving a picture of a very alien culture:
"There, disappearing at speed into the scrub, was a bizarre, bulky figure. At first sight it was approximately conical and about six feet tall. A tall cone of wickerwork, covered with leaves and creeper, possessed of two arms and two feet, it swayed perilously as it rusehed into the bush...It was a boy, circumciosed some months previously and moving round shielded from the gaze of women by this head to foot covering."
The light, humorous style of writing put me in mind of Gerald Durrell's lesser works. I got a picture of Cameroon but didn't find it 'grabbed me' particularly. ( )
  starbox | Feb 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
"So. You have never been to our country before?"
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

When local contacts tipped off Nigel Barley that the Dowayocircumcision ceremony was about to take place, he immediately left London for thevillage in northern Cameroon where he had lived as a field anthropologist for 18months. The Dowayos are a mountain people that perform their elaborate, fascinatingand fearsome ceremony at six or seven year intervals. It was an opportunity thatwas too good to miss, a key moment to test the balance of tradition and modernity.Yet, like much else in this hilarious book, the circumcision ceremony was to provefrustratingly elusive. This very failure, compounded by the plague of caterpillarsof the book's title allows Nigel Barley to concentrate on everyday life in Dowayolandand the tattered remnants of an overripe French colonial legacy. Witchcraft fillsthe Cameroonian air; add an earnest German traveller showing explicit birth‐control propaganda to the respectable Dowayos, an interestin the nipple‐mutilatingpractices of highlanders, unanswered questions of the link between infertility andcircumcision and you have the ingredients of a comic masterpiece. But beneath allthe joy and shared laughter there is a skilful and wise reflection on the problemsof different cultures ever understanding one another. 

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.64)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5 2
3 8
3.5 4
4 11
4.5
5 3

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 152,733,885 books! | Top bar: Always visible