A Garland of Bones


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Child Runaways in India

Jonah Steinberg

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An intimate portrait of India’s child runaways, and the sociopolitical forces shaping their lives

This intimate portrait examines the tracks, journeys, and experiences of child runaways in northern India. Jonah Steinberg situates children’s decisions to leave home and flee for the city in their larger cultural, social, and historical contexts, and considers histories of landlessness and debt servitude in narratives of child dislocation. The resulting work is an original perspective on the sociological trends in postcolonial India and a unique treatment of a population of individuals who live on the margin of society.

Jonah Steinberg is associate professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Vermont and author of Isma’ili Modern: Globalization and Identity in a Muslim Community. He lives in Burlington, VT.

“Jonah Steinberg’s book will find its place among the very best contemporary studies of lives on the edges of political, social, and religious worlds in contemporary South Asia.…It has the marks of a classic.”—Steven P. Hopkins, author of The Flight of Love: A Messenger Poem of Medieval South India and Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Swarthmore College

“Jonah Steinberg brings his keen gift for vivid storytelling to this intimate chronicle of lives lived on the absolute margins of society.  This is a bold and important book.”—Nelson DeMille, author of The Cuban Affair

“It is a rare ethnography that links history and power relations to present day vulnerability and suffering as subtly as this one. Steinberg writes with compassion and intelligence about runaway children in North India, and offers us a wealth of lapidary insights into childhood, poverty, mobility, and class in a world which previous ethnographers have barely touched. This is a moving and important book by a powerful new voice in anthropology.”—Arjun Appadurai, author of The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition

A Garland of Bones is an unforgettable book. Its portrayal of runaway children, the vulnerability and tenacity of their lives, as well as its critique of institutions and of the forms critique itself takes in the social sciences, is unparalleled in its ethnographic depth and theoretical reach.”—Veena Das, Johns Hopkins University

“At the heart of Jonah Steinberg’s deep dive into the world of runaways in India are his affecting—even beautiful—interviews with the children themselves. This is a studious book but also one of great compassion.”—Joe Sacco, author of Palestine
ISBN: 9780300222807
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
36 b/w illus.
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