Friday, November 11, 2011

Elliot's book, Laibon, is out!!!

I am very pleased to announce the publication of my book

Altamira Press
202 pages
ISBN 978-0759120686
Elliot Fratkin is Professor of Anthropology at Smith College, Northampton MA, and is currently US a Fulbright Scholar teaching at Hawassa University in Ethiopia.
Laibon: An Anthropologist’s Journey with Samburu Diviners in Kenya by Elliot Fratkin. 

Elliot Fratkin shares the story of his early anthropological fieldwork in Kenya in the 1970s. Using his fieldnotes and letters home to bring to life the voices of those he met, Fratkin invites the reader to experience his cross-cultural friendships with the enigmatic laibon (a diviner and healer of the Samburu and Maasai peoples) Lonyoki, his family, and the people of the nomadic community of Lukumai. Fratkin participated in the daily lives of the Ariaal livestock herders and accompanied the laibon as he performed divination and healing rituals throughout Marsabit and Samburu Districts. After Fratkin reunited Lonyoki with his son and wife, Lonyoki adopted Fratkin into his family, and Fratkin continues his close friendship with Lonyoki’s son Lembalen today.

“Elliot dares to use his own research to pose the question: Is there any true objectivity in field research and anthropological inquiry? He dares to depict his own attachments and relationships to this very special community, while also staying true to his research. His insights further the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the culture and of the research process, thus expanding the boundaries of anthropology. Readers from budding anthropologists to aid workers to volunteers will identify with Elliot’s observations, experience, and deep connection to the culture he studied and the people he grew to love.—Kris Holloway, author of Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

"A vivid, engaging account of Elliot Fratkin's apprenticeship into the mysteries of divination and healing by a prominent Samburu laibon. This book succeeds on many levels - as an unparalleled exploration of the secret meanings and methods of divination by laibons; as a window into the experience of extended field research - the insights and challenges, the emotions and relationships; and as a compelling story about our shared humanity, a reminder that people everywhere experience love, loss and life in ways that will seem achingly familiar.” —Dorothy L. Hodgson, Rutgers University

“Fratkin’s book, a journal of personal as well as ethnographic exploration, is honest, funny, moving, empathetic, and respectful and, as an account of fieldwork, rings absolutely true. It is a superb introduction to Samburu, especially their prophets, and to the experience of field anthropology. It would make an engaging teaching text for engaged undergraduates and graduate preparation.”
- Richard Waller, Bucknell University

Laibon: An Anthropologist’s Journey with Samburu Diviners in Kenya by Elliot Fratkin
Paper price for your students - $24.95.
For more information about this text please visit the book's page on our website at

1 comment:

  1. Marty, your chronicle is pure elegance! I am grateful to be on your list. I promise to never miss an episode. Please, please keep writing, as this feeds my longing to hear about Africa. Thank you.