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Belonging [Paperback]

Bell Hooks

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Book Description

21 Nov 2008 041596816X 978-0415968164 1

What does it mean to call a place home? Who is allowed to become a member of a community? When can we say that we truly belong?

These are some of the questions of place and belonging that renowned cultural critic bell hooks examines in her new book, Belonging: A Culture of Place. Traversing past and present, Belonging charts a cyclical journey in which hooks moves from place to place, from country to city and back again, only to end where she began--her old Kentucky home.

hooks has written provocatively about race, gender, and class; and in this book she turns her attention to focus on issues of land and land ownership. Reflecting on the fact that 90% of all black people lived in the agrarian South before mass migration to northern cities in the early 1900s, she writes about black farmers, about black folks who have been committed both in the past and in the present to local food production, to being organic, and to finding solace in nature. Naturally, it would be impossible to contemplate these issues without thinking about the politics of race and class. Reflecting on the racism that continues to find expression in the world of real estate, she writes about segregation in housing and economic racialized zoning. In these critical essays, hooks finds surprising connections that link of the environment and sustainability to the politics of race and class that reach far beyond Kentucky.

With characteristic insight and honesty, Belonging offers a remarkable vision of a world where all people--wherever they may call home--can live fully and well, where everyone can belong.

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About the Author

bell hooks is a writer and critic who has taught most recently at Berea College in Kentucky, where she is Distinguished Professor in Residence. Among her many books are the feminist classic Ain't I A Woman, the dialogue (with Cornel West) Breaking Bread, the children's books Happy to Be Nappy and Be Boy Buzz, the memoir Bone Black (Holt), and the general interest titles All About Love, Rock My Soul, and Communion. She has published six titles with Routledge: We Real Cool, Where We Stand, Teaching to Transgress, Teaching Community, Outlaw Culture, and Reel to Real.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great content -- unbelievably poor editing. 1 Dec 2009
By Lucas Harriman - Published on
I don't normally post reviews like this, but I felt I had to say that Routledge should be ashamed of the editorial job done with this publication. It was obviously rushed through production and, judging on the three to five typographical errors appearing on each page, was barely skimmed in the galley stage. And these are not simple spelling errors either. For example, on page 183, the text mentions "potential community that will simply be there when all that white and black folks know of one another is what they find in the media." It can be gathered from context that it should read "that will simply NOT be there..." This is a serious ommission, and similar ones pepper the entire book. Dr. hooks certainly deserves much more respect than this, as do her readers. I am also disappointed to say that this is not the first Routledge publication I could have made similar remarks about.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like it! 27 Dec 2009
By mls - Published on
I'm afraid that the poor editing that another reviewer described extended beyond the numerous typos he cited. The book is a series of essays that rehash the same themes repeatedly, in what seems to me to be a fairly deadly combination of academic jargon and solipsism: She (bell) moved back to her roots in Kentucky, to her (somewhat idealized?) black country roots, where she extolls the virtues of country life without actually practicing it. The reason she doesn't is that she doesn't have a green thumb.... People who live from the land, including her ancestors, don't have the luxury of such thumbs--it's get one or starve! Dare I suggest that her own privilege is (as privilege tends to be) not quite visible to her?

I don't begrudge bell hooks these lifestyle choices, and agree with a great deal of what she says about the importance of place and belonging. I even share her longings for a place and time that no longer exist. But in spite of her rhetoric, hers is far from a political solution, as many--most?--Americans, black, many-colored and white, have few if any roots to return to. And I found myself thinking, okay, bell, you've got a hundred well-repeated rationales for your choices, but most of us don't have a Kentucky to go home to, or the means to live there if we did. And just try peddling your theories to gang bangers in the ghetto. I work with their female relatives every day, and it's just not gonna wash! And by the way, most of them couldn't, or wouldn't, read your book. Even with a grounding in the lingo, I found it heavy going.

And by the way, did I mention that the book is repetitive? It wants some serious parsing.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First half is engaging, last portion hard to stick with - editing does not help.... 28 Jun 2012
By D. Pawl - Published on
I am currently taking an elective, looking at comparative inequities in cultures, races, gender and LGBTQ matters. My professor is a bell hooks fan, and I wanted to understand his passion for her work. I also wanted a better sense of her experience, as native Kentuckian, transplant to California, New York, and Arizona (to name a few places), and how she reclaims her roots in her native state of Kentucky. I like the idea of examining place, belonging and how we go about reclaiming our healing space after we've been injured by our own native identity.

Let's start with the positive attributes, here - great passages, like recounting sharecropper's experiences in Kentucky, the culture of quilting and reconnecting with seven generations of legacy and anguish. What doesn't work is that the editing, here, is deplorable. I even caught typos. It was embarrassing, at times. Also, the last portion of this book scraped the enamel off of my teeth, my patience was tried so much. It became preachy and even annoying. If this book stopped at the halfway mark, it would have been a hit. A pity!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bell hooks does it again 3 Feb 2013
By Jennifer Pennington - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
bell hooks is perhaps the BEST person to right about a culture of place. She uses her personal story as a way to ground the essays, and she relates it to a broader community that includes what we all grapple with: class, race, and gender among others. I particularly loved her writing on nature as a healing force.
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