Light in Dark Times: The Human Search for Meaning

Light in Dark Times: The Human Search for Meaning


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What will become of us in these trying times? How will we pass the time that we have on earth? In gorgeously rendered graphic form, Light in Dark Times invites readers to consider these questions by exploring the political catastrophes and moral disasters of the past and present, revealing issues that beg to be studied, understood, confronted, and resisted.

A profound work of anthropology and art, this book is for anyone yearning to understand the darkness and hoping to hold onto the light. It is a powerful story of encounters with writers, philosophers, activists, and anthropologists whose words are as meaningful today as they were during the times in which they were written. This book is at once a lament over the darkness of our times, an affirmation of the value of knowledge and introspection, and a consideration of truth, lies, and the dangers of the trivial. In a time when many of us struggle with the feeling that we cannot do enough to change the course of the future, this book is a call to action, asking us to envision and create an alternative world from the one in which we now live.

Light in Dark Times is beautiful to look at and to hold — an exquisite work of art that is lively, informative, enlightening, deeply moving, and inspiring.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781487508852
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division
Publication date: 09/17/2020
Series: ethnoGRAPHIC Series
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 639,141
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Alisse Waterston is a Presidential Scholar and Professor of Anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY).

Charlotte Corden is an illustrator and fine artist who often works in the realms of anthropology.

Table of Contents

A Note on Anthropology
On Being Introspective
On Thinking in Dark Times
On Truth, Lies, and the Danger of the Trivial
On Envisioning an Alternative World
A Lament
To the Present
To Posterity

What People are Saying About This

Anand Pandian

“An astonishing work of art and anthropology: beautiful, moving, and profound.”

Nick Sousanis

“How do we want to be human? Light in Dark Times takes readers on an expansive journey to find ways to answer that question for themselves. Alisse Waterston's thoughtful investigation accompanied by Charlotte Corden's lively illustrations, together weave a primer on how anthropology can serve as a critical tool to reveal great understanding — particularly necessary in this dark moment when truth is obscured on all sides.”

Agustín Fuentes

“Waterston and Corden create a beautiful, meaningful, and powerful experience in Light in Dark Times. Simultaneously a lament and a beacon of hope, this visually stunning and intellectually vibrant narrative invites the reader to immerse in ideas, imaginings, realities, and possibilities. Through flowing imagery and concise lyrical text, the book offers a fundamental anthropological and philosophical toolkit against despair. Weaving deep but accessible content with dreamlike illustrations and imaginings, Waterston and Corden have created a book for, and about, all of us.”

Josh Neufeld

“In the tradition of ground-breaking graphic narratives like Logicomix and Unflattening, Light in Dark Times informs, educates, and inspires all at once. Beautifully illustrated in a mixed media style, the book is an epic 'walk-and-talk.' It effectively uses the comics form to take the reader on a flowing journey through the key question of our time: how to understand and resist an overwhelming world. Spritely avatars of Waterston and Corden, often accompanied by notable thinkers like Virginia Woolf, Hannah Arendt, and Bertolt Brecht, provide illumination and hope in the darkness. They make a powerful case for the field of anthropology as a tool in the struggle.”

Carole McGranahan

"How do we want to be human? How can we create a more just, humane world for all? These questions shine forth from Light in Dark Times, a book gorgeous in both ideas and images from anthropologist Alisse Waterston and artist Charlotte Corden. Together with guiding spirit Hannah Arendt, they invite us to think in politically relevant ways. Drawing on anthropology's unique way of knowing, Light in Dark Times illuminates the dark corners of human experience so that we may imagine and build a better world. A potent, hopeful, and inspiring call-to-action for these times."

Tricia Redeker Hepner

"Light in Dark Times injects hopefulness and possibility into a world that seems to be hopelessly possessed by madness, evil, and suffering. It brings intellectual illumination and anthropological insight to bear in a world beset by anti-intellectualism, political obfuscation, and abject human suffering. And it ignites genuine possibility of transformation. It is marvelous, beautiful, inspiring."

Laurence Ralph

"With Light in Dark Times, Alisse Waterston reasserts her status as one of anthropology's most brilliant writers, able to draw us into the lives of scholars and activists from different ways of life, with compelling and empathetic prose. Addressing some of the most vexing philosophical questions of our time, she and artist Charlotte Corden weave ethics, social science, and art together, all the while encouraging their audience to experience the world anew, through child-like eyes. Emotionally staggering in its ability to compel us to forge an alliance around fairness and human dignity, this is an essential book for anyone committed to imagining new ways of creating a more just society."

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