Distant Mirrors: America as a Foreign Culture by Philip R. DeVita
258 pages, $30.95 list
eBook availability
Distant Mirrors
America as a Foreign Culture
Fourth Edition
Most young students of American culture believe many of the cultural assumptions they grow up with are universal. As insiders, speaking a common language, following the accepted patterns of behavior embedded in a particular way of life, most of us take our own social actions for granted, and it is a challenge to realize the strangeness and wonder of our own behaviors. The distinct aim of each edition of this popular classroom supplement has been to enable students to better understand themselves by casting American culture into sharper relief—offering other mirrors, other reflections.

The latest edition’s twenty-one personalized narratives, of which seven are new, unveil fresh portrayals of American culture. Each contribution offers unique ethnographic perspectives of various aspects of American culture that enable us to better understand ourselves.
“Love this book—have used this text for several years and now enjoying newest edition. Lots of praise from students—such a great teaching text!” — Martha Lofgreen, University of Missouri, Kansas City

“Using anthropological perspectives to reevaluate our own culture is one of the underappreciated contributions of the discipline. This book does exactly that, offering a fresh take on U.S. culture that is accessible to undergraduates. This is an excellent book for a comparative cultures course.” — Anton Daughters, Truman State University

“An excellent book.” — Michael Kimball, University of Northern Colorado

Distant Mirrors is an invaluable resource to the students of my Global Understanding course. We use video conferencing technology to link with college students in other countries to discuss various cultural topics, including college life, cultural traditions, and stereotypes and prejudice. Distant Mirrors prepares students to analyze and describe American culture. The book also serves as an example for how many of the students in the countries we work with may view American culture. Excellent text!” — B. Blakely Brooks, East Carolina University
Table of Contents
1. One Hundred Percent American (Ralph Linton)
2. Reflections on American Culture (Serena Nanda)
3. Body Ritual among the Nacirema (Horace Miner)
4. Professor Widjojo Goes to a Koktel Parti (Weston LaBarre)
5. Looking into the Mirror: International Student Views on American Culture (George Gmelch and Sharon Bohn Gmelch)
6. An American in Kenya: Experiences at an African University (Sibel Kusimba)
7. A Russian Teacher in America (Andrei Toom)
8. Life and Cultures: The Test of Real Participant Observation (E. L. Cerroni-Long)
9. Shifting Borders (Laura Macia)
10. First Impressions: Diary of a French Anthropologist in New York City (Françoise Dussart)
11. Arranging a Marriage in India (Serena Nanda)
12. An Outsider's View of American Culture (Janusz L. Mucha)
13. Growing Up American: Doing the Right Thing (Amparo B. Ojeda)
14. My American Glasses (Francisco Martins Ramos)
15. The Young, the Rich, and the Famous: Individualism as an American Cultural Value (Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel)
16. Neighborly Strangers (Honggang Yang)
17. Learning to Hug: An English Anthropologist's Experiences in North America (Geoffrey Hunt)
18. Giving, Withholding, and Meeting Midway: A Poet's Ethnography (Saleem Peeradina)
19. The Hidden Gaze and the Self that Is Seen: Reflections of a Japanese Anthropologist (Chikako Ozawa-de Silva)
20. Pais de mis Sueños: Reflections on Ethnic Labels, Dichotomies, and Ritual Interactions (Gisela Ernst-Slavit)
21. The Obligation to Give, Receive, and Make a Return: Comparing the Meanings of Reciprocity in America and Japan (Yohko Tsuji)