Edward T. Hall was simply the guru of culture. This man’s life work is the foundation of many international education and intercultural programs today – and deservedly so.
“An Anthropology of an Every Day Life” was written by Hall to document the first fifty years of his remarkable life. It is a fascinating read in that we get to observe an anthropologist in the making – commenting, through his unique lens, about his own journey and why he turned out the way he did.
Facts about his life are revealed in the early chapters. Did you know that Hall was essentially abandoned by his parents at a very young age and sent off to be cared by others? Before most of us are old enough to leave home, Hall had lived in France, Germany New Mexico, Missouri and on Native American reservations in the southwest, a part of the US that he loved deeply.
His work with the State Department under President Truman involved training Americans who were serving abroad in the foreign service. His life in Washington DC was full of interesting friends, including a psychologist who deeply influenced his work. Interestingly, he writes about his own need for therapy as to better understand his depression that stemmed from being abandoned at boarding schools at an early age.
His research, focused on perceptions of time, space and relationships, was quite controversial at the time that it was published. Today, his writing is core to our work today and required reading for Peace Corps volunteers!
I cannot recommend this book enough – it is an easy read in that Hall simply shares stories of his life and his observations. It gives us rare insight into the life and measured thinking processes of one of the most brilliant interculturalists of our time.