Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Front Cover
University of California Press, 1994 - Photography - 255 pages
91 Reviews
Photo spreads, with brief commentaries, of possessions of families in more than 50 countries. Awards: SLJ Best Book. Annotation. A fascinating project--sponsored by a number of international organizations--resulting in this richly intriguing book (it will get well-deserved promotion and distribution via all sorts of media). Sixteen photographers traveled to 30 nations to live for a week with families that are "statistically average" for that nation. At the end of each visit, photographer and subjects collaborated on a portrait of the family, outside of its home, surrounded by all of its material possessions--a few jars and jugs for some, an abundance of electronic gadgetry for others. The 360 color photos are accompanied by information about the standard of living in each country, notes by the photographers about their experiences, and profiles of family members and their lives. We are witnessing the emergence of a unified world economy, as exemplified by NAFTA and GATT, that will, in theory, make goods available at cheaper prices, create new jobs throughout the world, raise standards of living, and benefit the average family. However, population growth and resource exploitation will also affect these potential benefits as patterns of consumption change. In stunning photographs and text, Material World demonstrates the present context for the emerging global economy, what it means to be "statistically average," by displaying families in more than thirty nations outside their homes - with all their possessions in view. Among the 350 stunning images are those of a family in lush Samoa juxtaposed with a Kuwaiti family and the two Mercedes-Benzes parked outside their desert home a family in Iceland posing with their treasured string instruments while a family in Sarajevo huddles outside their bullet-ridden apartment. The text describes what it means to be "average" in each of thirty very dissimilar cultures and the impact of each way of life on the local environment. Statistical information about each country accompanies the photo-essays so that readers can easily compare one culture with another.
  

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Review: Material World: A Global Family Portrait

User Review  - Jessica Cramer - Goodreads

I first came across this book as a sixth grader (maybe) in my middle school's library c. 1999. It stuck with me. Reading it all these years later is a completely different experience as now it's not ... Read full review

Review: Material World: A Global Family Portrait

User Review  - Pam - Goodreads

This book fascinated me and my children and was one of our unschooling favorites for getting a picture (literally) of how people live in other countries/cultures. Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
7
by Peter Menzel
13
TELEVISIONS OF THE WORLD
36
LATIN AMERICA
106
Fire and Ice
162
MEALS OF THE WORLD
176
TOILETS OF THE WORLD
224
APPENDICES
248
AFTERWORD
255
Copyright

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References to this book

Visual Consumption
Jonathan Schroeder
No preview available - 2002
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About the author (1994)

Peter Menzel is an internationally known photojournalist who writes many of his books in collaboration with his wife, Faith D'Aluisio. Titles of some include "Material World: A Global Family Portrait," "Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects" (the writing of which required the two to actually devour bugs), and "Women in the Material World.

Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science, and Wired. He has also written for Fortune, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Technology Review, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, the television network HBO, and the television series Law and Order. He has received writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. He has written or co-written several books including The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th-Century Physics, The Aspirin Wars: Money, Medicine, and 100 Years of Rampant Competition, Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species, At Large: The Strange Case of the Internet's Biggest Invasion, and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created which made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012. His book, 1491, won the National Academies Communication Award for the best book of the year.

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