Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Front Cover
University of California Press, 1994 - Photography - 255 pages
7 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.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
1
3 stars
0
2 stars
0
1 star
1

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - engpunk77 - LibraryThing

Well, this book consumed my Sunday, and I feel that I've taken a quick tour of the average family in 20 countries. The content via photograph was amazing, but I felt that there wasn't enough ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - readasaurus - LibraryThing

If you read Menzel's masterpiece, Hungry Planet, read this book! Menzel asks thirty "statistically average" families from around the world to place everything they own in their front yard. The result ... 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

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

Visual Consumption
Jonathan Schroeder
No preview available - 2002
All Book Search results »

About the author (1994)

Peter Menzel is a photographer known for his coverage of international feature stories on science and the environment. His award-winning photographs have been published in "Life, " "National Geographic, " "Smithsonian, " the "New York Times Magazine, " "Time, " "Stern, " "GEO, " and "Le Figaro." Together with Faith D'Aluisio, he is the co-creator of the books "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" and "Women in the Material World;" and is the co-author of "Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects.

Charles C. Mannis the author of "1491", whichwon the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Keck award for the best book of the year. A correspondent for "The Atlantic Monthly", "Science", and" Wired", he has covered the intersection of science, technology, and commerce for many newspapers and magazines here and abroad, includingthe "New York Times", "Vanity Fair, "the"Washington Post, " and more. In addition to "1491", he was the co-author offour other non-fiction books.He is now working on a companion volume to "1491." His website is www.charlesmann.org.

Bibliographic information