The Danger of a Single Story

The Danger of a Single Story

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”   – Chimamanda Adichie

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Watch the TED talk by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie  called “The Danger of a Single Story”

What does Adichie mean by ‘the danger of a single story’? She speaks of “how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.” What stories did you grow up reading/listening to and could you identify with the characters in these stories? Why or why not? Discuss the ways in which stories influence our lives, who we are, and our perceptions. Consider how ‘a single story’ may entrench harmful societal attitudes and stereotypes about social difference. How do single stories get perpetuated? After several intense days of engaging anthropology, what would you say are the contributions of the discipline in addressing this concern? In other words, how does anthropology as a discipline disrupt or challenge the single story?  At the same time, how might the reading of ethnographies such as “Dancing Skeletons” contribute to the single story many people have about other cultures, particularly the continent of Africa?  For example, how does the fact that most hungry people today live in the continent of Asia challenge the single story we may have learned about Africa?

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