Cover image for Families as we are : conversations from around the world
Families as we are : conversations from around the world
Huston, Perdita, 1936-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2001.
Physical Description:
xiii, 348 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ518 .H85 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Families As We Are has at its core the words and ideas of ordinary people. Huston spent more than four years interviewing three and four generations of families of all socioeconomic backgrounds in twelve countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Japan, Jordan, Mali, Thailand, Uganda, and the United States.

While others mourn the loss of "family values," Huston discovers families who are strengthening themselves to face new realities. She describes the new forces that are changing families and finds positive as well as negative values in these transformations. While traditional families have been undermined by urbanization, economic transformation, emigration, and the global information culture, the family has also been positively changed by an increased regard for individual liberties and democratic values, and by a breakdown of patriarchal power.

Huston expands the definition of family, demonstrating that families come in all sizes and forms, from small nuclear families to large multigenerational groups, from street children who band together for protection and companionship to groups of prostitute women who live together and care for each other's children. Through the words of scores of family members, this volume presents families reinforcing and revisioning bonds forged of tradition and pragmatism, respect and love, as they face the challenges of the new millennium. Huston's fresh perspective--gained from several decades of working directly with families around the world--leads her to conclude that while the changes in families "may look like breakdown to those facing backwards, it looks like renovation to those facing the future."

Author Notes

Perdita Huston has lived half her adult life abroad and has traveled the world as a journalist and writer. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Baltimore Evening Sun, Jeune Afrique, LIFE magazine and many other publications, and she is particularly distinguished for her cross-cultural reporting based on conversations with ordinary people.
Richard C. Holbrooke is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (1999-2001)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Globalization has affected more than the economies of nations of the world; it has also changed cultural and social norms. Huston spent three years traveling in 11 countries to chronicle multigenerations of families and how they have been affected by those cultural and social changes. She recorded elders lamenting the fast-paced lives of the younger generations, lives filled with more material things--even in the most economically depressed nations--but devoid of the cohesion of earlier family life. She recorded the feelings of alienation and vulnerability of younger generations. She explores how contraception and broader legal rights for women have affected their roles as well as those of men. Huston talked to families in Japan, Thailand, Bangladesh, China, Mali, Uganda, Egypt, Jordan, Brazil, El Salvador, and the U.S. She recorded how individuals are coping with changes in concepts of human rights and with economic transformations brought about by increased technology. Among her conclusions: "Throughout human experience, families have met the challenge of change. Indeed, there are two constants: change and family." --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

A journalist, former Peace Corps director, and consultant with the United Nations and other international organizations, Huston brings grace and energy reminiscent of Studs Terkel's works to this collection of interviews with ordinary families around the world. Huston spoke with hundreds of families in Egypt, China, Thailand, Japan, the United States, and more, some of whom are prosperous but many more who live in poverty, reflecting the imbalance of wealth around the world. The interviews are organized under broad themes such as changing communities, gender equality, childhood, environment, health, and education. The edited remarks are candid and richly detailed, presenting vivid images of families in tragic circumstances and of their strength and hope in the midst of change. Although the connection between each interview and the chapter's theme is not always perfectly clear, these stories are an important contribution to collections on the family, multiculturalism, international policy, and sociology. For public and academic libraries. Paula R. Dempsey, DePaul Univ., Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: Listening to Others, Hearing Ourselvesp. 1
Part 1 Families and Change
1 Families As We Werep. 31
2 Living Together, Growing Apartp. 62
Part 2 Generations and Genders
3 Cherishing Our Wisdomp. 89
4 Womanhood Transformedp. 116
5 Manhood Revisitedp. 151
6 Changing Childhood, Challenged Parentsp. 183
7 Youth's Search for Life Mapsp. 211
Part 3 Facing the Challenges
8 Nature's Families, People's Needsp. 241
9 Family Health, Personal Risksp. 272
10 Faltering Households, Families Rebuiltp. 295
Conclusion: Private Lives and Public Policiesp. 331
Notesp. 341