Renegade Dreams - Living Through...
An ethnographic study of the residents of a violent West Chicago neighborhood and how they cope from day to day.
As with war, much of our focus on inner-city violence is on the death toll, but the reality is that far more victims live to see another day and must copy with their injuries—both physical and psychological—for the rest of their lives. Renegade Dreams is their story. Walking the streets of one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods, Laurence Ralph talks to parents, grandparents, and pastors, to activists and gang leaders, to the maimed and the hopeful, to aspiring rappers, athletes, or those who simply want safe passage to school or a steady job. Seeking to understand how they cope, he ultimately shows that the injuries they carry are—like dreams—a crucial form of resilience.
Praise for Renegade Dreams
“A tour de force—extremely well written and engaging, and replete with original insights. Once I began reading Ralph’s book, I had a difficult time putting it down. His field research is fascinating. And his explicit discussion of the interconnections of inner-city injury with government and community institutions, as well as how it is related to historical and social processes, is a major contribution.” —William Julius Wilson, author of The Truly Disadvantaged
“Ralph’s Chicago is peopled by characters we’ve seen before . . . but they breathe and bounce throughout his pages like more than just rehashed stock figures in some ongoing morality play about urban black pathology. Thoroughly researched and powerfully told, Renegade Dream is a paradigm-shifting anthropological rejoinder to popular stereotypes and scholarly cant about “inner-city violence,” its causes, and its aftermath.” —John L. Jackson Jr., author of Thin Description
“Astounding in its clarity and groundbreaking in its power. . . . The textures and rhythms of Ralph’s realist narrative are charged with critical insight and transcendental significance, making ethnography into a work of art.” —João Biehl, author of Vita
“Theoretically rich and superbly written, this book exposes what is hidden in plain sight: the full humanity of people whose lives are greater than the sum of their pain and peril.” —Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness
“An elegant, poetic, and sympathetic look at a West Side Chicago neighborhood [Ralph] calls Eastwood. . . . Recommended for readers interested in contemporary urban neighborhoods and Chicago history. An absorbing read for those who enjoyed the blend of history and narrative in William Shaw’s West Side: Young Men & Hip Hop in L.A..” —Library Journal