Charles L. Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs are the winners of this year’s J.I. Staley Prize, for their book Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling During a Medical Nightmare.
The book recounts the 1992-1993 cholera outbreak that killed some 500 people, mostly indigenous, in eastern Venezuela’s Orinoco River Delta. The disease had been absent from Latin American for nearly a century. Cholera can kill healthy adults in as little as 12 hours and can make a 15-year-old appear geriatric, Briggs and Mantini-Briggs note in the book, but is prevented easily by the provision of uncontaminated food and water and is easily treated.
… The book draws from hundreds of interviews conducted from 1992-1999 with people from a cross-section of ages, occupations, social positions and degrees of bilingualism in the delta region, and the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. The authors recorded the stories of medical personnel, journalists, families of those killed by cholera, disease survivors, community leaders and government officials, traditional healers, missionaries, and others.
… In November 2006, [Charles] Briggs won the Edward Sapir Book Prize, the highest award in linguistic anthropology for co-authoring [with Richard Bauman], Voices of Modernity: Language Ideologies and the Politics of Inequality…