The Inheritance

The Inheritance

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: Published: March 2021

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Theory and Philosophy

Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s inheritance was passed down, not through blood or soil, but through a framed map of Trentino, Alto Adige—the region where family's ancestral alpine village is found—hung above her family's television. Far more than a map, the image's colors and lines held in place the memories and values that fueled the Povinelli family's fraught relationship with the village and each other. In her graphic memoir The Inheritance, Povinelli explores the events, traumas, and powers that divide and define our individual and collective pasts and futures. Weaving together stories of her grandparents' flight from their village in the early twentieth century to the fortunes of their knife-grinding business in Buffalo, New York, and her own Catholic childhood in a shrinking Louisiana woodlands of the 1960s and 70s, Povinelli describes the serial patterns of violence, dislocation, racism and structural inequality that have shaped not only her life but the American story. Plumbing the messy relationships between nationality, ethnicity, kinship, religion, and belonging, The Inheritance takes us into the gulf between facts of history and stories we tell ourselves in order to survive and justify them.


“With the understanding of a scholar and the storytelling instincts of a novelist, Elizabeth A. Povinelli has brought a rare degree of scope and insight to the graphic memoir form. Relatively few illustrated works are so complex and insightful, so intricately concerned with families, nationalities, and politics. An extraordinary book.” — Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Elizabeth A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University and founding member of the Karrabing Film Collective. Her most recent book is Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1403-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1189-7