In this unique exploration of African culture, author and photographer Joni Binder revisits journals she wrote at twenty-one while living in Kenya in the outskirts of Maasailand in a traditional dung hut. As both witness to and a part of the rhythms of life on the savanna, Binder lived as the Maasai live, on a diet limited to cow’s blood and milk—and, in celebratory times—meat and honey beer.
Her photographs of one particular family and their community in the framework of their daily lives and during their sacred rituals—including male and female circumcision—are interwoven with journal entries from that time and are juxtaposed with contemporary entries. Mile 46 chronicles the author’s attempts to reconcile her respect for her hosts and their beliefs with the Western feminist perspective to which she is accustomed.
Mile 46 provides a thoughtful and intimate snapshot into the everyday life of the Maasai while making a wider plea for social justice, cultural awareness, and personal diplomacy.
Published by Earth Aware, an imprint of Insight Editions.
RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2016
Watch the book trailer for "Mile 46: Face to Face in Maasailand
'Through the lens of a young American woman visiting the Maasai culture, Joni Binder reveals how the unique struggles of one community and one culture are not separate from the common plight of humanity's women and girls. May this book be not only a wake up call to the continued global violence against women and girls, but a call to action to all of us, to use our voices to challenge ideologies and practices that enable oppression to persist in all forms and across all cultures. "
-- Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentary filmmaker and Founder & CEO of The Representation Project
"With words of remarkable precision, and images of stunning clarity and beauty —qualities that are all the more striking for the artist in her youth— Joni Binder documents her time among the Maasai in the late 1980s. What makes Mile 46 such a revelation is the depth of its empathy, the calm intelligence and mature awareness that saturates every image. Neither a mere travelogue nor a wide-eyed record of faraway experience, the book is, instead, a brilliant and indelible work of art."
--Matthew Specktor, author of That Summertime Sound and founding editor of L.A. Review of Books
"I have just finished reading this book and, to be quite honest, I could not put it down. It is not only fascinating, but a thoroughly engaging personal narrative that draws the reader in at every turn. So much of this culture was unknown to me, particularly the practices relating to women and girls, whereby it is so important to raise awareness and shed much needed light on a topic that continues to take center stage from a global perspective. The photographs are stunning and often blur the boundaries between the written word and text to create a mesmerizing ensemble."
--Dr. Nina Ansary, PhD, author of The Jewels of Allah
"These lovely photographs describe the author as a young woman and her encounter with a traditional African family miles and miles away from contact with anything remotely familiar to her. They present a world now radically changed without sentimentality or exoticism. They are remarkable for their maturity, for their sensitive description of a way of life so different from her own experience and now so distant in time, and they reflect a kindness and sensitivity to her hosts, as interested in her as she was in them."
--Sandra Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
"Mile 46 is a sensitive account of a young woman’s exploration of traditional Maasai life. Readers who take a chance on this book will be richly rewarded. Binder is a trusted guide who examines herself as closely as she the community around her. Elegant photographs accompany clear-eyed, compelling prose to create a reflective, heart-felt, and genuine portrait. Step off the beaten path and into this wonderful gem of a book."
--Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar