Mules and Men


Mules and Men is a 1935 autoethnographical collection of African-American folklore collected and written by anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston.[1] The book explores stories she collected in two trips: one in Eatonville and Polk County, Florida, and one in New Orleans.[1][2][3] Hurston's decision to focus her research on Florida came from a desire to record the cross-section of black traditions in the state. In her introduction to Mules and Men, she wrote, "Florida is a place that draws people—white people from all over the world, and Negroes from every Southern state surely and some from the North and West".[4] Hurston documented 70 folktales during the Florida trip, while the New Orleans trip yielded a number of stories about Marie Laveau and other voodoo traditions.[1]

The book embraces both her own re-immersion in the folklore of her childhood, and a desire to document those traditions as part of the emergent anthropological sciences.[5][6] Subsequently, the book has been described as an important text for the canonization of Hurston in both American and African-American literature, and in developing fields such as ethnography and critical race theory.[2][7][8]

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