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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books
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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books




Susan Ellison, "Domesticating Democracy: The Politics of Conflict Resolution in Bolivia" (Duke UP, 2018)

Susan Ellison’s Domesticating Democracy: The Politics of Conflict Resolution in Bolivia (Duke University Press, 2018) explores the world of foreign-funded alternate dispute resolution (ADR) organizations working in El Alto, Bolivia. Ellison’s engaging ethnography takes readers into the streets, homes, and workplaces of Alteños who use ADR to avoid state bureaucracies and juridical procedures as well as the conflictólogos who make a living practicing ADR. Ellison captures the nuances of both...


John D. Hawks, "Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story" (National Geographic, 2017)

John D. Hawks talks about new developments in paleoanthropology – the discovery of a new hominid species Homo Naledi in South Africa, the Neanderthal ancestry of many human populations, and the challenge of rethinking anthropological science’s relationship with indigenous peoples and the general public. Hawks is the Vilas-Borghesi Achievement Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author (with Lee Berger) of Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi...


Chika Watanabe, "Becoming One: Religion, Development, and Environmentalism in a Japanese NGO in Myanmar" (U Hawaii Press, 2019)

Chika Watanabe’s Becoming One: Religion, Development, and Environmentalism in a Japanese NGO in Myanmar (University of Hawaii Press, 2019) is a rich ethnographic study of the work of a Japanese NGO called the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement. Watanabe’s deep dive into the daily workings of OISCA explores the “moral imagination” of constructing unity based on a distinctly Japanese-marked set of ideals and practices within the confines of an unusual Japanese NGO...


Susan Brownell, "The Anthropology of Sport: Bodies, Borders, Biopolitics" (U California Press, 2018)

As my first guest, I’d would like to introduce Susan Brownell, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri – St Louis, one of the authors of The Anthropology of Sport: Bodies, Borders, Biopolitics (University of California Press, 2018). During the course of the interview, we covered the subfield of sport anthropology, the marginalization of traditional games, the recent Caster Semenya case, and the contemporary transnationalism of sport. In The Anthropology of Sport,...


David Varel, "The Lost Black Scholar: Resurrecting Allison Davis in American Social Thought" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

Allison Davis (1902-1983) was a pioneering anthropologist who did ground-breaking fieldwork in the Jim Crow south, challenged the racial bias of IQ tests, and became the first African American to be tenured at the University of Chicago. And yet despite these contributions Davis's work is little read today. The Lost Black Scholar: Resurrecting Allison Davis in American Social Thought(University of Chicago Press, 2018) is the first full-length biography of Davis ever written. In it, historian...


Chinyere K. Osuji, "Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race" (NYU Press, 2019)

The increasing presence of interracial relationships is often read as an antidote to racism or as an indicator of the decreasing significance of race. In her book, Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race (NYU Press, 2019), Chinyere K. Osuji examines how interracial couples push against, navigate, and often maintain racial boundaries. In-depth interviews with black-white couples in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Los Angeles demonstrate how couples negotiate racial...


Diana Pasulka, "American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology" (Oxford UP, 2019)

More than half of American adults and more than seventy-five percent of young Americans believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life. This level of belief rivals that of belief in God. In American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology (Oxford University Press, 2019), professor Diana Pasulka examines the mechanisms at work behind the thriving belief system in extraterrestrial life, a system she asserts is changing and even supplanting traditional religions. Over the course of a six-year...


Michael E. Kerr, "Bowen Theory’s Secrets: Revealing the Hidden Life of Families" (Norton, 2019)

A pivotal development in the history of psychology was the invention of family systems theory by psychiatrist Murray Bowen. He was among the first to observe families in a naturalistic setting, and his observations informed his ideas about families as ‘systems’ that functioned as ‘emotional units.’ Michael E. Kerr served as Dr. Bowen’s right-hand-man for many years, and he recently published a book showcasing the unique insights offered by family systems theory, entitled Bowen Theory’s...


M. D. Foster and J. A. Tolbert, "The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World" (Utah State UP, 2015)

This volume introduces a new concept to explore the dynamic relationship between folklore and popular culture: the "folkloresque." With "folkloresque," Foster and Tolbert name the product created when popular culture appropriates or reinvents folkloric themes, characters, and images. Such manufactured tropes are traditionally considered outside the purview of academic folklore study, but the folkloresque offers a frame for understanding them that is grounded in the discourse and theory of...


Carolina Alonso Bejarano, "Decolonizing Ethnography: Undocumented Immigrants and New Directions in Social Science" (Duke UP, 2019)

Almost 30 years ago, following the lead of scholars and thinkers of color and from the global South, anthropologist Faye Harrison and some of her colleagues published Decolonizing Anthropology: Moving Further Toward an Anthropology of Liberation. Harrison asked her readers: "How can anthropological knowledge advance the interests of the world’s majority during this period of ongoing crisis and uncertainty?" The lives of many have become even more precarious in the ensuing decades, among them...


Jeremy F. Walton, "Muslim Civil Society and the Politics of Religious Freedom in Turkey" (Oxford UP, 2017)

The social history of Turkey across the twentieth century has produced a tension between state governance and religion. This history informs and shapes modern subjects as they try to live out an authentic vision of the present. In Muslim Civil Society and the Politics of Religious Freedom in Turkey (Oxford University Press, 2017), Jeremy F. Walton, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, explores how members of three contemporary Muslim groups, the Nur...


P. L. Caballero and A. Acevedo-Rodrigo, "Beyond Alterity: Destabilizing the Indigenous Other in Mexico" (U Arizona Press, 2018)

What happens when scholars approach the category of “indigenous” without presupposing its otherness? Edited by Paula López Caballero and Ariadna Acevedo-Rodrigo, Beyond Alterity: Destabilizing the Indigenous Other in Mexico (University of Arizona Press, 2018) is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that take such an approach to studying indigenous communities and the concept of indigeneity. As the editors explain in the podcast, the indigenous subject has been often assumed to be...


Kristen Ghodsee, "Red Hangover: Legacies of Twentieth-Century Communism" (Duke UP, 2017)

I am a child of the so-called transition in Bulgaria and growing-up I could never understand why my parents and grandparents would spend our family gatherings talking about the socialist past. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much socialism and its end are imprinted on my grandparents’, my parents’ and my generation and that such dramatic changes cannot just be bygones. Kristen Ghodsee, an ethnographer and professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of...


Chris S. Duvall, "The African Roots of Marijuana" (Duke UP, 2019)

There's so much discussion in the contemporary United States about marijuana. Debates focus on legalization and medicalization. Usually, Reefer Madness, Harry Anslinger, and race are brought into the conversation. But a big part of the larger marijuana story is missing. In Chris S. Duvall's new book, The African Roots of Marijuana (Duke University Press, 2019), he tells a distinctly non-American story that nevertheless has important lessons for current debates. Duvall helps us understand...


Jennifer Hubbert, "China in the World: An Anthropology of Confucius Institutes, Soft Power, and Globalization" (U Hawaii Press, 2019)

In recent years, Confucius Institutes—cultural and language programs funded by the Chinese government—have garnered attention in the United States due to a debate over whether they threaten free speech and academic freedom. In addition to this, much of the scholarly work on Confucius Institutes analyzes policy documents. Anthropologist Jennifer Hubbert seeks to ask more complex questions and in-depth research in her new book China in the World: An Anthropology of Confucius Institutes, Soft...


Dorinne Kondo, "Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity" (Duke UP, 2018)

In Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity (Duke University Press 2018), Dorinne Kondo brings together critical race studies, affect theory, psychoanalysis and her critically keen awareness of the politics and potential of theatre production and reception to ask how theatre ‘makes, unmakes and remakes’ race. Building on over 20 years of experience as an ethnographer, dramaturg and playwriter, Kondo exposes the racial structures that are mutually constitutive of the theatre...


John O'Brien, "States of Intoxication: The Place of Alcohol in Civilisation" (Routledge, 2018)

Is alcohol a universal feature of human society? Why is problematic in some countries and not others? How was alcohol helped build the modern state? These are just a few of the questions that sociologist John O'Brien addresses in States of Intoxication: The Place of Alcohol in Civilisation(Routledge, 2018). His book offers a broad and diverse perspective on alcohol use and suggests that booze has been an important element in developing communities and building up tax bases. In the era of...


Joseph Hill, "Wrapping Authority: Women Islamic Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal" (U Toronto Press, 2018)

Joseph Hill's new book Wrapping Authority: Women Islamic Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal (University of Toronto Press, 2018), is an ethnographic study of women Sufi leaders in the Taalibe Baay or Fayda branch of the Tijaniyya. Hill provides life stories of various fascinating and powerful female muqaddamas (or Sufi leaders) in Dakar and explores how they navigate the complexity of their gendered authority in religious, familial, and public domains. The book examines the...


Melanie A. Madeiros, "Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil: Black Women’s Perspectives on Love, Respect, and Kinship" (Rutgers UP, 2018)

On this episode, Dr. Lee Pierce (she/they)--Asst. Prof. of Rhetoric at SUNY Geneseo--interviews Dr. Melanie Madeiros (she/hers)--Asst. Prof. of Cultural Anthropology at SUNY Geneseo--on the cutting-edge research presented in Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil: Black Women’s Perspectives on Love, Respect, and Kinship from Rutgers University Press (2018). We are joined as well by a third colleague, linguistic anthropologist Dr. Jennifer Guzman (she/hers), for a fascinating...


PJ Capelotti, "Adventures in Archaeology: The Wreck of the Orca II and Other Explorations" (U Florida Press, 2018)

Anthropologist PJ Capelotti discusses the role of exploration archaeology in understanding the Pacific voyage of Kon-Tiki, the Arctic airship expeditions of Walter Wellman, and the fate of Orca II, a fishing boat used in the film Jaws. Capelotti is a professor of anthropology at Penn State Abington. He is the author of Adventures in Archaeology: The Wreck of the Orca II and other Explorations published by the University Press of Florida (2018). Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at...