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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




Erik Harms, "Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon" (U California Press, 2016)

What happens when market-oriented policy reforms butt heads with a single-party state’s strictly maintained limits on political freedoms? That question sets the terms for Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in New Saigon (University of California Press, 2016) by Erik Harms, an ethnography of two districts in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, the one a gleaming model of high modernist urban planning and building through party state-endorsed private enterprise, the other a demolition...


Francesco Duina, "Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country" (Stanford UP, 2018)

In his new book, Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country (Stanford University Press 2018), Professor Francesco Duina asks why impoverished Americans espouse such great and abiding love for their country even as they suffer and struggle to get by. By many standards, America’s poor are objectively less well off than the poorest members of most other developed countries—they work longer hours, have lower chances of upward mobility, and experience some of the largest wealth...


jimi adams, "Gathering Social Network Data" (Sage, 2019)

What is social network data and what are the issues associated with collecting it? In his new book Gathering Social Network Data (Sage, 2019), jimi adams focuses on the principles necessary for gathering social network data. adams provides the reader with an overview of main concepts, like ties, nodes, and points, so that they can understand the language behind social network data. The book also discusses strategies for sampling and measuring social networks, tackling the question of “how...


Valerie Olson, "Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth" (U Minnesota Press, 2019)

Valerie Olson talks about why the idea of outer space as a “frontier” is giving way to one that frames it as a cosmic ecosystem. Olson is an associate professor of anthropology at University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). What if outer space is not outside the human environment but, rather, defines it? This is the unusual starting point of Valerie Olson’s Into the...


Rita Kesselring, "Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa" (Stanford UP, 2017)

Rita Kesselring’s important book Bodies of Truth: Law, Memory, and Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Stanford University Press, 2017) seeks to understand the embodied and everyday effects of state-sponsored violence as well the limits of the law to produce social repair. Of particular interest in Kesselring’s theorizing of the relationship between the body and the law as a mechanism to critique South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Dr. Kesselring’s book is an...


Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, "No Path Home: Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement" (Cornell UP, 2018)

In No Path Home: Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement (Cornell University Press, 2018), Elizabeth Cullen Dunn describes in a very on point and straight forward way how displacement has become a chronic condition for more than 60 million people. Dunn shows how war creates a deeply damaged world in which the structures that allow people to occupy social roles, constitute economic value, preserve bodily integrity, and engage in meaningful practice have been blown apart. No Path Home...


Ather Zia, "Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism" (U Washington Press, 2019)

Ather Zia’s Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism (University of Washington Press, 2019) is a brilliant, bold, and urgent ethnography centered on Kashmiri women of the APDP (Association of the Parents of the Disappeared Persons). By combining meticulous historical analysis, ethnographic intimacy, and profound attention to the aspirations and tragedies of everyday life, Zia documents the discursive mechanisms and affective registers through which women of the APDP...


Don Kulick, "A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea" (Algonquin Books, 2019)

Called "perhaps the finest and most profound account of ethnographic fieldwork and discovery that has ever entered the anthropological literature" by the Wall Street Journal, A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea (Algonquin Books, 2019) is an account of Don Kulick's thirty year involvement with a single village in Papua New Guinea, Gapun. In it, Kulick tells the story of language loss in the village, as well as his own experiences of...


Erika Milam, "Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America" (Princeton UP, 2019)

Erika Milam talks about the scientific search for human nature, a project that captured the attention of paleontologists, anthropologists, and primatologists in the years after World War II. Milam is a professor of history at Princeton University. She is the author of Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America (Princeton University Press, 2019). After World War II, the question of how to define a universal human nature took on new urgency. Creatures of Cain charts the...


A Conversation with Acquisitions Editor Dawn Durante about How Manuscripts Become Books

For a book to exist, there must be a lot more than a writer. Of course, the writer is the essential component. But what about all the other hard-working professionals who shepherd the text from manuscript to beautiful finished product? There are a bunch of them, and today we talk to one: Dawn Durante, Senior Acquisitions Editor at the University of Illinois Press for books in African American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, Religion, and Anthropology. She...


Grégoire Mallard, "Gift Exchange: The Transnational History of a Political Idea" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

Since Marcel Mauss published his foundational essay "The Gift" in 1925, many anthropologists and specialists of international relations have seen in the exchange of gifts, debts, loans, concessions or reparations the sources of international solidarity and international law. Still, Mauss's reflections were deeply tied to the context of interwar Europe and the French colonial expansion. Their normative dimension has been profoundly questioned after the age of decolonization. A century after...


Rachel Werczberger, "Jews In The Age Of Authenticity: Jewish Spiritual Renewal In Israel" (Peter Lang, 2016)

Perhaps there’s something in the air in the Middle East, something that elevates spirituality. The Middle East, particularly Israel, is the legendary home of spiritual searching, of prophecy and religious expression. And in this historical birthplace of monotheism – of Judaism and its daughter religions, Christianity and Islam – religious vitality is as vibrant today as ever. Although traditional forms of religious practice dominate throughout the Middle East, not everyone finds their...


Geoffrey Barstow, "Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet" (Columbia UP, 2018)

Tibetan Buddhism teaches compassion toward all beings, a category that explicitly includes animals. Slaughtering animals is morally problematic at best and, at worst, completely incompatible with a religious lifestyle. Yet historically most Tibetans—both monastic and lay—have made meat a regular part of their diet. In Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet (Columbia University Press, 2018) of the place of vegetarianism within Tibetan religiosity,...


Benjamin Tausig, "Bangkok is Ringing: Sound, Protest, and Constraint" (Oxford UP, 2019)

The political protests of the “Red Shirts” movement in Thailand in April-May 2010 ended in tragedy, with the security forces killing over 90 people and injuring thousands more. Thailand’s political protests have been studied from many different angles, but perhaps the most unusual approach to this subject is to be found in Benjamin Tausig’s book, Bangkok is Ringing: Sound, Protest, & Constraint(Oxford University Press, 2019). This book examines the protests and the associated violence from a...


Tim Frandy, "Inari Sami Folklore: Stories from Aanaar" (U Wisconsin Press, 2019)

Inari Sámi Folklore: Stories from Aanaar (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019) is rich multivoiced anthology of folktales, legends, joik songs, proverbs, riddles, and other verbal art, this is the most comprehensive collection of Sámi oral tradition available in English to date. Collected by August V. Koskimies and Toivo I. Itkonen in the 1880s from nearly two dozen storytellers from the arctic Aanaar (Inari) region of northeast Finland, the material reveals a complex web of social relations...


Dolly Kikon, "Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics and Militarization in Northeast India" (U Washington Press, 2019)

In Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics and Militarization in Northeast India(University of Washington Press, 2019), anthropologist Dolly Kikon offers a rich account of life in the midst of a landscape defined by multiple overlapping extractive industries and plantation economies, and of the social relations through which a resource frontier comes into being. Examining the foothills at the border between the states of Assam and Nagaland, she describes the histories of tea plantations,...


Ashanté M. Reese, "Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C." (UNC Press, 2019)

Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), by Ashanté M. Reese, examines the ways in which residents of the Deanwood neighborhood navigate the surrounding area to acquire food. Reese examines the historical processes that gave rise to the decrease of supermarkets, general stores, and other locations to purchase food thus constraining options. Residents articulated a commitment to self-reliance in meeting their...


Alex Rosenblat, "Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work" (California UP, 2018)

What does uber tell us about work, labor management, and mobility in the post-financial crisis world? Uber’s success has been tied to its cultural resonance and on its ability to tell convincing stories about itself to drivers, passengers, and governments about what it is, who drivers are, and why they are driving. Uberland: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Rules of Work (University of California Press, 2018) goes beyond the stories of share prices and corporate intrigue to examine what work...


Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer, "Wind and Power in the Anthropocene" (Duke UP, 2019)

This is the third of three interviews with Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer about their duo-graph, Wind and Power in the Anthropocene. Also listen to my individual interviews with Howe and Boyer about their separate volumes, Ecologics and Energopolitics. In this interview, I talk to both authors together about their experiences with collaborative research and writing, and about the wider significance of their scholarship. Ecologics and Energopolitics follow the development of wind power in...


Mubbashir A. Rizvi, "The Ethics of Staying: Social Movements and Land Rights Politics in Pakistan" (Stanford UP, 2019)

The military coup that brought General Pervez Musharraf to power as Pakistan's tenth president resulted in the abolition of a century-old sharecropping system that was rife with corruption. In its place the military regime implemented a market reform policy of cash contract farming. Ostensibly meant to improve living conditions for tenant farmers, the new system, instead, mobilized one of the largest, most successful land rights movements in South Asia—still active today. In The Ethics of...