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New and Upcoming Books by Recent Anthropology PhD Graduates

The Space of Boredom book cover

Bruce Oneil

The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order
Duke University Press Books (April 7, 2017)

In The Space of Boredom Bruce O'Neill explores how people cast aside by globalism deal with an intractable symptom of downward mobility: an unshakeable and immense boredom. Focusing on Bucharest, Romania, where the 2008 financial crisis compounded the failures of the postsocialist state to deliver on the promises of liberalism, O'Neill shows how the city's homeless are unable to fully participate in a society that is increasingly organized around practices of consumption. Without a job to work, a home to make, or money to spend, the homeless—who include pensioners abandoned by their families and the state—struggle daily with the slow deterioration of their lives. O'Neill moves between homeless shelters and squatter camps, black labor markets and transit stations, detailing the lives of men and women who manage boredom by seeking stimulation, from conversation and coffee to sex in public restrooms or going to the mall or IKEA. Showing how boredom correlates with the downward mobility of Bucharest's homeless, O'Neill theorizes boredom as an enduring affect of globalization in order to provide a foundation from which to rethink the politics of alienation and displacement.

 

Steeped in Heritage book cover

Sarah Ives

Steeped in Heritage: The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century)
Duke University Press Books (October 27, 2017)

South African rooibos tea is a commodity of contrasts. Renowned for its healing properties, the rooibos plant grows in a region defined by the violence of poverty, dispossession, and racism. And while rooibos is hailed as an ecologically indigenous commodity, it is farmed by people who struggle to express “authentic” belonging to the land: Afrikaners, who espouse a “white” African indigeneity, and “coloureds,” who are characterized either as the mixed-race progeny of “extinct” Bushmen or as possessing a false identity, indigenous to nowhere. In Steeped in Heritage Sarah Ives explores how these groups advance alternate claims of indigeneity based on the cultural ownership of an indigenous plant. This heritage-based struggle over rooibos shows how communities negotiate landscapes marked by racial dispossession within an ecosystem imperiled by climate change and precarious social relations in the postapartheid era.

 

Hydraulic City book cover

Nikhil Anand

Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai
Duke University Press Books (March 17, 2017)

In Hydraulic City Nikhil Anand explores the politics of Mumbai's water infrastructure to demonstrate how citizenship emerges through the continuous efforts to control, maintain, and manage the city's water. Through extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Mumbai's settlements, Anand found that Mumbai's water flows, not through a static collection of pipes and valves, but through a dynamic infrastructure built on the relations between residents, plumbers, politicians, engineers, and the 3,000 miles of pipe that bind them. In addition to distributing water, the public water network often reinforces social identities and the exclusion of marginalized groups, as only those actively recognized by city agencies receive legitimate water services. This form of recognition—what Anand calls "hydraulic citizenship"—is incremental, intermittent, and reversible. It provides residents an important access point through which they can make demands on the state for other public services such as sanitation and education. Tying the ways Mumbai's poorer residents are seen by the state to their historic, political, and material relations with water pipes, the book highlights the critical role infrastructures play in consolidating civic and social belonging in the city.

 

Bureaucratic Intimacies book cover

Elif Babul

Bureaucratic Intimacies: Translating Human Rights in Turkey (Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures)
Stanford University Press; 1 edition (October 3, 2017)

Human rights are politically fraught in Turkey, provoking suspicion and scrutiny among government workers for their anti-establishment left-wing connotations. Nevertheless, with eyes worldwide trained on Turkish politics, and with accession to the European Union underway, Turkey's human rights record remains a key indicator of its governmental legitimacy. Bureaucratic Intimacies shows how government workers encounter human rights rhetoric through training programs and articulates the perils and promises of these encounters for the subjects and objects of Turkish governance.

Drawing on years of participant observation in programs for police officers, judges and prosecutors, healthcare workers, and prison personnel, Elif M. Babül argues that the accession process does not always advance human rights. In casting rights as requirements for expertise and professionalism, training programs strip human rights of their radical valences, disassociating them from their political meanings within grassroots movements. Translation of human rights into a tool of good governance leads to competing understandings of what human rights should do, not necessarily to liberal, transparent, and accountable governmental practices. And even as translation renders human rights relevant for the everyday practices of government workers, it ultimately comes at a cost to the politics of human rights in Turkey.

 

Downwardly Global

Lalaie Ameeriar

Downwardly Global: Women, Work, and Citizenship in the Pakistani Diaspora
Duke University Press Books; Reprint edition (March 10, 2017)

In Downwardly Global Lalaie Ameeriar examines the transnational labor migration of Pakistani women to Toronto. Despite being trained professionals in fields including engineering, law, medicine, and education, they experience high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rather than addressing this downward mobility as the result of bureaucratic failures, in practice their unemployment is treated as a problem of culture and racialized bodily difference. In Toronto, a city that prides itself on multicultural inclusion, women are subjected to two distinct cultural contexts revealing that integration in Canada represents not the erasure of all differences, but the celebration of some differences and the eradication of others. Downwardly Global juxtaposes the experiences of these women in state-funded unemployment workshops, where they are instructed not to smell like Indian food or wear ethnic clothing, with their experiences at cultural festivals in which they are encouraged to promote these same differences. This form of multiculturalism, Ameeriar reveals, privileges whiteness while using race, gender, and cultural difference as a scapegoat for the failures of Canadian neoliberal policies.

 

Rituals of the Past book cover

Stefanie Bautista (Editor), with Silvana Rosenfeld (Editor)

Rituals of the Past: Prehispanic and Colonial Case Studies in Andean Archaeology
University Press of Colorado; 1 edition (April 1, 2017)

Rituals of the Past explores the various approaches archaeologists use to identify ritual in the material record and discusses the influence ritual had on the formation, reproduction, and transformation of community life in past Andean societies. A diverse group of established and rising scholars from across the globe investigates how ritual influenced, permeated, and altered political authority, economic production, shamanic practice, landscape cognition, and religion in the Andes over a period of three thousand years.

Contributors deal with theoretical and methodological concerns including non-human and human agency; the development and maintenance of political and religious authority, ideology, cosmologies, and social memory; and relationships with ritual action. The authors use a diverse array of archaeological, ethnographic, and linguistic data and historical documents to demonstrate the role ritual played in prehispanic, colonial, and post-colonial Andean societies throughout the regions of Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. By providing a diachronic and widely regional perspective, Rituals of the Past shows how ritual is vital to understanding many aspects of the formation, reproduction, and change of past lifeways in Andean societies.

Contributors: Sarah Abraham, Carlos Angiorama, Florencia Avila, Camila Capriata Estrada, David Chicoine, Daniel Contreras, Matthew Edwards, Francesca Fernandini, Matthew Helmer, Hugo Ikehara, Enrique Lopez-Hurtado, Jerry Moore, Axel Nielsen, Yoshio Onuki, John Rick, Mario Ruales, Koichiro Shibata, Hendrik Van Gijseghem, Rafael Vega-Centeno, Verity Whalen

 

The Insecure City book cover

Kristin Monroe

The Insecure City: Space, Power, and Mobility in Beirut
Rutgers University Press (March 15, 2016)

Fifteen years after the end of a protracted civil and regional war, Beirut broke out in violence once again, forcing residents to contend with many forms of insecurity, amid an often violent political and economic landscape. Providing a picture of what ordinary life is like for urban dwellers surviving sectarian violence, The Insecure City captures the day-to-day experiences of citizens of Beirut moving through a war-torn landscape.

While living in Beirut, Kristin Monroe conducted interviews with a diverse group of residents of the city. She found that when people spoke about getting around in Beirut, they were also expressing larger concerns about social, political, and economic life. It was not only violence that threatened Beirut’s ordinary residents, but also class dynamics that made life even more precarious. For instance, the installation of checkpoints and the rerouting of traffic—set up for the security of the elite—forced the less fortunate to alter their lives in ways that made them more at risk. Similarly, the ability to pass through security blockades often had to do with an individual’s visible markers of class, such as clothing, hairstyle, and type of car. Monroe examines how understandings and practices of spatial mobility in the city reflect social differences, and how such experiences led residents to be bitterly critical of their government.

In The Insecure City, Monroe takes urban anthropology in a new and meaningful direction, discussing traffic in the Middle East to show that when people move through Beirut they are experiencing the intersection of citizen and state, of the more and less privileged, and, in general, the city’s politically polarized geography.

 

Why Forage book cover

Brian F. Codding (Editor),‎ with Karen L. Kramer (Editor)

Why Forage?: Hunters and Gatherers in the Twenty-First Century (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series)
University of New Mexico Press Published in Association with School for Advanced Research Press (June 15, 2016)

Foraging persists as a viable economic strategy both in remote regions and within the bounds of developed nation-states. Given the economic alternatives available, why do some groups choose to maintain their hunting and gathering lifeways? Through a series of detailed case studies, the contributors to this volume examine the decisions made by modern-day foragers to sustain a predominantly hunting and gathering way of life. What becomes clear is that hunter-gatherers continue to forage because the economic benefits of doing so are high relative to the local alternatives and, perhaps more importantly, because the social costs of not foraging are prohibitive; in other words, hunter-gatherers value the social networks built through foraging and sharing more than the potential marginal gains of a new mode of subsistence. Why Forage? shows that hunting and gathering continues to be a viable and vibrant way of life even in the twenty-first century.

 

Endangered City book cover

Austin Zeiderman

Endangered City: The Politics of Security and Risk in Bogotá (Global Insecurities)
Duke University Press Books (May 27, 2016)

Security and risk have become central to how cities are planned, built, governed, and inhabited in the twenty-first century. In Endangered City, Austin Zeiderman focuses on this new political imperative to govern the present in anticipation of future harm. Through ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Bogotá, Colombia, he examines how state actors work to protect the lives of poor and vulnerable citizens from a range of threats, including environmental hazards and urban violence. By following both the governmental agencies charged with this mandate and the subjects governed by it, Endangered City reveals what happens when logics of endangerment shape the terrain of political engagement between citizens and the state. The self-built settlements of Bogotá’s urban periphery prove a critical site from which to examine the rising effect of security and risk on contemporary cities and urban life.

 

Medicine in the Meantime book cover

Ramah McKay

Medicine in the Meantime: The Work of Care in Mozambique (Critical Global Health: Evidence, Efficacy, Ethnography)
Duke University Press Books (January 5, 2018)

In Mozambique, where more than half of the national health care budget comes from foreign donors, NGOs and global health research projects have facilitated a dramatic expansion of medical services. At once temporary and unfolding over decades, these projects also enact deeply divergent understandings of what care means and who does it. In Medicine in the Meantime, Ramah McKay follows two medical projects in Mozambique through the day-to-day lives of patients and health care providers, showing how transnational medical resources and infrastructures give rise to diverse possibilities for work and care amid constraint. Paying careful attention to the specific postcolonial and postsocialist context of Mozambique, McKay considers how the presence of NGOs and the governing logics of the global health economy have transformed the relations—between and within bodies, medical technologies, friends, kin, and organizations—that care requires and how such transformations pose new challenges for ethnographic analysis and critique.

 

Oil, Revolution, and Indigenous Citizenship in Ecuadorian Amazonia

Néstor L. Silva   with Flora Lu and Gabriela Valdivia

This book addresses the political ecology of the Ecuadorian petro-state since the turn of the century and contextualizes state-civil society relations in contemporary Ecuador to produce an analysis of oil and Revolution in twenty-first century Latin America. Ecuador’s recent history is marked by changes in state-citizen relations: the election of political firebrand, Rafael Correa; a new constitution recognizing the value of pluriculturality and nature’s rights; and new rules for distributing state oil revenues. One of the most emblematic projects at this time is the Correa administration’s Revolución Ciudadana, an oil-funded project of social investment and infrastructural development that claims to blaze a responsible and responsive path towards wellbeing for all Ecuadorians. The contributors to this book examine the key interventions of the recent political revolution―the investment of oil revenues into public works in Amazonia and across Ecuador; an initiative to keep oil underground; and the protection of the country’s most marginalized peoples―to illustrate how new forms of citizenship are required and forged. Through a focus on Amazonia and the Waorani, this book analyzes the burdens and opportunities created by oil-financed social and environmental change, and how these alter life in Amazonian extraction sites and across Ecuador.