Anthropology offers a unique perspective on our interconnected global economy, attending both the transnational social and cultural connections that it entails and to the specific, located social practices that make such connections possible. Department faculty have worked on many different aspects of global political economy, across several different world areas. Sylvia Yanagisako has done research on the reformulation of ideas and practices of capitalism, labor and kinship in Italian-Chinese partnerships in the global fashion industry. Lisa Curran is engaged with the global politics surrounding both resource extraction and international attempts to combat deforestation. James Ferguson has worked on migrant labor, mining industries, and the neoliberal political geography of resource extraction in Africa. Matthew Kohrman is researching the global tobacco industry, and the linked transnational geographies of profit and suffering with which it is associated. Thomas Blom Hansen is engaged in research on historical patterns of labor migration from South Asia across the Indian Ocean to South Africa and the Persian Gulf.
Duana Fullwiley focuses on the political economy of Global Health for Africa and its repercussions in Senegal by examining the economics of sickle cell as a neglected disease. She has also studied transnational patient advocacy for sickle cell in the Francophone world that has made significant political (but fewer financial) gains. In the U.S., she explores how American notions of genetic ancestry rely upon "parental" DNA samples from contemporary humans who live on continents framed as the "Old World." In this current Age of Exploration, and repatriation for a number of African Americans, she highlights the political economy of post-colonial belonging. Her work details how genetic technologies make possible high-value scientific projects that have the power to reinforce ideas of human biological difference, especially concerning black people, while they can foster social heritage projects that have inspired African Americans to invest in Africa.