Department of Anthropology

Publications

Department of Anthropology publications


Individual Articles and Research Papers by all of our faculty members can be found on Academia Sussex Anthropology

Palaces of Hope: The Anthropology of Global OrganizationsJane Cowan has contributed a chapter to Palaces of Hope: The Anthropology of Global Organizations  (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

This volume assembles in one place the work of scholars who are making key contributions to a new approach to the United Nations, and to global organizations and international law more generally. Anthropology has in recent years taken on global organizations as a legitimate source of its subject matter. The research that is being done in this field gives a human face to these world-reforming institutions. Palaces of Hope demonstrates that these institutions are not monolithic or uniform, even though loosely connected by a common organizational network. They vary above all in their powers and forms of public engagement. Yet there are common threads that run through the studies included here: the actions of global institutions in practice, everyday forms of hope and their frustration, and the will to improve confronted with the realities of nationalism, neoliberalism, and the structures of international power.

Religion and the Morality of the MarketFilippo Osella and Daromir Rudnyckyj have edited Religion and the Morality of the Market  (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there has been a widespread affirmation of economic ideologies that conceive the market as an autonomous sphere of human practice, holding that market principles should be applied to human action at large. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the ascendance of market reason has been countered by calls for reforms of financial markets and for the consideration of moral values in economic practice. This book intervenes in these debates by showing how neoliberal market practices engender new forms of religiosity, and how religiosity shapes economic actions. It reveals how religious movements and organizations have reacted to the increasing prominence of market reason in unpredictable, and sometimes counterintuitive, ways. Using a range of examples from different countries and religious traditions, the book illustrates the myriad ways in which religious and market moralities are closely imbricated in diverse global contexts.

Trading WorldsMagnus Marsden,  Trading Worlds: Afghan Merchants Across Modern Frontiers  (Hurst,2015)

Trading Worlds is an anthropological study of a little understood yet rapidly expanding global trading diaspora, namely the Afghan merchants of Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe. It contests one-sided images that depict traders from this and other conflict regions as immoral profiteers, the cronies of warlords or international drug smugglers. It shows, rather, the active role these merchants play in an ever-more globalised political economy. Afghan merchants, the author demonstrates, forge and occupy critical economic niches, both at home and abroad: from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia, to the ports of the Black Sea; and in global cities such as Istanbul, Moscow and London, the traders’ activities are shaping the material and cultural lives of the diverse populations among whom they live.

Ritual, Performance and the SensesJon Mitchell,  Ritual, Performance and the Senses  (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015)

Ritual has long been a central concept in anthropological theories of religious transmission. This book offers a new understanding of how ritual enables religious representations – ideas, beliefs, values – to be shared among participants. Focusing on the body and the experiential nature of ritual, the book brings together insights from three distinct areas of study: cognitive/neuroanthropology, performance studies and the anthropology of the senses. Eight chapters by scholars from each of these sub-disciplines investigate different aspects of embodied religious practice, ranging from philosophical discussions of belief to explorations of the biological processes taking place in the brain itself. Case studies range from miracles and visionary activity in Catholic Malta to meditative practices in theatrical performance and include three pilgrimage sites: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the festival of Ramlila in Ramnagar, India and the mountain shrine of the Lord of the Shiny Snow in Andean Peru.

James Fairhead,  The Captain and "the Cannibal”: An Epic Story of Exploration, Kidnapping, and the Broadway Stage (Yale University Press, 2015)

The Captain and "the Cannibal”:Sailing in uncharted waters of the Pacific in 1830, Captain Benjamin Morrell of Connecticut became the first outsider to encounter the inhabitants of a small island off New Guinea. The contact quickly turned violent, fatal cannons were fired, and Morrell abducted young Dako, a hostage so shocked by the white complexions of his kidnappers that he believed he had been captured by the dead. This gripping book unveils for the first time the strange odyssey the two men shared in ensuing years. The account is uniquely told, as much from the captive’s perspective as from the American’s.

Praise for the book:

‘The joy of Fairhead’s excellent book lies in its wonderful detail… Teasing truth out of fiction Fairhead provides us with a tale as remarkable for what it says about ‘’us’’ as it does about ‘’them’’.’—Philip Hoare, Literary Review. 

“[A] superb new cultural history masquerading as an adventure tale . . . A fascinating glimpse into the sometimes ruthless Realeconomik of the early 19th century, which Fairhead delivers with great storytelling flair.”—Washington Post

“An extraordinary work! Combining the analytical skills of a social anthropologist with the investigative techniques of a narrative historian, Fairhead reconstructs the travels of a young Pacific Islander and his American captor and benefactor across seven seas and six continents. Telling the story from the point of view of both the islander and the captain, Fairhead investigates the cultural fictions, economic interests, and global networks that animated the nineteenth-century world.”—Robert Harms, author of The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade

"Fairhead . . . has created what is both a gripping drama and a perceptive analysis of the experiences of both colonials and colonizers . . . This book, once opened, will keep you up late until the last page has been turned."—Natural History

Rebecca Prentice,  Thiefing a Chance: Factory Work, Illicit Labor, and Neoliberal Subjectivities in Trinidad  (University of Colorado Press, 2015)

Thiefing a ChanceWinner of the 2015 Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize

When an IMF-backed program of liberalization opened Trinidad’s borders to foreign ready-made apparel, global competition damaged the local industry and unraveled worker entitlements and expectations but also presented new economic opportunities for engaging the “global” market. This fascinating ethnography explores contemporary life in the Signature Fashions garment factory, where the workers attempt to exploit gaps in these new labor configurations through illicit and informal uses of the factory, a practice they colloquially refer to as “thiefing a chance.”

Drawing on fifteen months of fieldwork, author Rebecca Prentice combines a vivid picture of factory life, first-person accounts, and anthropological analysis to explore how economic restructuring has been negotiated, lived, and recounted by women working in the garment industry during Trinidad’s transition to a neoliberal economy. Through careful social coordination, the workers “thief” by copying patterns, taking portions of fabric, teaching themselves how to operate machines, and wearing their work outside the factory. Even so, the workers describe their “thiefing” as a personal, individualistic enterprise rather than a form of collective resistance to workplace authority. By making and taking furtive opportunities, they embrace a vision of themselves as enterprising subjects while actively complying with the competitive demands of a neoliberal economic order.

Muslim Families, Politics and the LawRalph Grillo,  Muslim Families, Politics and the Law: A Legal Industry in Multicultural Britain  (Ashgate, 2015)

In contemporary European societies Islam generally and the Muslim family in particular have become highly politicized sites of contestation. Through a focus on British Muslim families and on the way in which gender relations and associated questions of (women’s) agency, consent and autonomy, have become the focus of political and social commentary, this book considers the implications of Muslim practices and beliefs for British multiculturalism, past, present and future. Practices concerning marriage and divorce are especially controversial and the book includes a detailed overview of the public debate about the application of Islamic legal and ethical norms (shari’a) in family law matters, and the associated role of Shari’a councils, in a British context. 

Suicide in Sri LankaTom Widger,  Suicide in Sri Lanka: The Anthropology of an Epidemic  (Routledge, 2015)

Extending anthropological approaches to practice, learning, and agency, Tom draws on his long-term fieldwork in a Sinhala Buddhist community to develop an ethnographic theory of suicide that foregrounds local knowledge and sets out a charter for prevention. The book highlights the motives of children and adults becoming suicidal, and how certain gender, age, and class relationships and violence are prone to give rise to suicidal responses. By linking these experiences to emotional states, it develops an ethnopsychiatric model of suicide rooted in social practice. He then goes on to examine how suicides are resolved at village and national levels, and traces the roots of interventions to the politics of colonial and post-colonial social welfare and health regimes.

Roads and AnthropologyDimitris Dalakoglou and Penny Harvey (eds.)  Roads and Anthropology: Ethnography, Infrastructures, (Im)mobility  (Routledge, 2015)

It is the first collection of ethnographies of roads themselves, the essays look at how roads and the powerful sense of mobility that they promise carry us back and forth between the sweeping narratives of globalisation, and the specific, tangible materialities of particular times and places. Indeed, despite the fact that roads might, by comparison with the sparkling agility of virtual technologies, appear to be grounded in twentieth century industrial political economy they could arguably be taken as the paradigmatic material infrastructure of the twenty-first century, supporting both the information society (in the ever increasing circulation of commoditized goods and labour), and the extractive economies of developing countries on which the production and reproduction of such goods and labour depends.

New Media and International DevelopmentAnke Schwittay,  New Media and International Development: Representation and Affect in Microfinance  (Routledge, 2015)

This is an in-depth examination of microfinance’s enduring popularity with Northern publics. Through a case study of Kiva.org, the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, and other microfinance organizations, the book argues that international development efforts have an affective dimension. This is fostered through narrative and visual representations, through the performance of development rituals and through bonds of fellowship between Northern donors and Southern recipients. These practices constitute people in the global North as everyday humanitarians and mobilize their affective investments, which are financial, social and emotional investments in distant others to alleviate their poverty. The book draws on ethnographic material from the US, India and Indonesia and the anthropological and development studies literature on humanitarianism, affect and the public faces of development. It opens up novel avenues of research into the formation of new development subjects in the global North.

Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner  (ed.)  Stem Cell Research in Asia: Looking beyond regulatory exteriors  (Routledge, 2014)

Stem Cell Research in AsiaThe great hurry to realise promised cures in stem cell research requires regulation to guarantee bioethical research practices. Yet, increasingly similar national guidelines for stem cell research yields a range of diverging research practices. This book shows how the different rationale of regulation affects stem cell research practices in Asia. In low- and medium income countries such as India and China the advancement of science has a different weight on the national agenda, and the evaluation of scientific research is measured with a different yardstick, depending on the political and national research environment. For developing countries the question of research funding into stem cell research, healthcare, and the donation of embryos, foetuses and oocytes entail different considerations compared to in affluent welfare societies. Moreover, research institutions have different cultural and political histories, so that the meaning of formal guidelines, legislation and social rules may differ according to their various institutional settings. This volume discusses the informal cultures, social conventions and traditions that are crucial to the way in which stem cell research takes place in Asia.

This book was originally published as a special issue of New Genetics and Society.

Remembering GenocideNigel Eltringham and Pam Maclean (eds.)  Remembering Genocide  (Routledge, 2014)

The contributions to this edited collection draw on current research from a range of disciplines to explore how communities throughout the world remember genocide. Whether coming to terms with atrocities committed in Namibia and Rwanda, Australia, Canada, the Punjab, Armenia, Cambodia and during the Holocaust, those seeking to remember genocide are confronted with numerous challenges. Survivors grapple with the possibility, or even the desirability, of recalling painful memories. Societies where genocide has been perpetrated find it difficult to engage with an uncomfortable historical legacy.

Crisis States: Athens and BeyondDimitris Dalakoglou (ed.)  Crisis States: Athens and Beyond  (May 2014)

What is life like in a city, Athens, that finds itself in the eye of the crisis-storm? How does the everyday reality here compare to Athens' global media portrait? What kind of lessons might our city be able to learn from the outbreaks of capitalism’s crises elsewhere, and what lessons might the Athenian example be able to offer in return? This volume stems from a conference that tried to answer some of these questions. The book is available for free online

Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner Global Morality and Life Science Practices in Asia: Assemblages of life  (London & New York: Palgrave MacMillan, April 2014)

TGlobal Morality and Life Science Practices in Asiahis book explores the concept of life assemblages, drawing attention to the diverging ways in which societies share questions of what is a life worth living. In accordance with the urgency, gist and expression of such questions, societies deal with the regulation of new developments and practices in life science research and mobilise available political mechanisms to deliberate them.

Seventeen empirical case studies debate themes ranging from population planning, reproductive decision-making, genetic testing and genomics to human embryonic stem cell research and experimental stem cell therapies in Asian countries. The debates outlined also shed light on theoretical conceptualisations of eugenics, biopower, risk signatures, population studies, public deliberation, reproductive choice, bioethics, bionetworking, international science collaboration, public deliberation, research objects and scientific development in countries of different levels of wealth.

Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of PleasureSusie Jolly, Andrea Cornwall & Kate Hawkins (eds.)  Women, Sexuality, and the Political, Power of Pleasure  (Zed Books, 2013)

This pioneering collection explores the ways in which positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality can empower women. Gender and development tends to engage with sexuality only in relation to violence and ill-health. Important as this is in challenging violence against women, this negative emphasis dovetails with conservative ideologies associating women’s sexualities with danger and fear. On the other hand, the media, the pharmaceutical industry and pornography celebrate the pleasures of sex in ways that can be just as oppressive, often implying that only certain types of people – young, heterosexual, able-bodied, HIV-negative – are eligible for sexual pleasure. Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure brings together challenges to these strictures and exclusions with examples of activism, advocacy and programming from around the world that use pleasure as an entry point for enhancing equality and empowerment for all.

Framing Africa: Portrayals of a Continent in Contemporary Mainstream CinemaNigel Eltringham (ed.)  Framing Africa: Portrayals of a Continent in Contemporary Mainstream Cinema  (Berghahn, 2013)

The first decade of the 21st century has seen a proliferation of North American and European films that focus on African politics and society. While once the continent was the setting for narratives of heroic ascendancy over self (The African Queen, 1951; The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1952), military odds (Zulu, 1964; Khartoum, 1966) and nature (Mogambo, 1953;Hatari!,1962; Born Free, 1966; The Last Safari, 1967), this new wave of films portrays a continent blighted by transnational corruption (The Constant Gardener, 2005), genocide (Hotel Rwanda, 2004; Shooting Dogs, 2006), ‘failed states’ (Black Hawk Down, 2001), illicit transnational commerce (Blood Diamond, 2006) and the unfulfilled promises of decolonization (The Last King of Scotland, 2006). Conversely, where once Apartheid South Africa was a brutal foil for the romance of East Africa (Cry Freedom, 1987; A Dry White Season, 1989), South Africa now serves as a redeemed contrast to the rest of the continent (Red Dust, 2004; Invictus, 2009). Writing from the perspective of long-term engagement with the contexts in which the films are set, anthropologists and historians reflect on these films and assess the contemporary place Africa holds in the North American and European cinematic imagination.

Mobilities journalD. Dalakoglou & P. Harvey (eds.)  Roads and Anthropology, a special issue of Mobilities  (Taylor & Francis, September 2012) 

Roads elicit powerful temporal imaginaries, holding out the promise (or threat) of future connectivity, while also articulating the political and material histories that often render these otherwise mundane spaces so controversial. The ethnographic studies that we have gathered here all take advantage of the possibilities that roads offer to those with an interest in the empirical exploration of current sociocultural conditions. Roads are materially embedded in local particularities, but the thematic concerns that these ethnographies raise also speak to a more general sense of promise and uncertainty associated with the idiom and materiality of (auto)mobility – and its association with issues of modernisation, connectivity, growth, displacement and circulation.

Atomic BombayRaminder Kaur,  Atomic Bombay - Living with the Radiance of a Thousand Suns  (Routledge India, September 2012)

How is nuclear power imagined? How does ionising radiation affect our lives? Where is it, what is it, how is it conceptualised and to what ends? Based in the vibrant city formerly known as Bombay, such questions are addressed through the experiences, thoughts and feelings of its residents, many of whom were based in close proximity to a nuclear research centre in the north east of the city.

From the fictionalised superpowers of atomic energy, to its commercial applications to sell commodities such as nasal sprays and pesticides, to the detrimental associations of nuclear power attendant to do with genetic mutation and death, the book provides a historical and ethnographic study on how ideas about nuclear science and bombs are entangled in a range of topics to do with the body, gender, nation, class, knowledge and power.

The author charts a history of the reception of the nuclear bomb in colonial India when it first came to the world’s attention in August 1945, and explores how the A-Bomb catalysed India’s political stance on non-violence, the freedom struggle and social and political imaginaries. The features of the ‘atomic culture industry’ - newspapers, films, documentaries and advertising - from the mid-1940s to the present day are highlighted, as are the practices and viewpoints of Indian nuclear scientists and anti-nuclear activists. And the book ends with an illustrative exploration of nuclear fantasies with a focus on superhero comics and their reception amongst young people.

Altogether, it provides a penetrating and original lens into the intricate ways power seeps through popular culture and urban lives entwined in the rivulets of nuclear cultures in this city on the sea and beyond.

Understanding Global SexualitiesPeter Aggleton, Paul Boyce, Henrietta L Moore, Richard Parker (eds.),  Understanding Global Sexualities - New Frontiers  (Routledge, June 2012)

Over the course of the past thirty years, there has been an explosion of work on sexuality, both conceptually and methodologically. From a relatively limited, specialist field, the study of sexuality has expanded across a wide range of social sciences. Yet as the field has grown, it has become apparent that a number of leading edge critical issues remain.

This theory-building book explores some of the areas in which there is major and continuing debate, for example, about the relationship between sexuality and gender; about the nature and status of heterosexuality; about hetero- and homo-normativity; about the influence and intersection of class, race, age and other factors in sexual trajectories, identities and lifestyles; and about how best to understand the new forms of sexuality that are emerging in both rich world and developing world contexts.

With contributions from leading and new scholars and activists from across the globe, this book highlights tensions or ‘flash-points’ in contemporary debate, and offers some innovative ways forward in terms of thinking about sexuality – both theoretically and with respect to policy and programme development.

The New Expatriates: Postcolonial Approaches to Mobile ProfessionalsAnne-Meike Fechter, Katie Walsh (eds.),  The New Expatriates: Postcolonial Approaches to Mobile Professionals  (Routledge, June 2012)

While scholarship on migration has been thriving for decades, little attention has been paid to professionals from Europe and America who move temporarily to destinations beyond ‘the West’. Such migrants are marginalised and depoliticised by debates on immigration policy, and thus there is an urgent need to develop nuanced understanding of these more privileged movements. In many ways, these are the modern-day equivalents of colonial settlers and expatriates, yet the continuities in their migration practices have rarely been considered.

The New Expatriates advances our understanding of contemporary mobile professionals by engaging with postcolonial theories of race, culture and identity. The volume brings together authors and research from across a wide range of disciplines, seeking to evaluate the significance of the past in shaping contemporary expatriate mobilities and highlighting postcolonial continuities in relation to people, practices and imaginations. Acknowledging the resonances across a range of geographical sites in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the chapters consider the particularity of postcolonial contexts, while enabling comparative perspectives. A focus on race and culture is often obscured by assumptions about class, occupation and skill, but this volume explicitly examines the way in which whiteness and imperial relationships continue to shape the migration experiences of Euro-American skilled migrants as they seek out new places to live and work.

This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Ethical Consumption: Social Value and Economic PracticeJames Carrier & Peter Luetchford (eds.)   Ethical Consumption: Social Value and Economic Practice  (London: Berghahn Books, March 2012)

Increasingly, consumers in North America and Europe see their purchasing as a way to express to the commercial world their concerns about trade justice, the environment and similar issues. This ethical consumption has attracted growing attention in the press and among academics. Extending beyond the growing body of scholarly work on the topic in several ways, this volume focuses primarily on consumers rather than producers and commodity chains. It presents cases from a variety of European countries and is concerned with a wide range of objects and types of ethical consumption, not simply the usual tropical foodstuffs, trade justice and the system of fair trade. Contributors situate ethical consumption within different contexts, from common Western assumptions about economy and society, to the operation of ethical-consumption commerce, to the ways that people’s ethical consumption can affect and be affected by their social situation. By locating consumers and their practices in the social and economic contexts in which they exist and that their ethical consumption affects, this volume presents a compelling interrogation of the rhetoric and assumptions of ethical consumption.

Discordant Development: Global Capitalism and the Struggle for Connection in BangladeshKaty Gardner,  Discordant Development: Global Capitalism and the Struggle for Connection in Bangladesh   (London: Pluto Press, Feb. 2012)

What happens when a vast multinational mining company operates a gas plant situated close to four densely populated villages in rural Bangladesh? How does its presence contribute to local processes of ‘development’? And what do corporate claims of ‘community engagement’ involve? Drawing from author Katy Gardner’s longstanding relationship with the area, Discordant Development reveals the complex and contradictory ways that local people attempt to connect to, and are disconnected by, foreign capital.

Everyone has a story to tell: whether of dispossession and scarcity, the success of Corporate Social Responsibility, or imperialist exploitation and corruption. Yet as Gardner argues, what really matters in the struggles over resources is which of these stories are heard, and the power of those who tell them.

Based around the discordant narratives of dispossessed land owners, urban activists, mining officials and the rural landless, Discordant Development touches on some of the most urgent economic and political questions of our time, including resource ownership and scarcity, and the impact of foreign investment and industrialisation on global development.

In Good CompanyDinah Rajak,  In Good Company - An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility  (Stanford University Press, 2011)

Under the banner of corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporations have become increasingly important players in international development. These days, CSR's union of economics and ethics is virtually unquestioned as an antidote to harsh neoliberal reforms and the delinquency of the state, but nothing is straightforward about this apparently win-win formula. Chronicling transnational mining corporation Anglo American's pursuit of CSR, In Good Company explores what lies behind the movement's marriage of moral imperative and market discipline.

From the company's global headquarters to its mineshafts in South Africa, Rajak reveals how CSR enables the corporation to accumulate and exercise power. Interested in CSR's vision of social improvement, Rajak highlights the dependency that the practice generates. This close examination of Africa's largest private sector employer not only brings critical attention to the dangers of corporate dominance, but also provides a lens through which to reflect on the wider global CSR movement.

Fatness and the Maternal BodyMaya Unnithan-Kumar and Soraya Tremayne (eds), Fatness and the Maternal Body: Women's Experiences of Corporeality and the Shaping of Social Policy (Berghahn, 2011).

Obesity is a rising global health problem. On the one hand, a clearly defined medical condition, it is at the same time a corporeal state embedded in the social and cultural perception of fatness and body shape and size. Focusing specifically on the maternal body, contributors to the volume examine how the language and notions of obesity connect with, or stand apart from, wider societal values and moralities to do with the body, fatness, reproduction, and what is considered “natural.” A focus on fatness in the context of human reproduction and motherhood offers instructive insights into the global circulation and authority of biomedical facts on fatness (as "risky" anti-fit, for example). As with other social and cultural studies critical of health policy discourse, this volume challenges the spontaneous connection being made in scientific and popular understanding between fatness and ill health.

Revolt and Crisis in GreeceAntonis Vradis and Dimitris Dalakoglou (eds), Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future Still to Come (AK Press, 2011).

How does a revolt come about and what does it leaves behind? What impact does it have on those who participate in it and those who simply watch it? Is the Greek revolt of December 2008 confined to the shores of the Mediterranean, or are there lessons we can bring to bear on social action around the globe? 'Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future' Still to Come is a collective attempt to grapple with these questions. A collaboration between anarchist publishing collectives Occupied London and AK Press, this timely new volume traces Greece's long moment of transition from the revolt of 2008 to the economic crisis that followed. In its twenty chapters, authors from around the world—including those on the ground in Greece—analyse how December became possible, exploring its legacies and the position of the social antagonist movement in face of the economic crisis and the arrival of the International Monetary Fund.

The Participation ReaderAndrea Cornwall, The Participation Reader (Zed Books, 2011).

Calls for greater participation of those affected by development interventions have a long history. This expert reader explores the conceptual and methodological dimensions of participatory research and the politics and practice of participation in development. Through excerpts from the texts that have inspired contemporary advocates of participation, accounts of the principles of participatory research and empirical studies that show some of the complexities of participation in practice, it offers a range of reflections on participation that will be of interest to those new to the field and experienced practitioners alike. Bringing together for the first time classic and contemporary writings from a literature that spans a century, it offers a unique perspective on the possibilities and dilemmas that face those seeking to enable those affected by development projects, programmes and policies.

 

Inside the   Everyday Lives of Development WorkersAnne-Meike Fechter and Heather Hindman (eds) Inside the Everyday Lives of Development Workers: The Challenges and Futures of Aidland (Kumarian, 2011).

Much and warranted attention is paid to aid recipients, including their livelihoods, saving habits, or gender relations. It is held that a key to measuring the effectiveness of aid is contained in such details. Rarely, however, is the lens turned on the lives of aid workers themselves. Yet the seemingly impersonal network of agencies and donors that formulate and implement policy are composed of real people with complex motivations and experiences that might also provide important lessons about development’s failures and successes.  Anne-Meike Fechter and Heather Hindman break new ground by illuminating the social and cultural world of the aid agency, a world that is neglected in most discussions of aid policy. They examine how aid workers’ moral beliefs interlink and conflict with their initial motivations, how they relate to aid beneficiaries, their local NGO counterparts, and other aid workers, their views on race and sexuality, the effect of transient lifestyles and insider language, and the security and family issues that come with choosing such a career. Ultimately, they arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of development processes that acknowledges a rich web of relationships at all levels of the system.

Deconstructing Development DiscourseAndrea Cornwall and Deborah Eade (eds), Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords (Practical Action Publishing, 2010).

Writing from diverse locations, the contributors to this volume examine some of the key terms in current development discourse. Why should language matter to those who are doing development? Surely, there are more urgent things to do than sit around mulling over semantics? But language does matter. Whether emptied of their original meaning, essentially vacuous, or hotly contested, the language of development not only shapes our imagined worlds, but also justifies interventions in real people’s lives. If development buzzwords conceal ideological differences or sloppy thinking, then the process of constructive deconstruction make it possible to re-examine what have become catch-all terms like civil society and poverty reduction, or bland aid-agency terms such as partnership or empowerment. Such engagement is far more than a matter of playing word games. The reflections included here raise major questions about how we think about development itself.

The Ways of   FriendshipAmit Desai and Evan Killick (eds), The Ways of Friendship: Anthropological Perspectives (Berghahn 2010).

Friendship is an essential part of human experience, involving ideas of love and morality as well as material and pragmatic concerns. Making and having friends is a central aspect of everyday life in all human societies. Yet friendship is often considered of secondary significance in comparison to domains such as kinship, economics and politics. How important are friends in different cultural contexts? What would a study of society viewed through the lens of friendship look like? Does friendship affect the shape of society as much as society moulds friendship? Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Europe, this volume edited by Amit Desai and Sussex anthropologist Evan Killick offers answers to these questions and examines the ideology and practice of friendship as it is embedded in wider social contexts and transformations.

Land, Labour and   EntrustmentPamela Kea, Land, Labour and Entrustment: West African Female Farmers and the Politics of Difference (Brill 2010).

Diverse contractual arrangements and forms of exchange established between smallholder farmers, their households and community work groups, are important to our understanding of processes of agrarian transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, little has been written in this area. Challenging portrayals of West African female farmers as a homogenous group, the present study provides an ethnographic account of the contractual relations established between female hosts and migrants, in the exchange of land and labour for agrarian production in a Gambian community. Further, it demonstrates the way in which, despite the liberalization of the economy, local cultural practices, such as that of entrustment, continue to be of significance in affecting the nature and particular character of agrarian transformation and postcolonial capitalist development.

Frameworks of   ChoiceMargaret Sleeboom-Faulkner (ed.), Frameworks of Choice: Predictive & Genetic Testing in Asia (University of Amsterdam Press, 2010).

Frameworks of Choice: Predictive and Genetic Testing in Asia is the first comparative study of predictive and genetic testing in Asia in the English language. The volume presents original theoretical analyses of the cultural and political dimensions of predictive and genetic testing by analysing the social, cultural, political and economic environment of choices that people have before and after they undergo a genetic or predic­tive test. These frameworks of choice also shed light on the different test options of people in developing countries and affluent welfare societies, explaining the so-called therapeutic gap occurring when no therapies are available after diagnosis.

 

 

Islam, Politics,   AnthropologyFilippo Osella and Benjamin Soares (eds), Islam, Politics, Anthropology (Wiley- Blackwell, 2010). 

This collection co-edited by Sussex anthropologist Filippo Osella and Benjamin Soares offers critical reflections on past and current studies of Islam and politics in anthropology and charts new analytical approaches to examining Islam in the highly charged atmosphere of the post–9/11 world. Working with an intentionally broad understanding of politics, the volume considers not just the state, formal politics, and organizations, but also everyday politics and micropolitics – arenas where anthropology is especially adept at analysis. Provocative and timely, Islam, Politics, Anthropology represents a valuable contribution to understanding the place of Islam in the 21st century world.