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New Books in Anthropology

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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books
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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books
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Lisa Uperesa, "Gridiron Capital: How American Football Became a Samoan Game" (Duke UP, 2022) Since the 1970s, a “Polynesian Pipeline” has brought football players from American Sāmoa to Hawaii and the mainland United States to play at the collegiate and professional levels. In Gridiron Capital: How American Football Became a Samoan Game (Duke University Press, 2022) Dr. Lisa Uperesa charts the cultural and social dynamics that have made football so central to Samoan communities. For Samoan athletes, football is not just an opportunity for upward mobility; it is a way to contribute to, support, and represent their family, village, and nation.Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, and media analysis, Dr. Uperesa shows how the Samoan ascendancy in football is underpinned by the legacies of US empire and a set of imperial formations that mark Indigenous Pacific peoples as racialized subjects of US economic aid and development. Samoan players succeed by becoming entrepreneurs: building and commodifying their bodies and brands to enhance their football stock and market value.Uperesa offers insights into the social and physical costs of pursuing a football career, the structures that compel Pacific Islander youth toward athletic labor, and the possibilities for safeguarding their health and wellbeing in the future.This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
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Lisa Uperesa, "Gridiron Capital: How American Football Became a Samoan Game" (Duke UP, 2022) Since the 1970s, a “Polynesian Pipeline” has brought football players from American Sāmoa to Hawaii and the mainland United States to play at the collegiate and professional levels. In Gridiron Capital: How American Football Became a Samoan Game (Duke University Press, 2022) Dr. Lisa Uperesa charts the cultural and social dynamics that have made football so central to Samoan communities. For Samoan athletes, football is not just an opportunity for upward mobility; it is a way to contribute to, support, and represent their family, village, and nation.Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, and media analysis, Dr. Uperesa shows how the Samoan ascendancy in football is underpinned by the legacies of US empire and a set of imperial formations that mark Indigenous Pacific peoples as racialized subjects of US economic aid and development. Samoan players succeed by becoming entrepreneurs: building and commodifying their bodies and brands to enhance their football stock and market value.Uperesa offers insights into the social and physical costs of pursuing a football career, the structures that compel Pacific Islander youth toward athletic labor, and the possibilities for safeguarding their health and wellbeing in the future.This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
William Matthews, "Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination" (Berghahn Books, 2021) Today I spoke to anthropologist William Mathews about his new book, Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination (Berghahn Books, 2021). This book explores how humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. Mathews explains the role that cognition plays in creating cosmologies, and explores this through the ethnography and history of Yijing divination in China. Diviners explain the cosmos in terms of a single substance, qi, unfolding across scales of increasing complexity to create natural phenomena and human experience. Combined with an understanding of human cognition, it shows how this conception of scale offers a new way for anthropologists and other social scientists to think about cosmology, comparison and cultural difference.Dr. Suvi Rautio is an anthropologist of China. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
Eviatar Zerubavel, "Generally Speaking: An Invitation to Concept-Driven Sociology" (Oxford UP, 2020) Defying the conventional split between “theory” and “methodology,” Eviatar Zerubavel's Generally Speaking: An Invitation to Concept-Driven Sociology (Oxford UP, 2020) introduces a yet unarticulated and thus far never systematised method of theorising designed to reveal abstract social patterns. Insisting that such methodology can actually be taught, it tries to make the mental processes underlying the practice of a “concept-driven sociology” more explicit. Many sociologists tend to study the specific, often at the expense of also studying the generic. To correct this imbalance, the book examines the theoretico-methodological process by which we can “distil” generic social patterns from the culturally, historically, and situationally specific contexts in which we encounter them. It thus champions a “generic sociology” that is pronouncedly transcontextual (transcultural, transhistorical, transsituational, and translevel) in its scope. In order to uncover generic, transcontextual social patterns, data need to be collected in a wide range of social contexts. Such contextual diversity is manifested multi-culturally, multi historically, multi situationally, as well as at multiple levels of social aggregation. True to its message, the book illustrates generic social patterns by drawing on numerous examples from diverse cultural contexts and historical periods and a wide range of diverse social domains, as well as by disregarding scale. Emphasising cross-contextual commonality, generic sociology tries to reveal formal “parallels” across seemingly disparate contexts. This book features the four main types of cross-contextual analogies generic sociologists tend to use (cross-cultural, cross-historical, cross-domain, and cross-level), disregarding conventionally noted substantive differences in order to note conventionally disregarded formal equivalences.Rituparna Patgiri is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She has a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests lie in the areas of food, media, gender and public. She is also one of the co-founders of Doing Sociology. Patgiri can be reached at @Rituparna37 on Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
Minh-Ha T. Pham, "Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property" (Duke UP, 2022) In 2016, social media users in Thailand called out the Paris-based luxury fashion house Balenciaga for copying the popular Thai “rainbow bag,” using Balenciaga’s hashtags to circulate memes revealing the source of the bags’ design. In Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property (Duke UP, 2022), Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the way social media users monitor the fashion market for the appearance of knockoff fashion, design theft, and plagiarism. Tracing the history of fashion antipiracy efforts back to the 1930s, she foregrounds the work of policing that has been tacitly outsourced to social media. Despite the social media concern for ethical fashion and consumption and the good intentions behind design policing, Pham shows that it has ironically deepened forms of social and market inequality, as it relies on and reinforces racist and colonial norms and ideas about what constitutes copying and what counts as creativity. These struggles over ethical fashion and intellectual property, Pham demonstrates, constitute deeper struggles over the colonial legacies of cultural property in digital and global economies.Lakshita Malik is a doctoral student in the department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on questions of intimacies, class, gender, and beauty in South Asia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
Anastasia Shesterinina, "Mobilizing in Uncertainty: Collective Identities and War in Abkhazia" (Cornell UP, 2021) Anastasia Shesterinina begins Mobilizing in Uncertainty: Collective Identities and War in Abkhazia (Cornell University Press, 2021) with an account of Georgian troops crossing into eastern Abkhazia, in the Southern Caucasus region adjacent Russia, on August 14, 1992. Thus the war that is the book’s subject began. Yet, people didn’t know it at the time. In fact, the question on people’s lips was: is this a war? The answer to the question was: yes. But the uncertainty to which the question gave voice led Shesterinina to the questions motivating this book, namely: how do ordinary people deal with uncertainty in civil war? How do they decide whether and in what way to mobilise, and for whom?On this episode of New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science Anastasia Shesterinina discusses her answers to these questions. Along the way, she also reflects on the inadequacies of theories that underestimate or overlook the uncertainty that pervades wartime conditions, particularly in wars’ earliest days; on the conduct and ethics of interview and ethnographic research in post-war settings; and, on the relevance of her research on Abkhazia for our understanding of the war in Ukraine today—and on why comparison of the two is, for her, not just an intellectually or politically interesting exercise.Mobilizing in Uncertainty is (with Mona El-Ghobashy’s Bread and Freedom: Egypt’s Revolutionary Situation, Stanford, 2021) joint winner of the 2022 Charles Taylor Book Award, awarded annually by the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group of the American Political Science Association for the best book in political science that employs or develops interpretive methodologies and methods.Nick Cheesman is associate professor in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University and in Fall 2022 a fellow at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo. He is a committee member of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group of the American Political Science Association and co-convenes the Interpretation, Method, Critique network at the ANU. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
David R. Stroup, "Pure and True: The Everyday Politics of Ethnicity for China's Hui Muslims" (U Washington Press, 2022) Compared to their Uyghur and Kazakh co-religionists in Xinjiang, China’s largest single Muslim group – the Hui – has received less media and scholarly attention lately, perhaps understandably so since the former groups have borne the brunt of the campaigns of ethnic enclosure and erasure launched in recent years by the Chinese Communist Party. But as a near-ubiquitous presence across China and thus a community deeply involved in the waves of migration and urbanisation affecting many PRC citizens in recent decades, the Hui offer a compelling case through which to examine how religious, ethnic, class and other identities intersect with these processes.Focusing on communities in four diverse Chinese cities, David Stroup’s Pure and True: The Everyday Politics of Ethnicity for China's Hui Muslims (U Washington Press, 2022) provides a careful dissection of the complex negotiations of intersecting identities that face today’s Hui. Based on dozens of interviews and ethnographic observation, this clearly written and persuasive book has much to say about how people’s day-to-day understandings of ‘Huiness’ intersect with the categories put forward by the state, and how local debates unfolding internally within Hui communities may be reframed as they themselves fall under the gaze of the ‘people’s war on terror.’Ed Pulford is an Anthropologist and Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and indigeneity in northeast Asia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
Michael J. Hathaway, "What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make" (Princeton UP, 2022) What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make (Princeton University Press, 2022) by Dr. Michael Hathaway pushes today’s mushroom renaissance in compelling new directions. For centuries, Western science has promoted a human- and animal-centric framework of what counts as action, agency, movement, and behavior. But, as Michael Hathaway shows, the world-making capacities of mushrooms radically challenge this orthodoxy by revealing the lively dynamism of all forms of life.The book tells the fascinating story of one particularly prized species, the matsutake, and the astonishing ways it is silently yet powerfully shaping worlds, from the Tibetan plateau to the mushrooms’ final destination in Japan. Many Tibetan and Yi people have dedicated their lives to picking and selling this mushroom—a delicacy that drives a multibillion-dollar global trade network and that still grows only in the wild, despite scientists’ intensive efforts to cultivate it in urban labs. But this is far from a simple story of humans exploiting a passive, edible commodity. Rather, the book reveals the complex, symbiotic ways that mushrooms, plants, humans, and other animals interact. It explores how the world looks to the mushrooms, as well as to the people who have grown rich harvesting them.Dr. Hathway gives us a surprise-filled journey into science and human culture, this exciting and provocative book shows how fungi shape our planet and our lives in strange, diverse, and often unimaginable ways.This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
On Online Churches Dr. Tim Hutchings is a sociologist of digital religion. His Ph.D. (Durham University, 2010) was an ethnographic study of five online Christian churches. Dr. Hutchings is interested in the relationship between religion, media and culture, with particular attention to digital forms of Christianity. His research has included studies of online worship; digital evangelism and formation; online community; digital publishing and e-reading; apps and games; and death and dying. His research led to the publication of his book Creating Church Online: Ritual, Community and New Media (Routledge, 2017). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
Victoria Reyes, "Academic Outsider: Stories of Exclusion and Hope" (Stanford UP, 2022) In Academic Outsider: Stories of Exclusion and Hope (Stanford University Press, 2022), sociologist Victoria Reyes combines her personal experiences with research findings to examine how academia creates conditional citizenship for its marginalized members. Reyes draws from her family background, experiences during routine university life, and academic scholarship to theorize the academic outsiders as those who "are constantly reminded that our presence in the academy is contingent and in constant flux" (10-11). She elaborates on how love and worth are assessed in the university and her experiences as a mother in the academy. The final chapter calls for academic justice and offers practical strategies to combat the academy's exclusionary practices. In this book Reyes contributes to important conversations in the university on the experiences of people of color, women, and those from marginalized backgrounds. This book will be of interest to those who experience the academy's conditional citizenship, those who want to understand how the university perpetuates inequality, and those who want to challenge these conditions. Victoria Reyes is Associate Professor in the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Global Borderlands (Stanford, 2019).Reighan Gillam is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media (Illinois, 2022).  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/anthropology
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