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Neoliberal precarity, generational dispossession and call centre labour in Portugal

Call centres are a part of the daily lives of most people across the world, as they have become a privileged site of contact between firms and their clients. Drawing on the unusual advantage of long-term ethnographic fieldwork, this book describes the emergence of a regime of ‘disciplined agency’ within the Portuguese call centre sector. The notion of ‘disciplined agency’ is the guiding thread connecting the book’s account. Departing from a historical examination of the neoliberal economic restructuring of Portuguese capitalism shaping the emergence of the call centre sector, the analysis progresses through the ascendancy of call centres as icons of precarity in contemporary Portugal, and the specific features of the call centre labour process that configure a new means of commodifying the worker. This book engages in a discussion of the particular subjectivities and forms of personal dispossession attached to the value-extraction system of ‘disciplined agency’ deployed in call centre labour, and how it is facilitated by relationally and morally embedded structures of kin, generation and class.

The everyday lives of African migrants
Authors: Mark Maguire and Fiona Murphy

During the past fifteen years, many thousands of people have passed through the Irish asylum system, especially migrants from Africa. Public debates in Ireland, in common with other EU Member States, have been framed by ‘integration’ discourse. However, not enough is known about lived experiences of integration, especially among former asylum seekers and their families. This book builds on several years of in-depth ethnographic research to provide a striking portrait of the integration experiences of African migrants in Dundalk, Drogheda and Dublin. The book draws on contemporary anthropological theory to explore labour integration, civic and political participation, religion, education and youth identity. The stories of several key research participants are threaded through the book. The book draws out the rich voices of African migrants who struggle in their everyday lives to overcome racism and exclusion and, yet, are producing new cultural formations and generating reasons for societal hope. Set against the backdrop of a severe economic crisis and the ever-present hand of neo-liberal policies, this book is about everyday struggles and new visions for the future.

Forced displacement and onward migration
Author: Laura Jeffery

The Chagos islanders were forcibly uprooted from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean between 1965 and 1973. This book compares the experiences of displaced Chagos islanders in Mauritius with the experiences of those Chagossians who have moved to the UK since 2002. It provides an ethnographic comparative study of forced displacement and onward migration within the living memory of one community. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Mauritius and Crawley (West Sussex), the six chapters explore Chagossians' challenging lives in Mauritius, the mobilisation of the community, reformulations of the homeland, the politics of culture in exile, onward migration to Crawley, and attempts to make a home in successive locations. The book illuminates how displaced people romanticise their homeland through an exploration of changing representations of the Chagos Archipelago in song lyrics. Offering further ethnographic insights into the politics of culture, it shows how Chagossians in exile engage with contrasting conceptions of culture ranging from expectations of continuity and authenticity to enactments of change, loss, and revival.

Lifestyle migration and the ongoing quest for a better way of life
Author: Michaela Benson

This is a study of how lifestyle choices intersect with migration, and how this relationship frames and shapes post-migration lives. It presents a conceptual framework for understanding post-migration lives that incorporates culturally specific imaginings, lived experiences, individual life histories, and personal circumstances. Through an ethnographic lens incorporating in-depth interviews, participant observation, life and migration histories, this monograph reveals the complex process by which migrants negotiate and make meaningful their lives following migration. By promoting their own ideologies and lifestyle choices relative to those of others, British migrants in rural France reinforce their position as members of the British middle class, but also take authorship of their lives in a way not possible before migration. This is evident in the pursuit of a better life that initially motivated migration and continues to characterise post-migration lives. As the book argues, this ongoing quest is both reflective of wider ideologies about living, particularly the desire for authentic living, and subtle processes of social distinction. In these respects, the book provides an empirical example of the relationship between the pursuit of authenticity and middle-class identification practices.

Banal activism, electioneering and the politics of irrelevance
Author: Alexander Smith

This book is an ethnographic study of devolution and politics in Scotland, as well as of party-political activism more generally. It explores how Conservative Party activists who had opposed devolution and the movement for a Scottish Parliament during the 1990s attempted to mobilise politically following their annihilation at the 1997 General Election. The book draws on fieldwork conducted in Dumfries and Galloway – a former stronghold for the Scottish Tories – to describe how senior Conservatives worked from the assumption that they had endured their own ‘crisis’ in representation. The material consequences of this crisis included losses of financial and other resources, legitimacy and local knowledge for the Scottish Conservatives. The book ethnographically describes the processes, practices and relationships that Tory Party activists sought to enact during the 2003 Scottish and local government elections. Its central argument is that, having asserted that the difficulties they faced constituted problems of knowledge, Conservative activists cast to the geographical and institutional margins of Scotland became ‘banal’ activists. Believing themselves to be lacking in the data and information necessary for successful mobilisation during Parliamentary elections, local Tory Party strategists attempted to address their knowledge ‘crisis’ by burying themselves in paperwork and petty bureaucracy. Such practices have often escaped scholarly attention because they appear everyday and mundane, and are therefore less noticeable. Bringing them into view analytically has important implications for socio-cultural anthropologists, sociologists and other scholars interested in ‘new’ ethnographic objects, including activism, bureaucracy, democracy, elections and modern knowledge practices.

Palestine– Israel in British universities
Author: Ruth Sheldon

For over four decades, events in Palestine-Israel have provoked raging conflicts between members of British universities, giving rise to controversies around free speech, ‘extremism’, antisemitism and Islamophobia within higher education, which have been widely reported in the media and subject to repeated interventions by politicians. But why is this conflict so significant for student activists living at such a geographical distance from the region itself? And what role do emotive, polarised communications around Palestine-Israel play in the life of British academic institutions committed to the ideal of free expression?

This book invites students, academics and members of the public who feel concerned with this issue to explore the sources of these visceral encounters on campus. Drawing on original ethnographic research with conflicting groups of activists, it explores what is at stake for students who are drawn into struggles around Palestine-Israel within changing university spaces facing pressures associated with neoliberalism and the ‘War on Terror’. It begins from this case study to argue that, in an increasingly globalised world that is shaped by entangled histories of the Nazi Holocaust and colonial violence, members of universities must develop creative and ethical ways of approaching questions of justice.

Tragic Encounters and Ordinary Ethics curates an ethnographic imagination in response to the political tensions arising out of the continuing violence in Palestine-Israel. It invites students and academics to attend to lived experiences within our own university institutions in order to cultivate ethical forms of communication in response to conflicts of justice.

Identity and politics in a contemporary folk resurgence

This book looks in detail at the growth in popularity and profile of the English folk arts in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Based on original research within English folk culture, it is the only ethnographic study of its kind. The book first examines the salient characteristics of the twenty-first-century English folk resurgence. Then, it looks at the development of a 'folk industry', beginning with a broad analysis of the historical context of the first two folk revivals. Taking the emergence of folk industry conferences as a case study, it traces the folk industry's web of intersecting institutions and discourses. Its second case study of the new folk club the Magpie's Nest examines further the coming together of commercialisation and professionalisation with the folk ethos. The book also discusses the actual music and dance being performed within the English folk arts, and considers the ways in which these texts are engaging with both popular and high-art cultural products and processes. It gives a brief contextualisation of the wider cultural interest in Englishness within which the folk resurgence is situated. Following on from the exploration of England, the book analyses the versions of Englishness that can be found within the work of contemporary English folk artists. The book codifies a range of English identities under construction in the resurgence, and examines their politics. It concludes with a consideration of some broader theoretical issues raised by the author's findings.

Ethnographic nostalgia and authenticity in Emberá clothes

Exoticisation Undressed is an innovative ethnography that makes visible the many layers through which our understandings of indigenous cultures are filtered and their inherent power to distort and refract understanding. The book focuses in detail on the clothing practices of the Emberá in Panama, an Amerindian ethnic group, who have gained national and international visibility through their engagement with indigenous tourism. The very act of gaining visibility while wearing indigenous attire has encouraged among some Emberá communities a closer identification with an indigenous identity and a more confident representational awareness. The clothes that the Emberá wear are not simply used to convey messages, but also become constitutive of their intended messages. By wearing indigenous-and-modern clothes, the Emberá—who are often seen by outsiders as shadows of a vanishing world—reclaim their place as citizens of a contemporary nation. The analysis presented in the book makes visible ‘ethnographic nostalgia’, the distorting view that the present seems to emerge through the pages of a previous ethnography—a mirage: for example, the Emberá carrying out their daily chores dressed as their grandparents. Ethnographic nostalgia distorts social reality by superimposing an interpretation of underlying cultural patterns over intentional or purposeful action. Through reflexive engagement, Exoticisation Undressed exposes the workings of ethnographic nostalgia and the Western quest for a singular, primordial authenticity, unravelling instead new layers of complexity that reverse and subvert exoticisation.

Making race, class and inequalityin the neoliberal academy
Author: Christy Kulz

Over half of England's secondary schools are now academies. The social and cultural outcomes prompted by this neoliberal educational model has received less scrutiny. This book draws on original research based at Dreamfields Academy, to show how the accelerated marketization and centralization of education is reproducing raced, classed and gendered inequalities. Urbanderry is a socially and economically mixed borough where poverty and gentrification coexist. The book sketches out the key features of Dreamfields' ethos before reflecting on the historical trajectories that underpin how education, urban space and formations of race, class and gender are discussed in the present. Academies have faced opposition for their lack of democratic accountability as they can set their own labour conditions, deviate from the national curriculum and operate outside local authority control. The book examines the complex stories underlying Dreamfields' glossy veneer of success and shows how students, teachers and parents navigate the everyday demands of Dreamfields' results-driven conveyor belt. It also examines how hierarchies are being reformulated. The book interrogates the social and cultural dimensions of this gift that seeks to graft more 'suitable' forms of capital onto its students. The focus is on the conditions underlying this gift's exchange with children, parents and teachers, remaining conscious of how value is generated from the power, perspective and relationships that create the initial conditions of possibility for exchange. Dreamfields acts as a symbolic and material response to the supposed failures of comprehensive education and public anxieties over the loss of nationhood and prestige of empire.

Author: Wing-Chung Ho

This book is about the lived experience of occupationally sick workers in China. When China initiated its economic reform in 1978, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) started attracting immense industrial capital from Hong Kong. The aftermath of the Zhili fire marked the invention and consolidation of different strategies on the part of Hong Kong-based NGOs to protect the rights of Chinese workers. The spinning-off of Labor Action China (LAC) from Christian Industrial Committee (CIC) in 2005 was prompted by the surge of pneumoconiosis cases among gemstone/jewelry workers in Guangdong province. In understanding the post-illness experiences of sick Chinese workers, the book subscribes to Michel Foucault's view that they face a hybrid of powers involving sovereignty, discipline, and governmentality. It argues that the social estrangement of Chinese sick workers can be understood as an instantiation of Agamben's notion of homo sacer - the ultimate biopolitical subject whose life is located outside "normal" political, economic, and cultural practices. The narratives of cadmium-poisoned workers suggest that they usually find themselves in situations where their rights are being exploited. Sick workers tend to strategize their pursuit of compensation toward the mode of "rightful resistance". The book sheds light on one response pattern observed at the actor-power interface, the compromising citizenry. It discusses the three major types of preferred ways of seeking compensation solicited from different groups of occupationally sick workers, namely, the craving for sick role status, rightful resistance, and compromising citizenry, can be considered as struggles for obtaining "legality".