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.
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.
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.
This book takes a body of ethnographic data collected in 2001-2, during a year's fieldwork at the Bank of Scotland (BoS) and HBOS, and revisits it from the perspective of the 2014-16 period. It explores the tension between the 'ethnographic present' of the author's original research and the unavoidable alteration of perspective on that data that the economic crisis has created. The original research had been planned to take place in the BoS but in 2001, before the research began, BoS had merged with the Halifax to form HBOS. The book provides a long-term historical perspective on BoS/HBOS, from inception to the 2008 financial crisis, and then a consideration of the nature of historical explanation, under the rubric of 'theory'. The main attempts to explain the proximate causes of the 2008 crisis, as well as more encompassing political economic arguments about the trajectory and dynamics of capitalism are examined. The concept of 'culture' as applied to both national groups, Scots and English, and organizations, BoS and Halifax, are also dealt with. The book examines other governing concepts such as organisational change in the business world and social change, identity and the way Scottish and English experience their own personhood, and comparative nature of ethnographic research. The conclusion reviews and draws together the themes of the book, returning to the overarching question of historical perspective and explanation.
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.
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.
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".
Iraqi women in Denmark is an ethnographic study of ritual performance and place-making among Shi‘a Muslim Iraqi women in Copenhagen. The book explores how Iraqi women construct a sense of belonging to Danish society through ritual performances, and it investigates how this process is interrelated with their experiences of inclusion and exclusion in Denmark. The findings of the book refute the all too simplistic assumptions of general debates on Islam and immigration in Europe that tend to frame religious practice as an obstacle to integration in the host society. In sharp contrast to the fact that Iraqi women’s religious activities in many ways contribute to categorizing them as outsiders to Danish society, their participation in religious events also localizes them in Copenhagen. Drawing on anthropological theories of ritual, relatedness and place-making, the analysis underscores the necessity of investigating migrants’ notions of belonging not just as a phenomenon of identity, but also with regard to the social relations and practices through which belonging is constructed and negotiated in everyday life.The Iraqi women’s religious engagement is related to their social positions in Danish society, and the study particularly highlights how social class relations intersect with issues of gender and ethnicity in the Danish welfare state, linking women’s religious practices to questions of social mobility. The book contextualizes this analysis by describing women’s previous lives in Iraq and their current experiences with return visits to a post-war society.
Ethnographies of labour at sea must examine the experience of that labour, rather than contemplate the commodities that are produced, or resort to trite metaphors about watery 'flow' and 'immersion' This book takes up a labour-centred Marxist approach to human-environment relations, place and language, human-machine relations, technique and technology, political economy and violence. It explores how fishers make the sea productive through their labour, using technologies ranging from wooden boats to digital GPS plotters to create familiar places in a seemingly hostile environment. While most analyses of navigation assume that its purpose is orientation, virtually all navigation devices are used in techniques to solve the problem of relative position. Fishers frequently have to make impossible choices between safe seamanship and staying afloat economically, and the book describes the human impact of the high rate of deaths in the fishing industry. The lives of fishermen are affected by capitalist forces in the markets they sell to, forces that shape even the relations between fishers on the same boat. The book also discusses techniques people used to extend their bodies and perceptual abilities, the importance of controlling and delicately manipulating these extensions and the caring relationships of maintenance boats and machines required. A 'new anthropology of labour' and a 'decolonised anthropology dispenses with the disciplinary emphasis on the "outside" of capitalism and encompasses the dynamism and interconnections of global society'.
Seeking to better understand what it means to grow older in contemporary Britain from the perspective of older people themselves, this richly detailed ethnographic study engages in debates over selfhood and people’s relationships with time. Based on research conducted in an English former coal mining village, the book focuses on the everyday experiences of older people living there. It explores how the category of old age comes to be assigned and experienced in daily life through multiple registers of interaction. These include ‘memory work’ about people, places and webs of relations in a postindustrial setting that has undergone profound social transformation. Challenging both the notion of a homogenous relationship with time across generations and the idea of a universalised middle-aged self, the author argues that the complex interplay of social, cultural and physical attributes of ageing means that older people can come to occupy a different position in relation to time and to the self than younger people. This account provides fascinating insight into what is at stake for the ageing self in regards to how people come to know, experience and dwell in the world. It describes the ways in which these distinctive forms of temporality and narrativity also come to be used against older people, denigrated socially in some contexts as ‘less-than-fully adult’. This text will be of great interest to researchers and students in anthropology, sociology, human geography and social gerontology working on interests in selfhood, time, memory, the anthropology of Britain and the lived experience of social change.