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Years in the making
Author: Cathrine Degnen

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.

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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.

‘Working the ground’ in Scotland

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'.

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Everyday life and conflict in eastern Sri Lanka
Author: Rebecca Walker

This book focuses on the experiences of Tamil-speaking people who have lived through and continue to face conflict and violence in Sri Lanka on a daily basis. It focuses on the years between 2005 and 2007 when the country was facing massive change in the lead up to the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamils Eelam (LTTE). At this time, while violence waxed and waned, intensifying at times and at others casting a dark shadow over daily encounters, people carried on with their lives, negotiating through and around the violence. The way in which the topics in the book flow reflects the author's journey of research and the various issues that became important along the way. Thus, in following the author's experiences through the conflict and the tsunami, the book builds up a larger and richer picture of life in Batticaloa that moves between accounts of everyday violence and suffering. Using ethnographic experiences and narratives collected over twenty-two months between 2004 and 2007, the book argues that to look to the moments of hope and imagination as well as the everyday endurance must constitute a core element of anthropological representations of violence and suffering. This includes highlighting the non-violent spaces or parts of daily life, which are less dramatically framed by violence, and are often lost in contexts of conflict, faded out as weak shadows to the more forceful violence.

Utopias of development
Author: Stewart Allen

Through an ethnographic study of the Barefoot College, an internationally renowned non-governmental development organisation (NGO) situated in Rajasthan, India, this book investigates the methods and practices by which a development organisation materialises and manages a construction of success. Paying particular attention to the material processes by which success is achieved and the different meanings that they act to perform, this book offers a timely and novel approach to how the world of development NGOs works. It further touches upon the general discrediting of certain kinds of expertise, moving the book beyond an anthropology of development to raise wider questions of general interest.

The author argues that the College, as a heterotopia and a prolific producer of various forms of development media, achieves its success through materially mediated heterotopic spectacles: enacted and imperfect utopias that constitute the desires, imaginings and Otherness of its society.

Founded by the charismatic figure of Bunker Roy, the Barefoot College has become a national and global icon of grassroots sustainable development. With a particular focus on the Barefoot College’s community-managed, solar photovoltaic development programme, this book considers the largely overlooked question of how it is that an NGO achieves a reputation for success.

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.

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.

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.

Ritual performance and belonging in everyday life

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.

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.