300 episodes

Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

New Books in Anthropology New Books Network

    • Social Sciences

Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

    Jonathan Parry, "Classes of Labor: Work and Life in an Indian Steel Town" (Routledge, 2020)

    Jonathan Parry, "Classes of Labor: Work and Life in an Indian Steel Town" (Routledge, 2020)

    Classes of Labour: Work and Life in a Central Indian Steel Town (Routledge, 2020) is a classic in the social sciences. The rigour and richness of the ethnographic data of this book and its analysis is matched only by its literary style. This magnum opus of 732 pages, an outcome of fieldwork covering twenty-one years, complete with diagrams and photographs, reads like an epic novel, difficult to put down. Professor Jonathan Parry looks at a context in which the manual workforce is divided into distinct social classes, which have a clear sense of themselves as separate and interests that are sometimes opposed. The relationship between them may even be one of exploitation; and they are associated with different lifestyles and outlooks, kinship and marriage practices, and suicide patterns. A central concern is with the intersection between class, caste, gender and regional ethnicity, with how class trumps caste in most contexts and with how classes have become increasingly structured as the ‘structuration’ of castes has declined. The wider theoretical ambition is to specify the general conditions under which the so-called ‘working class’ has any realistic prospect of unity.
    Today I talked with the author, Jonathan Parry, emeritus professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics (in collaboration with Ajay TG) and John Harriss, emeritus professor of international studies at Simon Fraser University.
    Sneha Annavarapu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.
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    • 1 hr 53 min
    Sarah Knott, "Mother is a Verb: An Unconventional History" (Penguin, 2020)

    Sarah Knott, "Mother is a Verb: An Unconventional History" (Penguin, 2020)

    Mothering is as old as human existence. But how has this most essential experience changed over time and cultures? What is the history of maternity—the history of pregnancy, birth, the encounter with an infant? In Mother Is a Verb: An Unconventional History (Sarah Crichton Books, 2020), Sarah Knott creates a genre all her own in order to craft a new kind of historical interpretation. Blending memoir and history and building from anecdote, her book brings the past and the present viscerally alive. As a history, Mother: An Unconventional History draws on the terrain of Britain and North America from the seventeenth century to the close of the twentieth. Knott searches among a range of past societies, from those of Cree and Ojibwe women to tenant farmers in Appalachia; from enslaved people on South Carolina rice plantations to tenement dwellers in New York City and London’s East End. She pores over diaries, letters, court records, medical manuals, items of clothing. And she explores and documents her own experiences.
    Dr. Julia M. Gossard is assistant professor of history and distinguished assistant professor of honor’s education at Utah State University. A historian of 18th-century France, Julia’s manuscript, Young Subjects: Childhood, State-Building, & Social Reform in the 18th-century French World (forthcoming, McGill-Queen’s UP), examines children as important actors in social reform, state-building, and imperial projects across the early modern French world. Dr. Gossard is active on Twitter. To learn more about her teaching, research, and experience in digital humanities, visit her website.
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    • 40 min
    Candi K. Cann, "Dying to Eat: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Food, Death and the Afterlife" (UP of Kentucky, 2018)

    Candi K. Cann, "Dying to Eat: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Food, Death and the Afterlife" (UP of Kentucky, 2018)

    In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Candi K. Cann, editor of the new collection, Dying to Eat: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Food, Death and the Afterlife (University Press of Kentucky).
    Dying to Eat is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that examine the role of food in rituals surrounding death and dying from around the globe.
    Cann, who identifies herself as a death studies scholar, divides the collection into two ways of using food in death rituals: “Dining With the Dead” and “Eating After: Food and Drink in Bereavement and Remembrance.” The first essays examine rituals where food is offered to the deceased or to ancestors, while the second half focuses on sharing food between the bereaved or preparing food for mourners.
    This division extends from a understanding that some cultures “care for” the dead while others “remember” the dead. To care for the dead in this way may include offering food and drink, allowing the living and the deceased to maintain “an active and participatory relationship” (4).
    These essays describe the symbolism of food in Chinese funerary rites and ancestral worship, Korean memorial festivities that negotiate between Catholic and Buddhist traditions, and the role of sugar and alcohol in holidays commemorating the dead in China, Mexico, and the US. Conversely, remembering the dead is “a renegotiation of life without the deceased;” these food rituals may be more focused on repairing the social fabric in the community of the living (4).
    These chapters describe meals after funeral rites including communal meals in the US South, traditions of mourning in Judaism, expensive displays of national and class identities in Moroccan Muslim families, the community function of funeral meals in Tswana and Zulu peoples in South Africa, and the role of alcohol in a short-lived secret society in 1880s Chicago. The diversity of the collection provides an excellent introduction to the topic.
    Dr. Candi K. Cann is Associate Professor of Religion at Baylor University.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
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    • 52 min
    Drew Thomases, "Guest is God: Pilgrimage, Tourism, and Making Paradise in India" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Drew Thomases, "Guest is God: Pilgrimage, Tourism, and Making Paradise in India" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    In Guest is God: Pilgrimage, Tourism, and Making Paradise in India (Oxford University Press, 2019) Drew Thomases investigates the Indian pilgrimage town of Pushkar.
    While the town consists of 20,000 residents, it boasts two million visitors annually. Sacred to the creator god, Brahma, Pushkar is understood as heaven on earth – a heaven heavily marked by tourism and globalization. You can learn about the lives of the residents of Pushkar through Thomases fascinating ethnographic fieldwork.
    Drew Thomases is Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at San Diego State University. His work focuses on the anthropology of religion in North India--more specifically, Hindu pilgrimage and practice--though he is broadly interested in tourism, globalization, environmentalism, and theoretical approaches to the study of religion.
    For information about your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see https://www.rajbalkaran.com/scholarship
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    • 58 min
    Ali Meghji, "Black Middle-Class Britannia: Identities, Repertoires, Cultural Consumption" (Manchester UP, 2019)

    Ali Meghji, "Black Middle-Class Britannia: Identities, Repertoires, Cultural Consumption" (Manchester UP, 2019)

    Who are the Black middle-class in Britain?
    In Black Middle-Class Britannia: Identities, Repertoires, Cultural Consumption (Manchester University Press, 2019) Ali Meghji, a lecturer in social inequalities at the University of Cambridge, considers the identity of Britain’s Black middle-class by understanding culture and cultural consumption.
    Offering examples from across contemporary art and culture, the book provides both a theoretical framework and rich empirical data to demonstrate the importance of understanding race to the study of both class and culture.
    As a result, the book is essential reading across the arts and social sciences, as well as for cultural practitioners and policymakers.
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    • 35 min
    Pepper Glass, "Misplacing Ogden, Utah" (U Utah Press, 2020)

    Pepper Glass, "Misplacing Ogden, Utah" (U Utah Press, 2020)

    Pepper Glass’s new book Misplacing Ogden, Utah: Race, Class, Immigration, and the Construction of Urban Reputation (University of Utah Press, 2020) evaluates the widely held assumption that divisions between urban areas are reflections of varying amounts of crime, deprivation, and other social, cultural, and economic problems.
    Glass uses Ogden, Utah as a case study to argue that urban reputations are “moral frontiers” that uphold and create divides between the reputations of members of a community.
    As a working-class city, Ogden, Utah has long held a history of racial and immigrant diversity. Among many Utahns this community gained a reputation as a "sin city" in the middle of an entrenched religious culture.
    Glass blends ethnographic research with historical accounts, census reports, and other secondary sources to provide insight into Ogden’s reputation, past and present.
    This book captures the perception of residents of the entire city as opposed to only a sector of the community. Glass’s unique approach suggests that we can do a better job at confronting urban problems by rethinking the assumptions we have about place and promoting interventions that breakdown boundaries.
    Pepper Glass, Ph.D. is associate professor of sociology at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He has published his research on racial inequality, social movements, and youth culture in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Mobilization, and the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.
    Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is assistant professor of sociology at William Penn University. He earned his doctoral degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Walden University. He researches place and the process of place making as it is presented in everyday social interactions. You can find more about him on his website, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst or email him at johnstonmo@wmpenn.edu.
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    • 34 min

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