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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

New Books in Anthropology New Books Network

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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

    Sanjib Baruah, "In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Sanjib Baruah, "In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Sanjib Baruah’s latest book In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast (Stanford University Press, 2020) completes a trilogy on India’s northeastern borderland region of which the first two are India Against Itself: Assam and the Politics of Nationality (1999) and Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India (2005).
    Writing about a region that is 'an artifact of a deliberate policy', the directional name--the Northeast--is a postcolonial coinage that refers to the eight states of India that border Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Tibetan areas of China. Baruah's book is a wide-ranging analysis of a mode of governance that has become associated with the region where armed resistance, electoral institutions, states of exception and the force of development co-exist. Baruah's book is a dive into the 'unfinished business of partition' in this borderland region, contested sovereignty, citizenship and mobility and the postcolonial trajectory of the colonial state in its direct and indirect avatar. Scholars studying civil conflict and armed resistance as well as those studying the political economy of borderlands and nationalism will find in Baruah's book deep and comparative insights into universal concerns of federalism, development and democracy. This is a crucial text to introduce students and scholars to the dilemmas and contradictions of a democracy as well as a region to whose concern institutional academia has arrived rather belatedly.
    Dr. Sanjib Baruah is a Professor of Political Studies at Bard College.
    Bhoomika Joshi is a doctoral student in the department of anthropology at Yale University. 
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    • 1 tim. 7 min
    Marco Z. Garrido, "The Patchwork City: Class, Space and Politics in Metro Manila" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    Marco Z. Garrido, "The Patchwork City: Class, Space and Politics in Metro Manila" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    In contemporary Manila, slums and squatter settlements are peppered throughout the city, often pushing right up against the walled enclaves of the privileged, creating the complex geopolitical pattern of what sociologist Marco Garrido calls the “patchwork city.” Synthesizing literature in political sociology and urban studies, Garrido shows how experiences along the housing divide in Manila constitute political subjectivities and shape the very experience of democracy in contemporary Philippines.
    The Patchwork City: Class, Space and Politics in Metro Manila (University of Chicago Press, 2019) is a beautifully written ethnography is divided into two parts. In the first part, Garrido documents the fragmentation of Manila into a mélange of spaces defined by class, particularly slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He calls the pattern of urban fragmentation “interspersion” and persuasively argues that it is a spatial form distinct to cities in the Global South. This distinction is marked not by increasing segregation (as is the case with cities in the Global North) but by increasing proximity and dependence. For enclave residents, the proximity of slums is a source of insecurity, compelling them to impose spatial boundaries on slum residents. For slum residents, the regular imposition of these boundaries creates a pervasive sense of discrimination. Within this everyday, and almost normalized, sense of discrimination, the urban poor and middle class emerge not as labor and capital but as “squatters” and “villagers,” Manila’s name for subdivision residents. In other words, economic identities are unflinchingly spatialized.
    In the second part, Garrido looks beyond urban fragmentation to delineate its effects on class relations and politics, arguing that the proliferation of these slums and enclaves and their subsequent proximity have intensified class relations. Going beyond the realm of “the urban”, Garrido examines the politicization of this socio-spatial divide with the specific case of the populist president Joseph Estrada. The book ultimately argues that the two sides – middle-class and urban poor – are drawn into contention over not just the right to the city, but the nature of democracy itself.
    In all, The Patchwork City illuminates how segregation, class relations, and democracy are all intensely connected. It makes clear, ultimately, that class as a social structure is as indispensable to the study of Manila—and of many other cities of the Global South—as race is to the study of American cities.
    Sneha Annavarapu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.
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    • 48 min
    Jatin Dua, "Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean" (U California Press, 2019)

    Jatin Dua, "Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean" (U California Press, 2019)

    Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean (University of California Press, 2019) is a pirate story of a different kind. Based on years of ethnographic fieldwork in Somalia, the UK and other parts of Africa and the Middle East, Jatin Dua describes a tale that is not often told: how piracy works in the everyday lives of those involved in its grip. Professor Dua’s book draws from interviews and participant observation with pirates, merchants who were seized by pirates, merchants who supply pirates, insurance brokers who indemnify pirates’ victims and many others who are involved in the intimate, social and entirely real world of modern-day piracy in the Red and Arabian Seas.
    Jeffrey Bristol is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Boston University and a practicing attorney.
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    • 59 min
    Baptiste Brossard, "Why do We Hurt Ourselves? Understanding Self-Harm in Social Life" (Indiana UP, 2018)

    Baptiste Brossard, "Why do We Hurt Ourselves? Understanding Self-Harm in Social Life" (Indiana UP, 2018)

    Why does an estimated 5% of the general population intentionally and repeatedly hurt themselves? What are the reasons certain people resort to self-injury as a way to manage their daily lives?
    In Why do We Hurt Ourselves? Understanding Self-Harm in Social Life (Indiana University Press, 2018), sociologist Baptiste Brossard draws on a five-year survey of self-injurers and suggests that the answers can be traced to social, more than personal, causes. Self-injury is not a matter of disturbed individuals resorting to hurting themselves in the face of individual weaknesses and difficulties. Rather, self-injury is the reaction of individuals to the tensions that compose, day after day, the tumultuousness of their social life and position. Self-harm is a practice that people use to self-control and maintain order—to calm down, or to avoid "going haywire" or "breaking everything." More broadly, through this research Brossard works to develop a perspective on the contemporary social world at large, exploring quests for self-control in modern Western societies.
    In this interview, Dr. Brossard and I discuss how he came to study self-injury, managing the stigma of self-injury, how people use online forums for community, the discrete nature of self-injury, and the role of gender. I recommend this book for people interested in mental health, stigma, deviant behavior, and qualitative methods.
    Dr. Baptiste Brossard, (@BaptistBrossard) a French sociologist, is a lecturer at the Australian National University. He received his PhD in sociology at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (2011). His primary areas of research are mental health, sociological theory, qualitative methods and utopian studies.
    Krystina Millar is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University. Her research interests include gender, sociology of the body, and sexuality. You can find her on Twitter at @KrystinaMillar.
     
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    • 50 min
    Frederic C. Schaffer, "Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide" (Routledge, 2015)

    Frederic C. Schaffer, "Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide" (Routledge, 2015)

    For the third installment in our special series on interpretive political and social scientific research, Frederic C. Schaffer joins us to discuss his Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide (Routledge, 2015). In it, Fred explains why social scientists doing interpretive work need to be especially attentive to concepts and conceptualization. Contrasting positivist reconstruction of concepts with interpretivist elucidation of them, he proposes and spells out three elucidating strategies: grounding, locating and exposing.
    Elucidating Social Science Concepts is both a hands-on text for social scientific conceptualization and an agenda-setting publication that emerges out of Fred’s longstanding commitment to interpretivist methodologies and methods. The second of the Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods featured on New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science, this is a book that is clear in its goals, patient in its explanations and economical in its prose, accessible to graduate students but also full of instructive reminders and cautions for seasoned researchers.
    Listeners to this episode might also be interested in the symposium on Elucidating Social Science Concepts published in Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, available for free download.
    And to download or stream episodes in this series, please subscribe to our host channel: New Books in Political Science.
    Nick Cheesman is a fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University, and a committee member of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group. He co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asian Studies channel.
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    • 57 min
    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction.
    The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its different sizes, and discover mathematical impossibilities inherent in elections. They will tackle conundrums in probability, induction, geometry, and game theory; perform “supertasks”; build apparent perpetual motion machines; meet twins living in different millennia; explore the strange quantum world―and much more.
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    • 54 min

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