300 episodes

Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

New Books in Anthropology New Books Network

    • Social Sciences
    • 4.4, 15 Ratings

Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books

    Sam Han, "(Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty" (Routledge, 2020)

    Sam Han, "(Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty" (Routledge, 2020)

    In modern times, death is understood to have undergone a transformation not unlike religion. Whereas in the past it was out in the open, it now resides mostly in specialized spaces of sequestration—funeral homes, hospitals and other medical facilities. A mainstay in so-called traditional societies in the form of ritual practices, death was usually messy but meaningful, with the questions of what happens to the dead or where they go lying at the heart of traditional culture and religion. In modernity, however, we are said to have effectively sanitized it, embalmed it and packaged it—but it seems that death is back. In the current era marked by economic, political and social uncertainty, we see it on television, on the Internet; we see it almost everywhere.
    In his new book, (Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty (Routledge, 2020), Sam Han analyzes the nexus of death and digital culture in the contemporary moment in the context of recent developments in social, cultural and political theory. It argues that death today can be thought of as "interfaced," that is mediated and expressed, in various aspects of contemporary life rather than put to the side or overcome, as many narratives of modernity have suggested. Employing concepts from anthropology, sociology, media studies and communications, (Inter)Facing Death examines diverse phenomena where death and digital culture meet, including art, online suicide pacts, the mourning of celebrity deaths, terrorist beheadings and selfies. Providing new lines of thinking about one of the oldest questions facing the human and social sciences, this book will appeal to scholars and students of social and political theory, anthropology, sociology and cultural and media studies with interests in death.
    Matt Coward-Gibbs is an Associate Lecturer and PhD student in Sociology at the University of York. He is the editor of the forthcoming collection Death, Culture and Leisure: Playing Dead (Emerald, 2020). You can find his university page here.
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    • 52 min
    Kathryn M. De Luna, "Collecting Food, Collecting People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa" (Yale UP, 2016)

    Kathryn M. De Luna, "Collecting Food, Collecting People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa" (Yale UP, 2016)

    In Collecting Food, Collecting People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa (Yale University Press, 2016), Kathryn M. De Luna documents the evolving meanings borne in the collection of wild foods for an agricultural people in south central Africa around the turn of the first millennium. It is a history of everyday life that bears great insight into how people adapt meaning from different aspects of life to create new forms of social organization. Specifically, her study helps explain how expertise in hunting and gathering became a basis for social status in a decentralized society. In doing so, her study upends long-standing Enlightenment notions about the evolutionary role of agricultural surplus as a driver of social complexity. De Luna is the Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University.
    Paul Bjerk is an associate professor of African History at Texas Tech University, and the author of Building a Peaceful Nation: Julius Nyerere and the Establishment of Sovereignty in Tanzania, 1960-1964 (Rochester University Press, 2015)
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Michele Wakin, "Hobo Jungle: A Homeless Community in Paradise" (Lynne Rienner, 2020)

    Michele Wakin, "Hobo Jungle: A Homeless Community in Paradise" (Lynne Rienner, 2020)

    Michele Wakin’s new book Hobo Jungle: A Homeless Community in Paradise (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2020) is an up-close exploration of the evolution that has taken place with unsheltered homelessness. She provided an evocative portrait of a jungle encampment that has endured since the Great Depression in one of the wealthiest cities located on California’s south coast.
    The realities of homelessness are quite complex. For decades unhoused populations have lived in camps or other makeshift settings, even when shelters are available. Is this a chosen act of resistance? Is it an act of self-preservation? Or do homeless people live on the streets (and in the “Jungle”) because they are too addicted, too mentally ill, or too criminal to live by the rules and regulations of a shelter?
    Michele Wakin, Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Bridgewater State University. She is the author of Otherwise Homeless: Vehicle Living and the Culture of Homelessness.
    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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    • 51 min
    James C. Scott, "Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States" (Yale UP, 2017)

    James C. Scott, "Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States" (Yale UP, 2017)

    We are schooled to believe that states formed more or less synchronously with settlement and agriculture. In Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (Yale University Press, 2017), James C. Scott asks us to question this belief. The evidence, he says, is simply not on the side of states. Stratified, taxing, walled towns did not inevitably appear in the wake of crop domestication and sedentary settlement. Only around 3100 BCE, some four millennia after the earliest farming and settling down, did they begin making their presence felt. What happened in these four millennia is the subject of this book: a deep history by “a card-carrying political scientist and an anthropologist and environmentalist by courtesy”, which aims to put the earliest states in their place.
    James Scott joins us for the fourth episode of New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science to talk about state fragility and state persistence from Mesopotamia to Southeast Asia, the politics of cereal crops, domestication and reproduction, why it was once good to be a barbarian, the art of provocation, the views of critics, and, human and animal species relations and zoonoses in our epidemiological past and pandemic present.
    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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    • 54 min
    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020)
    Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced.
    John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at john.weston@aalto.fi and @johnwphd.
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    • 2 hr
    Alexander L. Fattal, "Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

    Alexander L. Fattal, "Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

    Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (University of Chicago Press, 2019) investigates the Colombian government’s campaign to turn Marxist guerrilla fighters in the FARC into consumer citizens. In this ethnography, Alexander L. Fattal explores the ways marketing became a tactic of counterinsurgency as a means of a humanitarian intervention, which has proven stunning and illusory. The work draws on archival research and extensive fieldwork with Colombian Ministry of Defense, former rebels, political exiles, and peace negotiators in Colombia, Sweden, and Cuba. Alex. Fattal is assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of California at San Diego.
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    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

dkd84 ,

Engaging and informative

This podcast covers a wide range of books, and the conversations are really interesting.

TricksterCoyote ,

Great podcast! Great info!

I love hearing about new books coming out in anthropology! Thank you for sharing!

Busyprofessorseeksshortpodcast ,

Mixed feelings

I like the range of books you cover in the series. However, I'd appreciate a much shorter show. To actually concentrate on an hour long not mindless show, I'm using time I should just be reading. A succinct 20 minutes would be better and allow listeners enough to either get the book and read or move on.

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