Home -> Browse
After the Pink Tide
Corporate State Formation and New Egalitarianisms in Latin America
Gold, M. & Zagato, A. (eds)
The left-wing Pink Tide movement that swept across Latin America seems now to be overturned, as a new wave of free-market thinkers emerge across the continent. This book analyses the emergence of corporate power within Latin America and the response of egalitarian movements across the continent trying to break open the constraints of the state. Through an ethnographically grounded and localized anthropological perspective, this book argues that at a time when the regular structures of political participation have been ruptured, the Latin American context reveals multiple expressions of egalitarian movements that strive (and sometimes momentarily manage) to break through the state’s apparatus.
Brazilian Steel Town
Machines, Land, Money and Commoning in the Making of the Working Class
Volta Redonda is a Brazilian steel town founded in the 1940s by dictator Getúlio Vargas on an ex-coffee valley as a powerful symbol of Brazilian modernization. The city’s economy, and consequently its citizen’s lives, revolves around the Companha Siderurgica Nacional (CSN), the biggest industrial complex in Latin America. Although the glory days of the CSN have long passed, the company still controls life in Volta Redonda today, creating as much dispossession as wealth for the community. Brazilian Steel Town tells the story of the people tied to this ailing giant – of their fears, hopes, and everyday struggles.
The Children of Gregoria
Dogme Ethnography of a Mexican Family
Kristensen, R. & Adeath Villamil, C.
The Children of Gregoria portrays a struggling Mexico, told through the story of the Rosales family. The people entrenched in the violent communities that the Rosales belong to have been discussed, condemned, analyzed, joked about and cheered, but rarely have they been seriously listened to. This book highlights their voices and allows them to tell their own stories in an accessible, literary manner without prejudice, persecution or judgment.
Landscapes of Migration, Violence and the State
Drawing from ethnographic material based on long-term research, this volume considers competing forms of power at micro- and macro-levels in Guyana, where the local is marked by extensive migration, corruption, and differing levels of violence. It shows how the local is occupied and re-occupied by various powerful and powerless people and entities (“big ones” and “small ones”), and how it becomes the site of intense power negotiations in relation to external ideas of empowerment.
The Devil is Disorder
Bodies, Spirits and Misfortune in a Trinidadian Village
What role might the Devil have in health and illness? The Devil is Disorder explores constructions of the body, health, illness and wider misfortune in a Trinidadian village where evangelical Christianity is growing in popularity. Based on long-term ethnography and locating the village in historical and global context, the book takes a nuanced cosmological approach to situate evangelical Christian understandings as shaping and being shaped by their context and, in the process, shaping individuals themselves. As people move from local to global subjects, health here stretches beyond being a matter of individual bodies and is connected to worldwide flows and networks, spirit entities, and expansive moral orders.
Dignity for the Voiceless
Willem Assies's Anthropological Work in Context
Salman, T., Marti i Puig, S., & Haar, G. van der (eds)
Willem Assies died in 2010 at the age of 55. The various stages of his career as a political anthropologist of Latin American illustrate how astute a researcher he was. He had a keen eye for the contradictions he observed during his fieldwork but also enjoyed theoretical debate. A distrust of power led him not only to attempt to understand “people without voice” but to work alongside them so they could discover and find their own voice. Willem Assies explored the messy, often untidy daily lives of people, with their inconsistencies, irrationalities, and passions, but also with their hopes, sense of beauty, solidarity, and quest for dignity. This collection brings together some of Willem Assies’s best, most fascinating, and still highly relevant writings.
Subjects: Anthropology (General)
Edges, Fringes, Frontiers
Integral Ecology, Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainability in Guyana
Henfrey, T. B.
Based on an ethnographic account of subsistence use of Amazonian forests by Wapishana people in Guyana, Edges, Frontiers, Fringes examines the social, cultural and behavioral bases for sustainability and resilience in indigenous resource use. Developing an original framework for holistic analysis, it demonstrates that flexible interplay among multiple modes of environmental understanding and decision-making allows the Wapishana to navigate socio-ecological complexity successfully in ways that reconcile short-term material needs with long-term maintenance and enhancement of the resource base.
Public Policies and Citizen Participation in Chile
Since the end of the Pinochet regime, Chilean public policy has sought to rebuild democratic governance in the country. This book examines the links between the state and civil society in Chile and the ways social policies have sought to ensure the inclusion of the poor in society and democracy. Although Chile has gained political stability and grown economically, the ability of social policies to expand democratic governance and participation has proved limited, and in fact such policies have become subordinate to an elitist model of democracy and resulted in a restrictive form of citizen participation.
Subjects: Sociology Political and Economic Anthropology
Fifty Years of Peasant Wars in Latin America
Binford, L., Gill, L., & Striffler, S. (eds)
Informed by Eric Wolf’s Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century, published in 1969, this book examines selected peasant struggles in seven Latin American countries during the last fifty years and suggests the continuing relevance of Wolf’s approach. The seven case studies are preceded by an Introduction in which the editors assess the continuing relevance of Wolf’s political economy. The book concludes with Gavin Smith’s reflection on reading Eric Wolf as a public intellectual today.
A Goddess in Motion
Visual Creativity in the Cult of María Lionza
The current practice of the cult of María Lionza is one of the most important and yet unexplored religious practices in Venezuela. Based on long-term fieldwork, this book explores the role of images and visual culture within the cult. By adopting a relational approach, A Goddess in Motion shows how the innumerable images of this goddess—represented as an Indian, white or mestizo woman—move constantly from objects to bodies, from bodies to dreams, and from the religion domain to the art world. In short, this book is a fascinating study that sheds light on the role of visual creativity in contemporary religious manifestations.
House of the Waterlily
A Novel of the Ancient Maya World
Set in the Maya civilization’s Late Classic Period House of the Waterlily is a historical novel centered on Lady Winik, a young Maya royal. Through tribulations that mirror the political calamities of the Late Classic world, Winik’s personal story immerses the reader not only in her daily life, but also in the difficult decisions Maya men and women must have faced as they tried to navigate a rapidly changing world. Kelli Carmean’s novel brings to life a people and an era remote from our own, yet recognizably human all the same.
Housing and Belonging in Latin America
Klaufus, C. & Ouweneel, A. (eds)
The intricacies of living in contemporary Latin American cities include cases of both empowerment and restriction. In Lima, residents built their own homes and formed community organizations, while in Rio de Janeiro inhabitants of the favelas needed to be “pacified” in anticipation of international sporting events. Aspirations to “get ahead in life” abound in the region, but so do multiple limitations to realizing the dream of upward mobility. This volume captures the paradoxical histories and experiences of urban life in Latin America, offering new empirical and theoretical insights to scholars.
Subjects: Urban Studies Sociology
The Imbalance of Power
Leadership, Masculinity and Wealth in the Amazon
Amerindian societies have an iconic status in classical political thought. For Montaigne, Hobbes, Locke, Hume and Rousseau, the native American ‘state of nature’ operates as a foil for the European polity. Challenging this tradition, The Imbalance of Power demonstrates ethnographically that the Carib speaking indigenous societies of the Guiana region of Amazonia do not fit conventional characterizations of ‘simple’ political units with ‘egalitarian’ political ideologies and ‘harmonious’ relationships with nature. Marc Brightman builds a persuasive and original theory of Amerindian politics: far from balanced and egalitarian, Carib societies are rife with tension and difference; but this imbalance conditions social dynamism and a distinctive mode of cohesion. The Imbalance of Power is based on the author’s fieldwork in partnership with Vanessa Grotti, who is working on a companion volume entitled Living with the Enemy: First Contacts and the Making of Christian Bodies in Amazonia.
Subject: Anthropology (General)
In Search of Legitimacy
How Outsiders Become Part of the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Tradition
Griffith, L. M.
Every year, countless young adults from affluent, Western nations travel to Brazil to train in capoeira, the dance/martial art form that is one of the most visible strands of the Afro-Brazilian cultural tradition. In Search of Legitimacy explores why “first world” men and women leave behind their jobs, families, and friends to pursue a strenuous training regimen in a historically disparaged and marginalized practice. Using the concept of apprenticeship pilgrimage—studying with a local master at a historical point of origin—the author examines how non-Brazilian capoeiristas learn their art and claim legitimacy while navigating the complexities of wealth disparity, racial discrimination, and cultural appropriation.
Subjects: Performance Studies Anthropology (General)
Indigeneity and the Sacred
Indigenous Revival and the Conservation of Sacred Natural Sites in the Americas
Sarmiento, F. & Hitchner, S. (eds)
This book presents current research in the political ecology of indigenous revival and its role in nature conservation in critical areas in the Americas. An important contribution to evolving studies on conservation of sacred natural sites (SNS), the book elucidates the complexity of development scenarios within cultural landscapes related to the appropriation of religion, environmental change in indigenous territories, and new conservation management approaches. Indigeneity and the Sacred explores how these struggles for land, rights, and political power are embedded within physical landscapes, and how indigenous identity is reconstituted as globalizing forces simultaneously threaten and promote the notion of indigeneity.
Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics
Essays in Historical Realism
Contemporary forms of capitalism and the state require close analytic attention to reveal the conditions of possibility for effective counter-politics. On the other hand the practice of collective politics needs to be studied through historical ethnography if we are to understand what might make people’s actions effective. This book suggests a research agenda designed to maximize the political leverage of ordinary people faced with ever more remote states and technologies that make capitalism increasingly rapacious. Gavin Smith opens and closes this series of interlinked essays by proposing a concise framework for untangling what he calls “the society of capital” and subsequently a potentially controversial way of seeing its contemporary features. This book tackles the political conundrums of our times and asks what roles intellectuals might play therein.
Island Historical Ecology
Socionatural Landscapes of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean
Siegel, P. (ed)
In the first book-length treatise on historical ecology of the West Indies, Island Historical Ecology addresses Caribbean island ecologies from the perspective of social and cultural interventions over approximately eight millennia of human occupations. Environmental coring carried out in carefully selected wetlands allowed for the reconstruction of pre-colonial and colonial landscapes on islands between Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Comparisons with well-documented patterns in the Mediterranean and Pacific islands place this case study into a larger context of island historical ecology.
Jaguars of the Dawn
Spirit Mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer
The Brazilian Spiritualist Christian Order Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn) is the place where the worlds of the living and the spirits merge and the boundaries between lives are regularly crossed. Drawing upon over a decade of extensive fieldwork in temples of the Amanhecer in Brazil and Europe, the author explores how mediums understand their experiences and how they learn to establish relationships with their spirit guides. She sheds light on the ways in which mediumistic development in the Vale do Amanhecer is used for therapeutic purposes and informs notions of body and self, of illness and wellbeing.
The Living Ancestors
Shamanism, Cosmos and Cultural Change among the Yanomami of the Upper Orinoco
This phenomenologically oriented ethnography focuses on experiential aspects of Yanomami shamanism, including shamanistic activities in the context of cultural change. The author interweaves ethnographic material with theoretical components of a holographic principle, or the idea that the “part is equal to the whole,” which is embedded in the nature of the Yanomami macrocosm, human dwelling, multiple-soul components, and shamans’ relationships with embodied spirit-helpers. This book fills an important gap in the regional study of Yanomami people, and, on a broader scale, enriches understanding of this ancient phenomenon by focusing on the consciousness involved in shamanism through firsthand experiential involvement.
Non-Humans in Amerindian South America
Ethnographies of Indigenous Cosmologies, Rituals and Songs
Rivera Andía, J. J. (ed)
Drawing on fieldwork from diverse Amerindian societies whose lives and worlds are undergoing processes of transformation, adaptation, and deterioration, this volume offers new insights into the indigenous constitutions of humanity, personhood, and environment characteristic of the South American highlands and lowlands. The resulting ethnographies – depicting non-human entities emerging in ritual, oral tradition, cosmology, shamanism and music – explore the conditions and effects of unequally ranked life forms, increased extraction of resources, continuous migration to urban centers, and the (usually) forced incorporation of current expressions of modernity into indigenous societies.
On the Nervous Edge of an Impossible Paradise
Affect, Tourism, Belize
There are beastly forces in Belize. Forces that are actively involved in making paradise impossible. On the Nervous Edge of an Impossible Paradise is a collection of seven stories about local lives in the fictional village of Wallaceville. They turn rogue in the face of runaway forces that take the form and figure of a Belize beast-time, which can appear as a comic mishap, social ruin, tragic excess, or wild guesses. Inciting the affective politics of life in the region, this fable of emergence evokes the unnerving uncertainties of life in the tourist state of Belize.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Literary Studies
Ownership and Nurture
Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations
Brightman, M., Fausto, C. & Grotti, V. (eds)
The first book to address the classic anthropological theme of property through the ethnography of Amazonia, Ownership and Nurture sets new and challenging terms for anthropological debates about the region and about property in general. Property and ownership have special significance and carry specific meanings in Amazonia, which has been portrayed as the antithesis of Western, property-based, civilization. Through carefully constructed studies of land ownership, slavery, shamanism, spirit mastery, aesthetics, and intellectual property, this volume demonstrates that property relations are of central importance in Amazonia, and that the ownership of persons plays an especially significant role in native cosmology.
Subject: Anthropology (General)
Power in Practice
The Pragmatic Anthropology of Afro-Brazilian Capoeira
González Varela, S.
Considering the concept of power in capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian ritual art form, Varela describes ethnographically the importance that capoeira leaders (mestres) have in the social configuration of a style called Angola in Bahia, Brazil. He analyzes how individual power is essential for an understanding of the modern history of capoeira, and for the themes of embodiment, play, cosmology, and ritual action. The book also emphasizes the great significance that creativity and aesthetic expression have for capoeira’s practice and performance.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Performance Studies
Legacies of Militarization and Militarism in a Rural Guatemalan Town
Although the Guatemalan Civil War ended more than two decades ago, its bloody legacy continues to resonate even today. In Silenced Communities, author Marcia Esparza offers an ethnographic account of the failed demilitarization of the rural militia in the town of Santo Tomás Chichicastenango following the conflict. Combining insights from postcolonialism, subaltern studies, and theories of internal colonialism, Esparza explores the remarkable resilience of ideologies and practices engendered in the context of the Cold War, demonstrating how the lingering effects of grassroots militarization affect indigenous communities that continue to struggle with inequality and marginalization.
Tourism and Informal Encounters in Cuba
Based on a detailed ethnography, this book explores the promises and expectations of tourism in Cuba, drawing attention to the challenges that tourists and local people face in establishing meaningful connections with each other. Notions of informal encounter and relational idiom illuminate ambiguous experiences of tourism harassment, economic transactions, hospitality, friendship, and festive and sexual relationships. Comparing these various connections, the author shows the potential of touristic encounters to redefine their moral foundations, power dynamics, and implications, offering new insights into how contemporary relationships across difference and inequality are imagined and understood.
Subjects: Anthropology (General) Travel and Tourism
Transborder Media Spaces
Ayuujk Videomaking between Mexico and the US
Transborder Media Spaces offers a new perspective on how media forms like photography, video, radio, television, and the Internet have been appropriated by Mexican indigenous people in the light of transnational migration and ethnopolitical movements. In producing and consuming self-determined media genres, actors in Tamazulapam Mixe and its diaspora community in Los Angeles open up media spaces and seek to forge more equal relations both within Mexico and beyond its borders. It is within these spaces that Ayuujk people carve out their own, at times conflicting, visions of development, modernity, gender, and what it means to be indigenous in the twenty-first century.
Subjects: Media Studies Anthropology (General)
The Ritual Everyday on a Dammed River in Amazonia
In Brazil, where forest meets savanna, new towns, agribusiness and hydroelectricity plants form a patchwork with the indigenous territories. Here, agricultural work, fishing, songs, feasts and exchanges occupy the Enawenê-nawê for eight months of each year, during a season called Yankwa. Vital Diplomacy focuses on this major ceremonial cycle to shed new light on classic Amazonian themes such as kinship, gender, manioc cultivation and cuisine, relations with non-humans and foreigners, and the interplay of myth and practice, exploring how ritual contains and diverts the threat of violence by reconciling antagonistic spirits, coordinating social and gender divides, and channelling foreign relations and resources.