Rethinking a Global Latin America

This post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check for other posts from the conference. #AmAnth17

By Matthew C. Gutmann, co-editor of Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century with Jeffrey Lesser 

When thinking about Latin America, most people focus on the impact of the rest of the world on the region. But what if we thought about it in a radically different way? Lets flip the orientation and ask (and show)—what is the impact of Latin America on the rest of the world?

As scholars in the field, we attempted to make this shift in Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century, providing researchers, instructors, and students the opportunity to see—and share—Latin America in a new light.

What important experiments in democratic citizenship first developed in Latin America and have now been popularized across the globe? How does Latin America figure in a G20 world in which Brazil is the seventh largest economy and Mexico about to break into the top ten?

How have Brazilian Portuguese, all the Latin American Spanishes, and Latin American indigenous languages affected the way people talk, read, and even think in other parts of the world, including Portugal and Spain? What of the Latin American booms heard around the world in literature, telenovelas, music, and film? When we ask about sex workers and tourists and drugs in the region, it’s often even more fruitful to look from Latin America out and not just from the outside in to understand historic, contemporary, and future relationships.

Another with the former president of Chile Ricardo Lagos shows the global significance of Latin American creations from Che Guevara to Truth Commissions. With contributions from academics, activists, a poet, scientists, a movie star, and manga artists, on topics from the Latin American in the Vatican to Brazil’s trade of water in the form of soybeans to China to the pan-Latin food craze sweeping the earth, Global Latin America offers sharp and spicy chapters written for the general reader and classroom adoption.

Che Guevara image on man’s cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.

As editors we were inspired by explaining how and why the image of Che seemed to confront us wherever we went in the world, from a t-shirt on a football pitch in Palestine to the cap of a Chinese matchmaker in Shanghai. Sure, images of the bearded face and beret were often devoid of deep meaning, but there was his image, and we wanted to make sense of it. Trying to understand global Che led us to the larger meanings of global Latin America.

The history of Latin America is more than the Triple C’s of Conquest, Colonialism, and Christianity, the genocide, slavery, and immigration brought to the continent by rulers from Europe and the United States. This volume, like others in the GLOBAL SQUARE series, serves to remind us that regions are not just victims but also global players – and never more than today.


Matthew C. Gutmann is Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI), and Faculty Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.


Taking the Knee

by Niko Besnier and Susan Brownell, co-authors of The Anthropology of Sport: Bodies, Borders, Biopolitics

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd.

Recent headlines about NFL players “taking the knee” during the national anthem to protest racism in the United States remind us just how important sport can be in our contemporary times. Donald Trump’s irate Twitter responses are clear indications that sport, and what happens in and around sport, places politics front and center, no matter how strenuously some insist that sport should only be about fun and entertainment. It is evident from the furor that the athletes’ actions are not just about conflict between powerful, wealthy white male team owners and the black athletes who play for them, but more importantly about the structures of inequality that run deep in the U.S. and are, if anything, becoming more entrenched.

We need anthropologists to help us make sense of all this—and to serve as watchdogs over the burgeoning global sport industry, headed by non-governmental organizations such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee with budgets and political clout that dwarf those of many nations of the world. Anthropology Matters!, the theme of this year’s annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), encourages anthropologists to talk back to the media pundits, disingenuous politicians, and self-assured economists who dominate public discourse.

This is what The Anthropology of Sport: Bodies, Borders, Biopolitics, just out from the University of California Press, aims to do. The product of a collaboration between three senior anthropologists (Niko Besnier, Susan Brownell, and Thomas F. Carter), the book marks a new phase in our understanding of sport, a sphere of human activity that gained attention in the discipline in the late nineteenth century, but that has not fully coalesced until now. At the AAA meetings, a panel on “Did the Olympics Change Rio? Anthropological Contributions to the Public Debate about Olympic Legacies” demonstrates the importance of micro-level ethnographic research in achieving a deeper understanding of headline-grabbing issues, such as the favela pacification program, urban renewal, security and surveillance, Brazilian nationalism, and massive expenditures of taxpayer money on mega-events.

Two Cameroonian soccer players in the front of the disused roadside tavern they share as living quarters with fellow migrant soccer players in rural Poland, winter 2015 (Paweł Banaś)

The Anthropology of Sport highlights how tried-and-true anthropological concepts shed light on the world of sport—particularly the areas that the bright lights focused on star athletes and sports spectacles throw into deep background shadows. Ethnographic approaches to the gift economy, labor migrations, kinship, gender, sexuality, ritual, nationalism, consumption, capital, and precarity all provide new perspectives on sport in all its manifestations, big and small, festive and tragic, global and personal—explaining practices that often make little sense to other observers. While seeming disconnected, the extravagant cost of Olympic Games and the precarious lives of migrant athletes pursuing contracts in professional clubs are in fact enabled by one and the same structure of global capital, which both underwrites sport mega-events and creates the conditions under which increasing numbers of young men (and sometimes women) and their families in places like Fiji, Cameroon, and Kenya are pinning their hopes for better lives on careers with professional sports clubs in the developed world.

The Anthropology of Sport argues that, ultimately, the ethnographic approach to sport is a particularly productive lens through which to understand the workings of social life and contributes toward a better understanding of the challenging world in which we live.


Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He has written extensively on gender, sexuality, migration, economic relations, language, and sport. He is editor-in-chief of American Ethnologist.

 

Susan Brownell is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She is an expert on sports and Olympic Games in China, Olympic history, and world’s fairs. She is the author of Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic.


Documenting the Human Costs of the U.S. Security-State, Part 2

This post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd. #AmAnth17

This year’s theme of “Anthropology Matters!” is a call to action that our authors and the Press are proud to support.

Deborah Boehm
Sarah Horton

Authors Deborah Boehm (Returned) and Sarah Horton (They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fieldsshare their thoughts on Anthropology in Unseen Spaces, sharing thoughts on the fate of Latino immigrants due U.S. policies on policing, detention, and deportation.

Earlier this week, as part of their AAA session on Detained on Trumped-Up Charges: Migrants and the Ascendant U.S. Security-State, they focused on various aspects, including how “[m]assive raids in immigrant neighborhoods and workplaces, the apprehension of DACAmented students—often out of retaliation for their speaking out—and the deportations of long-term residents not previously deemed priorities for ‘removal’ have spread anxiety and panic throughout immigrant communities.”

In Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation, Deborah Boehm shares the social effects that migrant Latinos undergo when they return to their homeland, either by choice or by force:

In a conversation about my research on deportation, a friend from the city of Zacatecas—an urban Zacatecano—made an observation that has stayed with me as I have witnessed and tried to make sense of migrants’ experiences of return and being returned. My friend remarked, almost in passing, that the migrants I work with are “ciudadanos perdidos, ” or lost citizens, and then he repeated a refrain I have often heard in my research with migrants, typically from migrants themselves: “No son de aquí ni de allá  [They are from neither here nor there].” When I asked why he chose this specific word—lost —to describe his fellow citizens, he replied that return migrants are not fully part of either country, excluded from the United States but not entirely Mexican. “Of course, they are my paisanos  [fellow nationals],” he explained, “but their lives are very different from mine. It is difficult to know what will become of them.”

While this sentiment of being “from neither here nor there” has framed my ongoing research with migrant communities, “lost citizens” is a category of alienation that signals a new global order of injustice. We do not all have equal access to citizenship and membership in particular nations. We do not all have the same chances to move across borders. As the world becomes a more connected place for some, the disconnections, barriers, and spaces of exclusion grow for most. This label “lost citizens,” like the many categories explored throughout the book, is shifting and relational. My friend seemed to understand this, identifying with migrants as members of the nation but also recognizing the deep divide of experience that separates them.

So, are deportees, returnees, and their family members in fact “lost citizens”? In the sense that their membership is compromised in the nations in which they live, yes, this is certainly the case. So I wonder if these migrants are lost citizens or rather those who have suffered loss, including a kind of “lost citizenship” or absence of full membership.They have lost, or never had—sometimes even in those nations they consider home—the full right to citizenship. Those affected by return are lost citizens in this sense, or perhaps lost citizens might be more aptly understood as those who lose in an era of global movement. The age of deportation is marked by social injustice and striking inequality as subjects move and do not move—forcibly or not, despite and because of state power—across national boundaries throughout the world.

Read the previous part of Documenting the Human Costs of the U.S. Security-State. And learn about the physical and psychological stress that U.S. immigration policies inflict on Latino migrants from Sarah Horton’s They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields.

 


Congratulations to our 2017 AAA Award Winners!

UC Press is honored to have numerous authors among the award winners at the 2017 American Anthropological Association conference. Please join us in congratulating the following #AmAnth17 award winners.

Jason DeLeon, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail

  • 2017 MacArthur Fellowship presented by the Jonathan D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • 2017 Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharf Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America presented by the Society for the Anthropology of North America

 

  • 2017 Robert B. Textor and Family Book Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology presented by the American Anthropological Association
  • Honorable Mention, 2017 Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharf Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America presented by the Society for the Anthropology of North America

 

  • 2017 Sharon Stephens Prize presented by the American Ethnological Society

 

 

 

  • 2017 Michelle Z. Rosaldo Book Prize presented by the Association for Feminist Anthropology

 

 

 

  • Honorable Mention, 2017 Victor Turner Book Prize presented by the American Anthropological Association

 

 

Angela Stuesse, Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South

  • 2017 C.L.R. James Book Award presented by the Working Class Studies Association
  • 2017 Book Prize Winner presented by the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

 

 

 

Stefan Helmreich, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas

  • 2017 J. I. Staley Prize presented by the Society for Advanced Research

 

 

 

Christiana Giordano, Migrants in Translation: Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy

  • Second Place, 2016 Victor Turner Book Prize presented by the American Anthropological Association

The Town Where the Asphalt Ends

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd. #AmAnth17

By Angela Stuesse, author of Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South

In 2004 I moved to Scott County, Mississippi, where new Latin American immigrants, recruited by the area’s poultry industry, were arriving from across the continent. There I joined a budding coalition of immigrant and civil rights advocates, communities of faith, union leaders, employment justice attorneys, and working people who were grappling with the changes happening in their neighborhoods and workplaces.

For six years I contributed to their efforts to create a workers’ center to support poultry workers in defense of their rights. I also conducted research on how the area’s transformations came about, their relationship to longstanding political economies of race in the South, and their impacts on poultry workers, their communities, and possibilities for workplace justice. A decade later I told this story in my book, Scratching Out a Living.

While I eventually left Mississippi, many of the relationships I built there were deep, rooted in personal commitment and political struggle. This is especially true of the bonds I formed with injured workers. As Coordinator of the Mississippi Poultry Workers’ Center’s Workplace Injury Project, I spent thousands of hours advocating on behalf of injured workers, including 100+ trips to doctors and lawyers in which I served as interpreter and advocate.

Nearly half of those doctor’s visits were with Gaudenico, who lost part of his hand in a gruesome workplace accident when he was just 17 years old. We spent the next year in surgeries and physical therapy together, including countless hours of conversations on the road to and from appointments. He took to wearing a glove to hide his twisted and amputated digits, a practice I couldn’t convince him to shake. When he returned to Veracruz a few years later, at first he called periodically to give me updates on his life back home, but eventually we lost touch. The number I had for him stopped working, and his phone calls ceased.

This semester I have been on research leave in Mexico, and last weekend, while attending the XVIII Encuentro de Pueblos Negros in Veracruz, my young children and I embarked on a journey in search of Gaudenico. I had no idea whether I might find him in his village, living in a nearby city, back in the United States, or even alive, but I’ve long wondered what became of him, and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass us by. Armed with his birth certificate, an old student ID, a handful of photos, and bunches of curiosity, we headed into the mountains of Veracruz.

While inquiring about the best routes and state of the rural dirt roads at our hotel, an employee called her father, a retired long-haul trucker from the area, for guidance. Don Tibursio offered to accompany us on our journey, and we were delighted to have a local guide and native Nahautl speaker on our team. Several hours into our journey, talking to folks in the town where the asphalt ended led us to believe we could reach Gaudenico’s community along a sharp shale road up the mountain in 1-2 hours, as long as we had a spare tire and attempted by day. But nearly to the village, my realization that I had failed to fill the gas tank that morning forced us to turn back.

I felt a flood of disappointment as we searched for gas in the town where the asphalt ended. We had come so far but had been unable to find Gaudenico or his family. Don Tibursio insisted it was too late in the day to make a second attempt. Not to be defeated, after partially filling the tank with a questionable substance using a homemade soda bottle funnel, I started asking who in town might have contact with people in Gaudenico’s village.

We eventually found ourselves in the home of a woman who had married a man from the village. Though skeptical at first, her husband shared by phone that he knew the family. He had seen Gaudenico sometime in the last few years and believed he was living several hours away in the city of Xalapa. Unable to stay, I left a note for Gaudencio, one for his mother, and a copy of my book along with a request that they be delivered. I hoped that one day with the help of kind strangers and technology I might hear from one of them.

Little did I know that my notes would be taken to Gaudencio’s mother in person by someone heading up the mountain that very night! My phone rang early the next morning. The delight in Gaudenico’s voice when I answered matched my own, and he wept as he told me of the time nearly a decade ago that his phone was stolen and all his contacts lost. Our families joyfully met up later that day outside of Xalapa. “I love you like a sister, and I’ll never forget the role you played at such an important time in my life,” he said as he held my hand. “I didn’t do anything,” I replied. “It was what anyone would do when seeing another human being suffer. I’ve missed you.”

What a heartwarming reunion it was. At 30 years old, today Gaudencio is married with an infant daughter. He drives a taxi for a living. He appears happy and healthy, and his disability doesn’t seem to slow him down in the least. Oh, and that glove he used to wear? He proudly boasts that he tossed it as soon as he returned to Mexico. Today we’re all smiling, inside and out.


Angela Stuesse is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her book, Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (SLACA) Book Prize, to be awarded at this week’s American Anthropological Association meeting in Washington, DC. Learn more about Stuesse’s work at www.AngelaStuesse.com.


Visit Us at AAA to Save 40% on New Titles

Attending the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.? No doubt your schedule is already jam packed, but make sure to stop by the UC Press booth (#305) to save 40% on new and bestselling titles in the field. Beforehand, head on over to our conference landing page to see what’ll be on display and take early advantage of our conference discount.

Check Out These AAA Sessions Featuring UC Press Authors:

Wednesday, November 29th:

2:15PM-4:00PM: Politics and ‘The Good Life,’: Negotiating and Making Claims on State Institutions (Alvaro Jarrin)

2:15PM-4:00PM: Mindful Matter (Alaina Lemon)

2:15PM-4:00PM: Detained on Trumped-Up Charges: Migrants and the Ascendant U.S. Security-State (Deborah A. Boehm, Sarah Horton, Angela Steusse)

Thursday, November 30th

8:00AM-9:45AM: The Ethics of Entertaining, Everyday Technologies of Self-Presentation (Alaina Lemon)

Friday, December 1st:

8:00AM-9:45AM: Open and Closed Futures (Jon Bialecki)

Saturday, December 2nd: 

2:00PM-3:45PM: What is ‘analysis’? Between theory, ethnography and method (Eduardo Kohn, Nurit Bird-David)

2:00PM-3:45PM: The Moral Economy of Protest in East Asia (Kevin J. Carrico)

Sunday, December 3rd: 

8:00AM-9:45AM: Did the Olympics Change Rio? Anthropological contributions to the public debate about Olympic legacies (Susan Brownell, Erika Robb Larkins)

10:15AM-12:00PM: How Food Matters in Contested Sovereignties and Resistance (Nir Avieli)


Beyond Racialized Divides: Understanding Africa Today

This guest post is published during the African Studies Association conference in Chicago, occurring November 16 – 18, and prior to the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington, D.C., occurring November 28 – December 3.  

By Dorothy Hodgson, co-editor of Global Africa: Into the Twenty-First Century with Judith Byfield

For decades, the continent of Africa has been imagined as divided into two distinct zones: “sub-Saharan Africa” and “North Africa.” Although these phrases are seemingly about geography, they index more troubling legacies of racialized ideas about the relative superiority and modernity of lighter-skinned “Arabs” in the north over their predominantly “black” neighbors living south of the Sahara. By conceiving of the Sahara desert as a blank space, such noxious notions persist, masking the connections and inequalities between north and south produced by long histories of trade, travel, migration, enslavement, conquest, colonial rule, religious evangelization, and more.

An Interconnected Whole

Global Africa challenges this racialized divide, demonstrating the intellectual and political value of understanding the continent as an interconnected whole. François-Xavier Fauvelle documents the extensive international trade between West African kingdoms and polities in northern Africa and beyond during Africa’s “Global Golden Age” (AD 700-1500). E. Ann McDougall describes the settlements, sites, and support that enabled three very different women to traverse the Sahara centuries later. Zakia Salime explores how contemporary musicians of Raï and Rap in Morocco and Algeria intentionally combine sonic elements from elsewhere to convey their political message of Pan-African solidarity. Other authors examine the circulations of textiles (Victoria Rovine), religious ideas (Cheikh Anta Babou), Pan-Africanism (Hakim Adi), illicit financial flows (Masimba Tafirenyika) and more throughout the continent and beyond.

Africa is an extraordinarily vast and diverse place. Yes, there are regional differences in language, heritage, history, and politics. But to ignore the interconnections among regions, or to reify and reproduce a false belief that the continent is divided by a vast “empty space” into two starkly different halves, obscures the vibrant flows and entanglements of people, ideas, and practices across these areas. As scholars, we have an obligation to confront such false assumptions and racist imaginaries with stories, histories, and other evidence that reflect and represent the continent as a whole.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Read Chapter 1, the Introduction, of Global Africa. And see more titles on African Anthropology and African History. Global Africa is part of the Global Square Series.


Dorothy L. Hodgson is Professor of Anthropology and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate School – New Brunswick at Rutgers University.

Judith A. Byfield is Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Cornell University.


Praying and Preying

by Aparecida Vilaça, author of Praying and Preying: Christianity in Indigenous Amazonia

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

9780520289147In 1986, when I arrived for the first time, the Negro river village, in the Brazilian state of Rondônia, situated between 6 and 20 hours by boat from the city of Guajará-Mirim (depending on outboard motor size and river level), was inhabited by 350 agriculturists, hunters and gatherers with little access to manufactured goods. Although a health worker, a teacher, an agent of the National Indian Foundation and a missionary couple from the New Tribes Mission were also living among them, they seemed to be living a fairly, we could say, traditional life. They told me that they had been Christians throughout the 1970s, but had ‘abandoned God’ at the start of the 1980s. At the time four shamans were active there, curing people attacked by animal spirits and travelling to the subaquatic world where the dead lived.

This situation was transformed at the turn of the century when a revival occurred, accompanied by a new wave of conversions. According to some, the principal reason for the collective conversion was the fear that the world would end because of the USA’s response to the September 11th attacks, an event the Wari’ had been able to watch on the community television. When I arrived in January 2002, I was surprised by the changes. A house had been transformed into a church where various services were held each week. People came up to ask me whether the war had already reached Rio de Janeiro, my home town, and were eager for international news of the conflict. They said that if the end of the world caught them unprepared, still non-Christians, they would go directly to hell where they would spend eternity roasting like game animals.

Continue reading “Praying and Preying”


On Shopping Malls and the Politics of Access

by Arlene Davila, author of El Mall: The Spatial and Class Politics of Shopping Malls in Latin America

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

9780520286856Since the publication of El Mall, I have been asked what turned me to examining shopping malls and shopping cultures in Latin America, a question that is always loaded with significance.  It often assumes that shopping and shopping malls are irrelevant subjects of study for anthropologists and scholars, or that consumer culture is a vain or superfluous topic, or even that Latin Americans are exempt from the dreams and pulls of global consumer culture. I end these conversations thinking that all the talk around globalization, neoliberalism, mediated lives and materiality notwithstanding anthropologists and interdisciplinary scholars have not fully come to terms with the powerful pull of consumption and consumer cultures throughout the world and with the need to fully engage these topics in our research.

In the twenty or so years that I’ve been researching and writing about consumer culture and the political economy of culture I’ve found that cultural studies on these subjects still focuses overwhelmingly on the United States and Europe, while anthropologist are still shy to take on subjects that would compromise the “authenticity” of their anthropological field sites or topics of research.  Why study shopping malls, or fashion, or commercial media when these cultural phenomena seem indistinguishable from our cozy experiences in our very own consumer landscapes?-goes the thinking.  The fact is that I myself was not immune to these concerns when I embarked on this study.  I wrote about shopping malls not because I had purposefully set out to do so, but because I found myself in the “belly of the beast” – sharing my previous work on Puerto Rican consumer culture in a trade organization meeting of the International Council of Shopping Centers in Medellin – invited by a former interviewee.  It was he who felt I needed to write about shopping mall cultures and who despite my warnings that whatever I wrote would be from a critical perspective –opened my eyes to the booming world of shopping malls developers, contractors, pundits and more.  Soon I learned that this impenetrable business that seemed to materialize all the workings of neoliberal capitalism and remained so intimidating in its scope and reach was ripe for analysis.

Those of use who strive to study up and expose the political economy of institutions, industries and how capitalism works know full well that access is not always easy to get.  Corporate culture is all about confidentiality agreements, closed door meetings, proprietary research, and inaccessibly priced meetings and conferences that keep many of us at bay from knocking at the doors of powerful stakeholders of capitalism.  But with access comes responsibility to follow up and crack up the worlds of industry and neoliberal capitalism with fine tuned ethnographic research.  The result is a book that shows the why and how shopping malls are one of the most powerful engines of social transformations in Latin America, shaping how cities are organized and even how local fashionistas define class and identities on their daily lives.  Most humbly, the result is a reminder of the same lesson I learned when writing Latinos Inc. years earlier:  That capitalism is made up of relationships and that studying up is more necessary than ever in these age of rapid neoliberalization.  Once again, the “mundane” yet shining space of consumer culture surpassed my own expectations of what questions could be asked, and what issues were most relevant within this industry, from urban design to the topic of informal economies and even fast fashion.  In all, I’m very glad I heard the call the mall, and just delved in!

When sharing on social media, please be sure to use the #AAA2016 hashtag!


Arlene Dávila is Professor of Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of numerous books, including Barrio Dreams and Latinos Inc..


Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life

by E. Summerson Carr and Michael Lempert, co-editors of Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.

9780520291799When Melville’s narrator, Ishmael, encounters the skeletal remains of a beached whale, he begins to make what he characterizes as “a simple, plain statement” that relays the creature’s enormity. Not even two sentences into his description, Ishmael finds that even a whale must be made big. To do so, Ishmael rattles off scalar descriptors. He starts with various quantifications of the whale, detailing its estimated length, height, and circumference, as well as its mass, both in terms of its fleshy past as well as its skeletal present.

Ishmael’s description also betrays that scaling can never be accomplished through quantification alone. He employs an array of scalar metaphors: the whale is like a Gothic cathedral, it’s as big as a village, one thousand inhabitants could fit within its frame, the whale is the Leviathan. It is only through this intricate interscalar description that Ishmael can be sure—and perhaps not even then that landsmen can properly see the awesome stuff of the seafarer’s world.

Continue reading “Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life”