Each quarter, Mergers and Acquisitions will feature a specific theme with relevance to economic anthropology, curated by a guest editor. The podcast will explore each theme with guests from multiple disciplines and geographies. Our first collection ran in 2021-2022, beginning with Aneil Tripathy’s thematic on climate change. Cindy Isenhour and her guests focused on the economics of waste and discards. Ipshita Ghosh drew upon her own work on entrepreneurship to focus on enterprise. Rounding out the first set of thematic series, Kelly McKowen featured discussions about unemployment, and Jenny Huberman curated a collection on digital capitalism.
The Society for Economic Anthropology is excited to announce our second collection, hosted by a new set of guest editors! Please listen and subscribe!
Season2 Editorial Team:
- Economic Anthropology, Otherwise (January – March)
How might economic anthropology be practiced in innovative, publicly engaged and politically relevant ways?
This series examines the myriad ways in which economic anthropologists have brought insights from economic anthropology to broader publics, variously defined. It asks, how are anthropologists bringing their training to new realms of practice, activism, and public engagement? In turn, what does engagement with these spaces bring to the anthropology of economic life? As more anthropologists work outside of academia and those within the academy deploy new tools and avenues through which to do research, present findings, and contribute to wider public debates, this series asks what public, applied, and activist economic anthropology means and looks like in a moment of deep class, gender, and racial inequality and a crisis in higher education. Episodes will cover themes such as doctoral training, public scholarship, innovating with modes of storytelling, and the value of economic anthropology in these turbulent times.
Tanya Matthan is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science. She has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Drawing from critical agrarian studies, political ecology, and the anthropology of finance, her current book project examines the social life of agrarian risk in rural central India.
- Ethnographies of White-collar Workers in East Asia (April – June)
This series, “ethnographies of white-collar workers in East Asia,” supported by the New Media Lab at the Department of Anthropology at Sun Yat-sen University, is composed of three episodes, where Xinyan Peng interviews three anthropologists who have conducted research on the work and life of white-collar workers in East Asia. Two episodes delve deep into the physical space, historical context, social form, and cultural meaning of work among management consultants in China and corporate professionals in South Korea. One episode about Japan will take a more holistic perspective to interrogate the intersection between political economy and personal life, more specifically labor and intimacy. Altogether, this series hopes to further our understanding on the political economy of several East Asian societies, as well as the everyday work and life of white-collar workers in this part of the world.
Xinyan Peng received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Virginia, and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Sun Yat-sen University based in Guangzhou, China.
- The Energy Permacrisis (July – Sept)
Since the 2008 oil price spike, energy crises –previously considered a problem of the Global
South –have become more frequent and widespread. The European debt crisis and climate
disasters like Hurricane María in Puerto Rico and drought/wildfire-related blackouts in
California showed the fragility of electric systems, and the ways that loss of power is often tied
to other forms of powerlessness — from structural inequalities to racism and longstanding
colonial dependencies. Energy poverty became a form of debt-related austerity in southern
Europe and Puerto Rico. Most recently, high fuel inflation has plagued the globe since the
(post)-pandemic economic opening of late 2021, only to be exacerbated by the Russian invasion
of Ukraine in early 2022 – a situation that created a global energy crisis – life-threatening for
Ukrainians while creating suffering and hardship for millions of poor and middle-class
Europeans who have counted on access to electricity and reliable heating and cooling for
decades. The combination of fossil fuel price inflation, high interest rates and fertilizer and
grain shortages are also creating conditions for famine in many low-income countries. This
podcast series will explore the causes and impacts of contemporary energy crises as well as
short and long-term solutions in the context of struggles to elevate energy justice reforms in
the context of the global transition toward more renewable sources of energy.
Sandy Smith-Nonini is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an environmental advocate with CommunEcos, a non-profit in Durham, NC.
- Exploring Assumptions About the “Economic” (Oct – Dec)
William F. Stafford, Jr.
This series explores empirical sites and theoretical interventions for rethinking the idea of the economic as a methodological point of departure in the practice and future of “economic” anthropology. Alongside work which seeks to typologise old and new forms of economic organisation (service economies, platform economies, affective economies) or to establish multiple genealogies of the economy as epistemological object (real economy, emerging economies, national economies), this series engages scholars working across disciplines exploring the shape, limits, and nature of the “economic” as a methodological orientation. When does debt become economic? How does value function as a semiotic of sovereignty? Why does wealth become a form of political power? How do materials mediate forms of transaction? These and other questions and their classical and contemporary engagements within anthropology and beyond will form the basis of this series, in order to open up spaces of ambiguity and contingency against a reification of the “economic” as such.
William F. Stafford, Jr. is currently an independent researcher and research affiliate of the Ethnography Lab at the University of Toronto. He was a postdoctoral fellow in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga and holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and studied for the MPhil in Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. His current work examines provincializing discourses, practices, and tactics in relation to “platformisation” in relation to device architecture and contextual embedding, new political theologies of identification as a form and format of governance, and the role of “forensic” imaginations in the deployment of digital technologies to mediate social encounters.
- Ipshita Ghosh (Enterprise)
Ipshita is a doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department at Syracuse University in New York. Her research focuses on entrepreneurs and startup spaces in India and the US, particularly the intersections of development, humanitarianism and ideas of enterprise.
- Jenny Huberman (Digital Technologies and Capitalism)
Jenny is an associate professor of anthropology in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Sociology. Her research interests are broad but here, she will be discussing issues surrounding capitalism in a digital age.
- Cindy Isenhour (Economies of Waste and Discard)
Cindy is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine. With expertise in economic and environmental anthropology, Cindy is specifically interested in the materials economy (production-consumption-disposal systems), discard studies, environmental justice, environmental policy and economic governance. She is also the current president of the Society for Economic Anthropology.
- Kelly McKowen (Unemployment)
Kelly is an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas. His research and teaching interests include capitalism, the state, cash transfers, work, value, morality, ethnography, and contemporary Europe (particularly the Nordic countries).
- Aneil Tripathy (Climate Change)
Aneil recently defended his dissertation on economic environmentalism, and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Bologna in Italy. His research interests include economic, urban, and environmental anthropology, transportation, and the anthropology of finance and development.
Our Season 1 editorial team members were: