Management Consultants in China: A Conversation with Kimberly Chong

In this episode, Xinyan Peng interviews Kimberly Chong about her book Best Practice: Management Consulting and the Ethics of Financialization in China. Dr. Chong speaks about how management consulting emerges as a crucial site for considering how corporate organization, employee performance, business ethics, and labor have been transformed under financialization. Effective management consultants, Dr. Chong finds, incorporate local workplace norms and assert their expertise in the particular terms of local culture and society, while at the same time framing their work in terms of global “best practices.” Providing insight into how global management consultancies refashion Chinese state-owned enterprises in the reform era, Dr. Chong explains both the dynamic, fragmented character of financialization, and how ‘global’ management consultants perform their expertise in the particular terms of China’s national project of modernization.

Bogdanich, Walt, and Michael Forsythe. (2022). When McKinsey comes to town: The hidden influence of the world’s most powerful consulting firm. Doubleday.

Boyer, Dominic, and George E. Marcus. (2021). Collaborative anthropology today: A Collection of Exceptions. Cornell University Press.

McDonald, D. (2014). The firm: The story of McKinsey and its secret influence on American business. Simon & Schuster.

Ortner, S. B. (2016). “Dark anthropology and its others: Theory since the eighties.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 6(1), 47-73.

Host: Xinyan Peng
Guest: Dr. Kimberly Chong
Research Assistant: Wenzhao Chen
Audio Editor: Seyma Kabaoglu

Navigating the Corporate Paradox: A Conversation with Dr. Mike Prentice

In this episode, Xinyan Peng interviews Dr. Mike Prentice, who is currently a Lecturer in Korean Studies at the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. Dr. Prentice has been trained as a linguistic and cultural anthropologist, and his research broadly focuses on genres and technologies of communication, organizations and corporations, and work and labor cultures in contemporary South Korea. Dr. Prentice’s book Supercorporate: Distinction and Participation in Post-Hierarchy South Korea, examines a central tension in visions of big corporate life in 21st-century South Korea: should corporations be sites of fair distinction or equal participation? As South Korea distances itself from images and figures of a hierarchical past, Dr. Prentice argues that the drive to redefine the meaning of corporate labor echoes a central ambiguity around corporate labor today.

03:32 The Study of Supercorporate
08:43 Hierarchy and Distinction
19:31 Powerpoint Cultures
25:10 Infrastructures of Distinction
34:50 Methodology of Corporate Fieldwork
47:57 Socialization, Shareholder Meetings, and Golf


Irvine, J. T. (1989). “When talk isn’t cheap: Language and political economy.” American ethnologist, 16(2), 248-267.

Janelli, R. L., & Yim, D. (1995). Making capitalism: The social and cultural construction of a South Korean conglomerate. Stanford University Press.

Host: Xinyan Peng
Guest: Dr. Mike Prentice
Research Assistant: Wenzhao Chen
Audio Editor: Seyma Kabaoglu

Feminist Economic Anthropology meets the Multiverse: A conversation with Dr. Caroline Schuster

In this episode, Tanya Matthan speaks with Dr. Caroline Schuster about her research on themes of finance, gender, and development in Paraguay. Dr. Schuster elaborates on the surprising intersections between speculative fiction, feminist anthropology, and graphic novels. In particular, we discuss the inspiration for her forthcoming collaborative graphic ethnography on weather insurance and the challenges and possibilities of building a more accessible and engaged economic anthropology through the medium of comics.

Dr. Caroline Schuster is Associate Professor at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology; as well as Co-Director of the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies at the Australian National University. Dr. Schuster’s research interests include value, credit and debt, development policy and NGOs, finance and climate change, gender and kinship with a regional focus on Latin America. Her first book, Social Collateral: women and microfinance in Paraguay’s smuggling economy (University of California Press, 2015) is an ethnographic account of microcredit and collective indebtedness in Paraguay’s triple-frontier with Argentina and Brazil. Her forthcoming book is a graphic novel titled Forecasts: A story of weather and finance at the edge of disaster, along with the illustrators Enrique Bernardou and David Bueno. Her work has been published in a number of journals, including Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, and Development and Change, to name a few.

Outside/Alongside the Academy: A conversation with Dr. Taylor Nelms

In this podcast, Tanya Matthan speaks with Dr. Taylor Nelms about his research within and outside the academy. In particular, we discuss his ongoing research on and with credit unions, and its relationship to his disciplinary training as an economic anthropologist. Dr. Nelms shares his insights on mentorship, graduate school curricula, and the futility of insider/outsider distinctions vis-a-vis the contemporary academy.

Dr. Taylor C. Nelms is an anthropologist and ethnographer with fifteen years of experience studying money, technology, and banking in the United States, Latin America, and around the world. He is currently the Senior Director of Research at the Filene Research Institute, an independent, non-profit think tank focused on consumer and cooperative finance, especially credit unions. At Filene, Taylor manages a team of researchers and a portfolio of partnerships with leading scholars to pursue research that explores people’s changing economic lives and the business of financial services. Before joining Filene, Taylor worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of California, Irvine, where he received his PhD in Anthropology. He also holds degrees from the University of Cambridge and Ohio State University.

Anthropologist “at Home”: A Conversation with Dr. Tami Navarro

In this podcast, Tanya Matthan speaks with Tami Navarro about her research on financialization, development, and racial capitalism in the US Virgin Islands. Dr. Navarro discusses her positionality as an ‘insider’ shapes her work on the economic and social life in the Caribbean which ranges from more traditional academic publishing to co-hosting a podcast on community, storytelling, and diasporic Black feminism. Their conversation addresses the challenges of writing home, working in the neoliberal academy and engaging diverse audiences as well as the value of anthropological lens in these turbulent times.

A cultural anthropologist, Dr. Tami Navarro is Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies at Drew University. She is a founding member of the Virgin Islands Studies Collective (VISCO) and a member of the Editorial Board for the journal Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism. Dr. Navarro is co-host of the podcast, “Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean” and the Co-director of the Transnational Black Feminisms working group at Columbia University. She is the author of Virgin Capital: Race, Gender, and Financialization in the US Virgin Islands (SUNY Press 2021) which has been recognized by the Association for Feminist Anthropology and the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.

What is Economic Anthropology? with Heangjin Park

In this recording from the Society for Economic Anthropology’s 2022 annual conference in Copenhagen, Aneil Tripathy asks economic anthropologist Heangjin Park, assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University, what brought him to economic anthropology. Heangjin was first drawn to economics when he learned about supply and demand as a fourth grader in elementary school. However, in a college economics class he came to doubt neoclassical economic interpretations about demand. He found refuge in economic anthropology, with concepts that highlight interconnection such as the gift economy and social takes on economics

What is Economic Anthropology? with Morten Sørensen Thaning

In this recording from the Society for Economic Anthropology’s 2022 annual conference in Copenhagen, Aneil Tripathy asks conference organizer and philosopher, Morten Sørensen Thaning, Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School, what economic anthropology means to him. The value of economic anthropology for Morten lies in the limits of philosophy. Anthropologists can push philosophers past pre given universals, and our research and writing help refine concepts and ideas. Morten values much work in economic anthropologists as case studies that challenge and refine key concepts useful for understanding our world and activity that is associated with economics.

What is Economic Anthropology? with Matthew Archer

In this recording from the Society for Economic Anthropology’s 2022 annual conference in Copenhagen, Aneil asks conference organizer Matthew Archer, Assistant Professor in Sustainability at the University of York, what economic anthropology means to him. Matthew outlines how he moved at the beginning of his PhD from an economics track to economic anthropology. An early mentor, Karen Hébert, told him that economics is full of assumptions, and anthropology is very good at questioning these assumptions. Matthew describes a moment in his masters program in environmental economics when he realized that the prices used in economics are deeply flawed. In his subsequent research on tea supply chains and sustainable finance, Matthew continues to question data driven sustainability solutions, to try to imagine and support alternative approaches.

What is Economic Anthropology? with Cindy Isenhour

In this recording from the Society for Economic Anthropology’s 2022 annual conference in Copenhagen, Aneil asks Cindy Isenhour, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change at the University of Maine, what economic anthropology means to her. Cindy gives both a personal and an academic response to the question.

Her personal response charts her journey from graduate school to becoming a professor and economic anthropologist, which was guided by welcoming and supportive mentors in the Society for Economic Anthropology. Cindy’s academic response emphasizes that economic anthropology allows researchers to focus on movement. Much of economic anthropology centers on how ideas, people and things are exchanged and move from place to place and this allows us to understand culture change and societal shifts.

What is Economic Anthropology? with Brie Berry

Aneil’s second recording from the Society for Economic Anthropology’s 2022 annual conference in Copenhagen is with Brie Berry, an economic and environmental anthropologist at the University of Maine’s Center for Sustainability Solutions. Brie charts her career journey towards economic anthropology, and how the sub-discipline informs her research on the circular economy. For Brie, economic anthropology allows her to make sense of the complex relationships between people and stuff, and how they create livelihoods and lives that achieve wellbeing. Economic anthropology allows Brie to make sense of social and environmental values that traditional economics can ignore.