Exploring Social Entrepreneurship Across Geographical Spaces: A Conversation with Walter Little & Lynne Milgram

In this episode, Ipshita talks to Professors Walter Little and Lynne Milgram about their long-term research on social entrepreneurship. Walt’s work with indigenous peoples in Guatemala and Mexico and Lynne’s focus on women workers in Philippines lay the ground for a rich conversation and help rethink the globally standardized ideas on what constitutes social entrepreneurship. We also discuss the links between social entrepreneurship and ‘development’ and explore the ways in which ethnographic work and economic anthropology help scholars transcend static frameworks of analysis and gain a deeper sense of the distinctive needs, motivations and values that peoples and communities bring to entrepreneurial labor.

Walter E. Little is Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany, with a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studies the social and political economies of Latin American indigenous peoples, particularly in Guatemala, Mexico, and in the Albany, NY region. His multi-sited ethnographic research combines political economy and interpretive perspectives in order to better understand the politics of identity, economic development, cultural heritage and tourism in urban places, and the everyday practices of handicrafts production and marketplace interactions. He is the author of numerous articles, books, and reviews, including Mayas in the Marketplace: Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Identity (2004), which won Best Book of 2005 from the New England Council for Latin American Studies, and Street Economies in the Urban Global South (2013), coedited with Karen Tranberg Hansen and B. Lynne Milgram, which won the Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize. Walt is also the author of Norms and Illegality: Intimate Ethnographies and Politics, co-edited with Cristina Panella (2021).

B. Lynne Milgram is Professor of Anthropology at Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto. Her research on gender and development in the northern Philippines has analyzed the cultural politics of social change with regard to women’s work in microfinance, handicrafts, and in the Philippine-Hong Kong secondhand clothing trade. Milgram’s current SSHRC funded Philippine research investigates transformations of urban public space and issues of informality, extralegality, and social entrepreneurship with regard to street vending, public markets, and food provisioning systems. Additionally drawing on transnational trade network scholarship, recent projects also analyze the northern Philippines’ emergent specialty Arabica coffee industry and artisans’ use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to market their crafts. Milgram has published this research in refereed journal articles and book chapters and in five co-edited volumes, including Economics and Morality: Anthropological Approaches (2009, with Katherine E. Browne), and Street Economies in the Urban Global South (2013, with Karen Tranberg Hansen and Walter E. Little).

Subjectivities of Enterprise: A Conversation with Stefanie Mauksch

In the inaugural episode of the series, Ipshita talks to Dr Stefanie Mauksch about the ways in which economic anthropology and ethnographic research can help us understand the diverse experiences of entrepreneurship. Stefanie discusses her own professional path to studying entrepreneurship and her experiences doing ethnographic work at entrepreneurship events in different geographical and cultural contexts. One of the themes of this conversation is the friction between globally standardized discourses and localized, experiential life-worlds of entrepreneurship that create dynamic, shifting subjectivities among entrepreneurial actors.

Stefanie Mauksch teaches Anthropology at Leipzig University, Germany. She has conducted research on the global social entrepreneurship movement, startup communities and the effects of entrepreneurial initiatives, preferably in the Global South. Her research is largely focused on how entrepreneurship shapes local action in contexts of development, in particular Nepal and Sudan, and in specific social fields, such as meanings and experiences of dis/ability. She publishes her work in both disciplines of Anthropology and Organization Studies.

The Intimacies of Urban Waste Infrastructure: A Conversation with Waqas Butt

Join Cindy for the fourth installment of “Economies of Discard” as she chats with Dr. Waqas Butt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Waqas’ research interests include caste, work and labor, waste, infrastructures, development, and value. Cindy and Waqas discuss his work in Lahore and the Punjab where he explores themes related to property and resources in waste infrastructures. Waqas is the author of “Waste intimacies: Caste and the unevenness of life in urban Pakistan” which appeared recently in American Ethnologist. He is currently working on a book project that explores the ways in which waste workers, who predominantly represent low or non-caste groups, have become essential components of urban life and waste infrastructures.

To read more about Dr. Waqas Butt and his work, please visit his faculty page: https://www.anthropology.utoronto.ca/people/directories/all-faculty/waqas-butt

Capitalist Discard, Durability, and Romani Racialized Labor in the Anthropocene: A Conversation with Elana Resnick

Join Cindy for the third episode in this Spring’s collection, Economies of Waste and Discard. In this Episode Cindy is joined by Dr. Elana Resnick. Elana’s fieldwork among a group of Romani street sweepers in Sofia Bulgaria gave her first hand insight into the racialization of waste labor, as well as how this work has been affected by the post-socialist transition and EU accession. Elana Resnick is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Barbara.

To learn more about Elana’s work, please visit her website: elanaresnick.com

Life and Livability at the Dump: A Conversation with Kathleen Millar

Join Cindy as she continues her exploration into the economic anthropology of waste and discards with Dr. Kathleen Millar. Kathleen is an associate professor of Anthropology at Simon Frasier University and is the author of Reclaiming the Discarded: Life and Labor on Rio’s Garbage Dump which won the Society for Economic Anthropology’s book award in 2020. She is also the co-Editor of The Anthropology of Work Review. Her work explores questions of the human condition that emerge in experience of work, economy and urban life in Latin America.

Dumpster Diving, a Food Sharing Revolution, and Economies of Abjection: A Conversation with David Giles

In the first episode in the series, Cindy Isenhour talks with David Giles, an anthropologist who has long been working with the Food Not Bombs movement in cities like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Boston and Melbourne. In these urban hearts of global capitalism David has scavenged food out of dumpsters and cooked with members to feed the community with food discarded by restaurants, grocers and food distribution facilities. Cindy and David talk about the absurdity of the criminalization of food sharing, David’s thoughts on abjection and about his new book coming out this spring with Duke University Press, A Mass Conspiracy to Feed People: World Class Waste and the Struggle for the Global City.

For more of David’s work, please check out his website.

Violence, Materiality and Adapting to Climate Change: A Conversation with Michael Bollig

In this fourth episode of Mergers & Acquisitions’ inaugural series on Economic Anthropology’s symposium issue on climate change, Aneil interviews Michael Bollig. Economic anthropology for Michael has always been closely linked with political ecology, both in his PhD work on violence in Northern Kenya and current research on large scale conservation projects in Namibia. They discuss Michael’s research, and highlight how economic anthropology allows individual and personal logics to be connected to macroeconomic systems. Thus, knowing political ecology but seeing things at the actor level is a great strength of economic anthropology. Michael and Aneil reflect on the effects of large scale conservation and what it means that climate change adaptation funds are set to overtake development funds across Africa. They end with a discussion on finding hope in humanity’s history of adapting to dramatic environmental change, how anthropologists can work in teams and across disciplines, as well as ways anthropologists can present alternative solutions to current macro scale problems such as climate change.
Continue reading

Anthropological Insights To Help Avert Systemic Collapse: A Conversation With Thomas Reuter

In this third episode of Mergers & Acquisitions’ series on economic anthropology and climate change, Aneil interviews Thomas Reuter. Aneil and Thomas start their conversation with a reflection on economic anthropology as a critique of mainstream economics which through comparative study opens up alternative forms of economics. In responding to climate change, Thomas reflects on how we can use economic anthropology to give us an awareness that allows us to step back to see how current mainstream economic systems that dominate globally cause and further climate change.
Continue reading

Economic Anthropology in Global Climate Change Policy: A Conversation with Pamela McElwee

Pam and Aneil dive into how her long-term fieldwork and study of forest policy and management in Vietnam informs and shapes Pam’s professional work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We discuss how to bring anthropological insights into the world of global climate change policy, how to navigate critical approaches and contributions to consensus knowledge, collaborating across disciplines and in teams. We also reflect on the meanings of equity, value, and justice in policy and market-based solutions as well as on how economic anthropologists can work to make sense of, change and inform important policy models.
Continue reading

How Ancient Landscapes Can Help Us Respond to Climate Change: A Conversation with Vernon Scarborough

Aneil and Vern discuss economic anthropology, archaeological relevance to current climate change concerns, making linkages between past and present, sustainability, interactions between ancient people and their environments, and what we can learn from them, population dispersion, inequality, interdisciplinary decision-making, laughter, and the value of taking the long view.
Continue reading