This volume is an exploration of the ways in which political economy as a mode of analysis moves anthropology toward a vital, politically engaged form of scholarship. It advances the understanding of the struggles of ordinary people in the face of capitalist change. In the current economic moment when such changes are tumultuous and the instabilities of capitalism are starkly revealed, this book responds to the urgent need for theoretical and methodological approaches for understanding the forces that shape our contemporary world. Through ethnographic investigations of the quotidian, and through the thematic of politics, history and livelihoods, which distinguish Marxist political economy in the field of anthropology, the authors here reveal the increasing complexity of everyday lives. Using examples derived from fieldwork carried out across diverse geographical locations, the authors pay particular attention to historical conditions shaping the peoples’ life trajectories. In so doing the authors engage critically, and with differing emphases, with political economy and Marxism as a mode of inquiry. This book illustrates the productive tension between observations emerging from the field and theoretical debates that is generated by anthropological ethnography.
1. Introduction: Confronting Anthropology: The Critical Enquiry of Capitalism Pauline Gardiner Barber, Belinda Leach and Winnie Lem Part I: Politics 2. Making Connections: The Politics of Intellectual Labor in Colombia Leslie Gill 3. Security Anthropology and Northern Morazán, El Salvador: Confronting the Present There and Elsewhere Leigh Binford 4. Effective Politics: Band Elections and Decision Making in a Northern Onario Anishnaabek Community Krystyna Sieciechowicz 5. The Soviet Revenge: How the Unrecognized Soviet-Style Mechanisms of Contemporary Finance Capitalism Cause Social Crisis and Catastrophe in the West Don Kalb and Oane Visser Part II: Histories 6. To Die in the Silence of History: Tuberculosis Epidemics and Yup’ik Peoples of Southwestern Alaska Linda Green 7. Not the Same Old Stories: Labor Anthropology, Vulnerabilities and Solidarity Struggles Belinda Leach 8. Native Livelihoods and Capital Punishment in the Carolinas and Labrador Gerald Sider 9. "They Say We Aren’t From Around Here": The Production of Culture Among a Displaced People Gastón Gordillo Part III: Livelihoods 10. Global Connections and Disconnections: Space and Labour in Mumbai’s Slums Judith Whitehead 11. Ghostly Figures Outside the Domain of Political Economy: Class Analysis and the Invisiblized Livelihoods of an Andean Export Zone Christopher Krupa 12. Humanitarian to Livelihood Approaches: A View from the Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya Wenona Giles 13. Gender Mainstreaming and Market Fundamentalism in Rural Yucatán, Mexico Marie France Labrecque 14. Alternatives to Expanded Accumulation and the Anthropological Imagination: Turning Necessity into a Challenge to Capitalism? Susana Narotzky 15. Afterword: In Defence of Historical Realist Anthropology Gavin Smith