The Routledge Handbook of the Anthropology of Labor  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of the Anthropology of Labor

ISBN 9780367745509
Published June 1, 2022 by Routledge
452 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook of the Anthropology of Labor offers a cross-cultural examination of labor around the world and presents the breadth of a growing and vital subfield of anthropology.

As we enter a new crisis-ridden age, some laboring people are protected, while others face impoverishment and death, as they work in unsafe conditions, migrate to gain livelihoods, languish in the unwaged sector, and become targets of law enforcement. The contributions to this volume address questions surrounding the categorization and visibility of work, the relationship of labor to the state, and how divisions of labor map onto racial, gendered, sexual, and national inequalities. In addition to the emotional dimensions and subjectivities of labor, the book also examines how laborers can articulate common experiences and identities, build organizational forms, and claim power together.

Bringing together the work of an impressive group of international scholars, this Handbook is essential for anthropologists with an interest in labor and political economy, as well as useful for scholars and students in related fields such as sociology and geography.

Table of Contents


Divisions of labor 1

1 To have a life: labor reproduction, value, and negative value

Susana Narotzky

2 The many workers of capitalism

Aviva Chomsky

3 Labour, property and persons: refl ections from Papua New Guinea

Keir Martin

4 Labor and merchant capitalism in Myanmar and Thailand

Stephen Campbell

5 Between the labor theory of value and the value theory of labor: a

program note

Don Kalb

6 Social reproduction and the heterogeneity of the population as labour

Gavin Smith

7 Labor in the time of COVID- 19 (with apologies toGabriel García Márquez)

Andrew Herod


Organizing, mobilizing, and resisting

8 Labour organisation: ‘traditional’ trade unions and beyond

Sian Lazar

9 Class analysis across the “Capitalist/ Communist” divide: practicing the

anthropology of labor in Kerala and Cuba

Luisa Steur

10 New forms of labor and resistance in the era of fi nancialization

Ida Susser

11 International unions as a sphere of working- class (re)organization:

anthropological insights into Latin American steel workers

Julia Soul

12 Working- class, political organization, and popular economy in Argentina

María Inés Fernández Álvarez

13 Factory takeovers for production under self- management: three

examples from Europe

Dario Azzellini

14 Laboring for whiteness: the rise of Trumpism and what that tells us

about racial and gendered capitalism in the United States

Jeff Maskovsky and Julian Aron Ross

15 Food, labor, and political struggle

Steve Striffl er


Workplaces, non- places, and labor regimes

16 Working the supply chain: towards an anthropology of

maritime logistics

Elisabeth Schober

17 Space– time compression: the workplace regime of transnational

capitalist agriculture in northern Mexico

Christian Zlolniski

18 Tea in troubled times: labour in Indian postcolonial plantations

Jayaseelan Raj

19 Two workplaces and a revolution: labor in brick kilns and food

factories in western lowland Nepal

Michael Hoff mann

20 Freedom at work inside and outside the gig economy

Deepa Das Acevedo

21 In the Romanian bubble of outsourced creativity

Oana Mateescu


Migrant labor

22 Border walls and passages: eff ects on labor exploitation

Josiah Heyman

23 The unmaking of Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers in the 1970s

Ismael García Colón

24 Contract migrant farmworkers in North America: “free” to

be “unfree”

Leigh Binford

25 Migration, “aff ective” labour and capitalist reproduction

Winnie Lem

26 Going global: Philippine migrant encounters with mobile capital

Pauline Gardiner Barber

27 Social justice writing and photography: the reality check

and beyond

David Bacon and John W. McKerley


Aff ect, values, and subjectivity of labor

28 A strike to remember: ethnographic refl ections on the conditions of

possibility for labor resistance in the US heartland

Chandana Mathur

29 ‘We are supposed to be the middle class’: intra- personal responsibilities,

hierarchical development projects and union mobilisation on Zambia’s


Thomas McNamara and James Musonda

30 Technologies of transformation

Andrew Sanchez

31 Beyond birthing: the labor(s) of doulas and Black birth workers

D á na- Ain Davis

32 Class and labor organization in building ships and dreams

Manos Spyridakis

33 Unruly workers and laborless landscapes: the role of marginal places

and redundant people in energy transitions

Jaume Franquesa

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Sharryn Kasmir is Professor of Anthropology at Hofstra University, USA. Lesley Gill is Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, USA.