Tag Archives: Anthropology

The Truth Behind Migrant Workers: an Anthropologist’s Perspsective

Ioulia FentonBOOK REVIEW

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Workers in the United StatesUniversity of California Press

This week, INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton published a book review on the popular anthropology blog PopAnth of a gripping new anthropological book entitled Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies:

As I began my journey to becoming an anthropologist, one of the first pieces of wisdom shared with me by a professor was: “Be prepared, because you will spend a lot of time explaining what it is that you do.” And this has generally been the case as most people struggle to visualize the daily life of an anthropologist. While some have a vague idea that anthropology is an academic discipline requiring fieldwork, most fall back on popular stereotypes presented in the media: “So, are you basically like Indiana Jones?” a business student asked me.

While this kind of generalisation may upset some anthropologists, it does reveal a certain basic truth: anthropologists do have a special sense of adventure for venturing into the unknown, facing the feared, and discovering treasures of knowledge to bring to the world.

However, most anthropologists would stop short of putting themselves in mortal danger, except for the hardy few who would halt at nothing to get to their truths. Seth Holmes, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Public Health at University of California Berkeley, is one such Indiana Jones type and his latest book “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States” is a gripping tail of danger, social oppression, struggle, and resistance. Read More »

INESAD News: Small town parades, chocolate medals and washing up

Development RoastIn an article recently published by popular anthropology blog ‘PopAnth‘, INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton explores the importance of rituals and ceremonies in human society:

“But we agreed that ceremony and ritual are so foolish,” said Yankel to his daughter Brod in Jonathan Safran’s Everything is Illuminated as she took her place as the Float Queen in their town’s annual parade.

“But we also agreed that they are foolish only to those on the outside. I’m the centre of this one,” she replied.

Brod’s answer is a perfect illustration of the enjoyment and meaning that human beings extract from rituals. Anthropologists see rituals as actions performed mainly for their ceremonial value. In other words, it is what they represent that matters and not necessarily what they physically are. In many cases, rituals satisfy our need to be included by others since partaking in community rites inspires feelings of belonging and acceptance. We flock to support national teams at the Olympics, put on masks at Halloween and get very merry on Christmas; all activities that purposefully socialise us into our particular communities, cultures and even nations. Read More »

Is it Me or is Communism Everywhere?

Ah, the sea of red that must be flooding your imagination: images of red flags intercepted by golden stars, shining hammers, crossing sickles, mixed in with flashes of Mao, Stalin, Che, Castro, bread queues and cold wars. Communism has become a hugely loaded word, most widely associated with political ideologies and regimes that we (UK, Europe, US and beyond) deem to be communist countries of Russia, China and Cuba.

Yet, as Anthropologist David Graeber points out in his recent book Debt: The First 5,000 years*, even the leaders and ruling parties of these nations never actually called their arrangements communist. Rather, they see themselves as socialist, with communism representing a distant, utopian, stateless ideal. Read More »


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