Home/Field

An online space for anthropological engagements with North America
A project of the Society for the Anthropology of North America
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Author Dialogues

On “Extracting Accountability”: Nazli Azergun in Dialogue with Jessica Smith

In her recent book, Extracting Accountability, Jessica Smith focuses on the experiences of petroleum and mining engineers to answer an important question: How do these professionals, who represent and operationalize capitalism’s extractive logic on a daily basis, reconcile their conflicting loyalties to their managers, shareholders, communities, and their ideals? This interview focuses on some of the most important points in the book, such as the pitfalls of stakeholderism. It also presents Smith’s perspective on the intertwining of biography and ethnography, the politics of engineering education and anthropologists’ relevance in it, as well as green energy transition and the conundrum of creating green jobs.

A/V Essays

¿Somos Mamás, Verdad?: Motherhood as a Recombination of “Home” and “Field”

The week of my daughter’s first birthday party, I learned I was pregnant with our second child. I was preparing for a yearlong ethnographic fieldwork stay in Mexico City, to research the experience of deafness from the perspectives of deaf youth and their families. I quickly re-organized my research timeline to fly home at the midway point of my fieldwork to give birth, and return to Mexico City soon after. Though I did not have a theoretical framing for it at the time, I realize now that this arrangement exemplifies “patchwork ethnography” which draws attention to “how anthropologists have been innovating methods and epistemologies to contend with intimate, personal, political, or material concerns” (Günel et al. 2020). In this essay, I ask: how does being a mother and mothering in the field contribute to my ethnographic enterprise? And: how can reflecting on “motherhood” help identify points of resonance with mothers and children in the field and also disentangle imbalances that persist between researcher and participants?

Author Dialogues

Greening, Browning, and the Myth of Sustainability: A Conversation with Melissa Checker and Brie Berry

In her book, The Sustainability Myth: Environmental Gentrification and the Politics of Justice (2020, NYU Press), Melissa Checker explores the drivers and consequences of environmental gentrification in New York City. Based on ethnographic work with community activists in and beyond Staten Island, Checker traces the process through which sustainability programs and policies lead to “greening” in some (privileged, wealthy) communities and “browning” in others.

Engagements

What Happened in Georgia? On Suburbs and Other Anthropological Blind Spots

On January 6, 2021, as a mob of white Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, voters in Georgia inaugurated a new era by delivering a key victory for Biden and the Democratic Party. While confirming the status of Georgia as a new battleground state, the elections also revealed that this battle is increasingly being fought in the suburbs, particularly in once-Republican, majority-white communities now home to growing numbers of Black, Asian, and Latinx residents. What have we done, as anthropologists, to understand these places and their growing social and political polarization? Here, Elisa Lanari takes a look at the insurgent publics and resurgent white politics of suburban Atlanta by reflecting on ongoing transformations in her fieldsite of Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Author Dialogues

On “Making Global MBAs”: Nazli Azergun in Dialogue with Andrew Orta

In his 2019 book, Making Global MBAs: The Culture of Business and the Business of Culture, Andrew Orta delves into the world of the MBA education—one of the most prestigious of graduate programs in the United States and the world—to show how they engage with and incorporate culture in their professional practice. In revealing how MBAs convert unique cultural specificities into manageable risk factors, Orta also surveys the history of business education and critiques its streamlining disposition towards a complex world and its problems. In this piece, Nazli Azergun converses with Andrew Orta on navigating business settings as an anthropologist, delicacies of conducting ethnographies in organizations, dialogues across sub-fields of anthropology, and the current condition of universities under neoliberal governance regimes.

Author Dialogues

On “Asian America” and Multiracial Solidarity: A Conversation between Jong Bum Kwon and Elizabeth Hanna Rubio

How are transgressive multiracial coalitions built and sustained? What are the affective and epistemological limits of individually-oriented “how-to” anti-racism work? With an ethnographic focus on Black-Asian solidarity work, what impasses in collective identity emerge to beg the question, what is Asian America? Home/Field brought Jong Bum Kwon and Elizabeth Hanna Rubio into conversation to discuss these and more themes, based on Rubio’s recent publication in Journal for the Anthropology of North America.

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