Category Archives: Anthropology

Anthropology for Kids

Some friends and I are working on a series of books titled Anthropology for Kids. Each book will contain different ways of relating to a major human question – what Dostoevsky called “cursed questions” – such as death, family, love, state, money, war and so on. The books will contain and expatiate on, in very […]

One research I’d love to do

Ethnographic research with African traders and migrants in China. Research appetite adequately whetted by: Ghanaian merchant Ben Owusu-Achiaw said many of the African companies he works with have moved away from simple import-export operations because of competition from Chinese merchants. “Go to Makola Market,” he said, referring to the biggest trading center in Accra. “Chinese traders have all the best stores.” […]

Moving ‘White Man’s Deads’ is no second hand business

I wrote this for Chimurenga Chronic a while ago: Since the 1970s, the importation of second-hand clothing has been banned in Nigeria. People give different reasons for the policy. An official of Nigerian Customs told me the practice was banned because they are dirty clothes picked from the streets of Europe, something unfit for Nigerians […]

Cynical about this whole Big Data thing?

You’re not alone. The abstract of a journal article by danah boyd and Kate Crawford: The era of Big Data has begun. Computer scientists, physicists, economists, mathematicians, political scientists, bio-informaticists, sociologists, and other scholars are clamoring for access to the massive quantities of information produced by and about people, things, and their interactions. Diverse groups […]

Delivering Development: Lessons from Globalization’s Shoreline

I review Edward R. Carr’s book for SAIS Review. An excerpt: Underlying typical research is the assumption that a more intense integration into the global market economy is the solution to development problems, and that GDP growth brings an improvement in the well-being of a country’s citizens. Most existing development indicators have these same assumptions […]

On the “informal economy”

From a WSJ review of Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy: Mr. Neuwirth introduces us to a woman named Jandira who for a decade has peddled coffee and homemade cakes to the unlicensed vendors at São Paulo’s early-morning wholesale market for pirated movies. Her street-corner business, she proudly tells him, has enabled […]

On the case of disappearing penises

A couple of weekends ago we hosted a friend who had just returned from Nigeria. She mentioned that penises were currently being ‘disappeared’ in the country. We smiled, we laughed, and I told the story of how I first learnt about disappearing penises. Like a good, self-respecting, PhD-holding anthropologist, I concluded by insisting that I […]

An anthropological study of bankers

Joris Luyendijk, Dutch anthropologist and journalist, is currently blogging an anthropological study of bankers he’s doing in the City of London for Guardian. From the introduction to the blog: It is quite a change for me, exploring bankers. I used to do anthropological fieldwork among students in the slums of Cairo, then worked as a […]