In this first-ever collection of labor anthropology from around the world, the contributors to Uncertain Times assert that traditional labor unions have been co-opted by neoliberal policies of corporate capital and have become service organizations rather than drivers of social movements. The current structure of labor unions facilitates corporations’ need for a stable labor force while reducing their power to prevent outsourcing, subcontracting, and other methods of undercutting worker security and union power. Through case studies from Switzerland, Israel, Argentina, Mexico, the United States, Greece, Sweden,Turkey, Brazil and Spain, the authors demonstrate that this process of neutering unions has been uneven across time and space. They also show that the potential exists for renewed union power based on more vociferous and creative collective action. These firsthand accounts—from activist anthropologists in the trenches as union members and staff, as well as academics analyzing policy, law, worker organizing, and community impact—illustrate the many approaches that workers around the world are taking to reclaim their rights in this ever-shifting labor landscape.

Uncertain Times is the first book to use this crucial comparative, ethnographic approach for understanding the new rules of the global labor struggle and the power workers have to change those rules. The volume will be of great interest to students and scholars of anthropology, sociology of work, and labor studies; labor union leadership; and others interested in developing innovative methods for organizing working people, fomenting class consciousness, and expanding social movements.

Contributors: Alpkan Birelma, Emma Braden, Maria Eugenia de la O, Christopher Kelley, Staffan Löfving, Gadi Nissim, Darcy Pan, Steven Payne, Alicia Reigada, Julia Soul, Manos Spyridakis, Christian Zlolniski

Gambling Debt is a game-changing contribution to the discussion of economic crises and neoliberal financial systems and strategies. Iceland’s 2008 financial collapse was the first case in a series of meltdowns, a warning of danger in the global order. This full-scale anthropology of financialization and the economic crisis broadly discusses this momentous bubble and burst and places it in theoretical, anthropological, and global historical context through descriptions of the complex developments leading to it and the larger social and cultural implications and consequences.

Chapters from anthropologists, sociologists, historians, economists, and key local participants focus on the neoliberal policies—mainly the privatization of banks and fishery resources—that concentrated wealth among a select few, skewed the distribution of capital in a way that Iceland had never experienced before, and plunged the country into a full-scale economic crisis. Gambling Debt significantly raises the level of understanding and debate on the issues relevant to financial crises, painting a portrait of the meltdown from many points of view—from bankers to schoolchildren, from fishers in coastal villages to the urban poor and immigrants, and from artists to philosophers and other intellectuals.

This book is for anyone interested in financial troubles and neoliberal politics as well as students and scholars of anthropology, sociology, economics, philosophy, political science, business, and ethics.

Publication supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

Vilhjálmur Árnason, Ásmundur Ásmundsson, Jón Gunnar Bernburg, James Carrier, Sigurlína Davíðsdóttir, Dimitra Doukas, Níels Einarsson, Einar Mar Guðmundsson, Tinna Grétarsdóttir, Birna Gunnlaugsdóttir, Guðný S. Guðbjörnsdóttir, Pamela Joan Innes, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, Örn D. Jónsson, Hannes Lárusson, Kristín Loftsdóttir, James Maguire, Már Wolfgang Mixa, Evelyn Pinkerton, Hulda Proppé, James G. Rice, Rögnvaldur J. Sæmundsson, Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir, Margaret Willson

Presenting prehistoric, historic, and ethnographic data from Mongolia, China, Iceland, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States, The Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness offers a first step toward examining class as a central issue within anthropology. Contributors to this volume use the methods of historical materialism, cultural ecology, and political ecology to understand the realities of class and how they evolve.

Five central ideas unify the collection: the objective basis for class in different social orders; people's understanding of class in relation to race and gender; the relation of ideologies of class to realities of class; the U.S. managerial middle-class denial of class and emphasis on meritocracy in relation to increasing economic insecurity; and personal responses to economic insecurity and their political implications.

Anthropologists who want to understand the nature and dynamics of culture must also understand the nature and dynamics of class. The Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness addresses the role of the concept of class as an analytical construct in anthropology and how it relates to culture. Although issues of social hierarchy have been studied in anthropology, class has not often been considered as a central element. Yet a better understanding of its role in shaping culture, consciousness, and people's awareness of their social and natural world would in turn lead to better understanding of major trends in social evolution as well as contemporary society. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of anthropology, labor studies, ethnohistory, and sociology.

The fulfilment of a prophetic dream takes a young man from his troubled teenage years in medieval Iceland to his death in a duel with his love rival in a foreign land.
Thorsteinn, son of the prominent Egill Skalla-Grimsson, also of saga fame, dreams two men will fight and die over his daughter, and that she will marry a third man. When his father forbids the headstrong Gunnlaugur from traveling to foreign lands, he takes refuge with Thorsteinn, where he studies law and becomes close to his daughter, Helga the fair. At eighteen, the stubborn and proud Gunnlaugur betroths himself to Helga and arranges with her father for her to wait for him for three years while he is away.
While abroad, Gunnlaugur gets in and out of trouble with various kings and gains a reputation as both a poet and a warrior. With a show of arrogance at the court of the Swedish king, he makes an enemy of another Icelandic poet, Hrafn, who had befriended him.
Having sworn to disgrace Gunnlaugur, Hrafn returns to Iceland to ask for Helga in marriage as the three years she was to wait have passed. Delayed in his travels, Gunnlaugur returns the day of the wedding but can not stop it. Gunnlaugur challenges Hrafn to the last duel ever fought in Iceland, but kinsmen and friends of both prevent the fight. The two travel to Sweden where they meet and fight. Both die as foretold in Thorsteinn's dream.
Dreaming of Gunnlaugur, Helga dies in the arms of her second husband, a third poet, as the dream foretold. There the saga ends.
In addition to the translation of the saga, this book contains an anthropological analysis of the saga and saga writing in medieval Iceland. Beyond relating events, this saga, like others of its genre, is an expression of the totemic system of the primitive society that produced it, a stratified society without the institutions of a state. The analysis of the saga shows its richly textured patterns of opposition and similarity, its complex analogical logic, and its fascinating mirror-image arrangement of events centering around the fatal insults between Gunnlaugur and Hrafn in Sweden.
Since the saga is a product of a totemic society, the authors preserve that dimension in their translation. Rather than trying to smooth over the work to "elevate" it to modern standards of the novel, they preserve the texture of oppositions, similarities, and analogies that make the saga what it is.
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