The work done by contributors to Fieldwork Is Not What It Used to Be articulates, at the strategic point of career-making research, features of this transformation in progress. Setting aside traditional anxieties about ethnographic authority, the authors revisit fieldwork with fresh initiative. In search of better understandings of the contemporary research process itself, they assess the current terms of the engagement of fieldworkers with their subjects, address the constructive, open-ended forms by which the conclusions of fieldwork might take shape, and offer an accurate and useful description of what it means to become—and to be—an anthropologist today.
Contributors: Lisa Breglia, George Mason University; Jae A. Chung, Aalen University; James D. Faubion, Rice University; Michael M. J. Fischer, MIT; Kim Fortun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Jennifer A. Hamilton, Hampshire College; Christopher M. Kelty, UCLA; George E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine; Nahal Naficy, Rice University; Kristin Peterson, University of California, Irvine; Deepa S. Reddy, University of Houston-Clear Lake
James D. Faubion is Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and the author of books including The Shadows and Lights of Waco. George E. Marcus is Chancellor's Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine; coauthor with Fernando Mascarenhas of Ocasião: The Marquis and the Anthropologist, a Collaboration; and the author of books including Ethnography through Thick and Thin.
Fischer is particularly concerned with cultural anthropology’s interactions with science studies, and throughout the book he investigates how emerging knowledge formations in molecular biology, environmental studies, computer science, and bioengineering are transforming some of anthropology’s key concepts including nature, culture, personhood, and the body. In an essay on culture, he uses the science studies paradigm of “experimental systems” to consider how the social scientific notion of culture has evolved as an analytical tool since the nineteenth century. Charting anthropology’s role in understanding and analyzing the production of knowledge within the sciences since the 1990s, he highlights anthropology’s aptitude for tracing the transnational collaborations and multisited networks that constitute contemporary scientific practice. Fischer investigates changing ideas about cultural inscription on the human body in a world where genetic engineering, robotics, and cybernetics are constantly redefining our understanding of biology. In the final essay, Fischer turns to Kant’s philosophical anthropology to reassess the object of study for contemporary anthropology and to reassert the field’s primacy for answering the largest questions about human beings, societies, culture, and our interactions with the world around us. In Anthropological Futures, Fischer continues to advance what Clifford Geertz, in reviewing Fischer’s earlier book Emergent Forms of Life and the Anthropological Voice, called “a broad new agenda for cultural description and political critique.”
Both Rabinow and Marcus participated in the milestone collection Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Published in 1986, Writing Culture catalyzed a reassessment of how ethnographers encountered, studied, and wrote about their subjects. In the opening conversations of Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, Rabinow and Marcus take stock of anthropology’s recent past by discussing the intellectual scene in which Writing Culture intervened, the book’s contributions, and its conceptual limitations. Considering how the field has developed since the publication of that volume, they address topics including ethnography’s self-reflexive turn, scholars’ increased focus on questions of identity, the Public Culture project, science and technology studies, and the changing interests and goals of students. Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary allows readers to eavesdrop on lively conversations between anthropologists who have helped to shape their field’s recent past and are deeply invested in its future.
We’ve been taught that North and South America were empty of humans until around 13,000 years ago – amongst the last great landmasses on earth to have been settled by our ancestors. But new discoveries have radically reshaped this long-established picture and we know now that the Americas were first peopled more than 130,000 years ago – many tens of thousands of years before human settlements became established elsewhere.
Hancock's research takes us on a series of journeys and encounters with the scientists responsible for the recent extraordinary breakthroughs. In the process, from the Mississippi Valley to the Amazon rainforest, he reveals that ancient "New World" cultures share a legacy of advanced scientific knowledge and sophisticated spiritual beliefs with supposedly unconnected "Old World" cultures. Have archaeologists focused for too long only on the "Old World" in their search for the origins of civilization while failing to consider the revolutionary possibility that those origins might in fact be found in the "New World"?
America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization is the culmination of everything that millions of readers have loved in Hancock's body of work over the past decades, namely a mind-dilating exploration of the mysteries of the past, amazing archaeological discoveries and profound implications for how we lead our lives today.