What’s in a name?: Gregory Clark examines how ancestry and names still determine social outcomes

 

By Hannah Lucas, Princeton University Press intern

son also risesEarlier this year, an Icelandic 15-year-old formally known on official documents as ‘Girl’ won the right to have her first name recognised by the authorities as Blaer. It was previously illegal for the name Blaer to be given to girls; it was restricted to use as a boy’s name. This case emphasises the ongoing regulations on first names in a number of countries, such as Germany, Sweden, China and Japan- in Germany, for instance, surnames are banned as first names. These constraints purportedly serve to protect children from distress, should their parents choose an inappropriate name. Yet how much does a name affect us as we go through life? We are assigned a first name, but our surname follows as a legacy of our family’s history. Indeed, names and the ancestral background that they evoke have ascribed social status for many years, whether this is restricting or elevating. The everyday significance of surnames and ancestry may have diminished from the historical rigid traditions of lineage, but it has not gone away, as Gregory Clark explores in The Son Also Rises. Clark uses modern Scandinavia as one of his areas of study, parallel to a diverse selection of cases, including fourteenth-century England and Qing Dynasty China.

The Son Also Rises deals with the potentialities of choice and predetermination in relation to ancestry and social mobility. As exemplified in the case of ‘Girl’, or Blaer as she is now known, modern-day Iceland – among many – impedes the choice of parents in the naming of their child, acting as a predetermining factor not dissimilar to that of a family history. Clark offers a fascinating insight into the significance of being out of control of the naming process, and how much these circumstances affect movement on the social ladder. He explores the influence of ancestors’ names and reputations on their descendants, and how long it takes to dislodge these connections, ultimately examining society’s response to whether ‘A rose / By any other name would smell as sweet’.

The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility by Gregory Clark was published last month.

 

Waiting for José wins the 2013 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association

Shapira_Waiting for JoseHarel Shapira - Waiting for José: The Minutemen’s Pursuit of America

Winner of a 2013 Southwest Book Award, Border Regional Library Association

“Since 1971 the Southwest Book Awards have been presented in recognition of outstanding books about the Southwest published each year in any genre (e.g. fiction, nonfiction, reference) and directed toward any audience (scholarly, popular, children). Original video and audio materials are also considered.”  An awards banquet was held in El Paso on February 22, 2014.

Here is a complete list of the 2013 winners:  http://brla.info/swba13.shtml

About the book: Harel Shapira lived with the Minutemen and patrolled the border with them, seeking neither to condemn nor praise them, but to understand who they are and what they do. Challenging simplistic depictions of these men as right-wing fanatics quick on the trigger, Shapira discovers a group of men who long for community and embrace the principles of civic engagement. Yet these desires and convictions have led them to a troubling place.

Shapira takes you to that place–a stretch of desert in southern Arizona, where he reveals that what draws these men to the border is not simply racism or anti-immigrant sentiments, but a chance to relive a sense of meaning and purpose rooted in an older life of soldiering. They come to the border not only in search of illegal immigrants, but of lost identities and experiences.

Sample the introduction of Waiting for José here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9962.pdf

Peter Benson Wins 2013 Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize

Peter BensonTobacco Capitalism: Growers, Migrant Workers, and the Changing Face of a Global Industry
Winner of the 2013 Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America, Society for the Anthropology of North America / American Anthropological Association

The Jones and Sharff Memorial Prize is given for an outstanding single or multiple authored book (not edited collections) that deals with an important social issue within the discipline of anthropology; has broader implications for social change or justice; and is accessible beyond the discipline of anthropology.
For more information about the award, click here.

Tobacco CapitalismTobacco Capitalism tells the story of the people who live and work on U.S. tobacco farms at a time when the global tobacco industry is undergoing profound changes. Against the backdrop of the antitobacco movement, the globalization and industrialization of agriculture, and intense debates over immigration, Peter Benson draws on years of field research to examine the moral and financial struggles of growers, the difficult conditions that affect Mexican migrant workers, and the complex politics of citizenship and economic decline in communities dependent on this most harmful commodity.

Benson tracks the development of tobacco farming since the plantation slavery period and the formation of a powerful tobacco industry presence in North Carolina. In recent decades, tobacco companies that sent farms into crisis by aggressively switching to cheaper foreign leaf have coached growers to blame the state, public health, and aggrieved racial minorities for financial hardship and feelings of vilification. Economic globalization has exacerbated social and racial tensions in North Carolina, but the corporations that benefit have rarely been considered a key cause of harm and instability, and have now adopted social-responsibility platforms to elide liability for smoking disease. Parsing the nuances of history, power, and politics in rural America, Benson explores the cultural and ethical ambiguities of tobacco farming and offers concrete recommendations for the tobacco-control movement in the United States and worldwide.

Peter Benson is assistant professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the coauthor of Broccoli and Desire: Global Connections and Maya Struggles in Postwar Guatemala.

New Anthropology Catalog

Be among the first to browse and download our new anthropology catalog!

Of particular interest is Margaret Lock’s The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging. Because of rapidly aging populations, the number of people worldwide experiencing dementia is increasing and the projections are grim. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested in medical research, no effective treatment has been discovered for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer Conundrum exposes the predicaments embedded in current efforts to slow down or halt Alzheimer’s disease through early detection of presymptomatic biological changes in healthy individuals.

Also be sure to note Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind by Nikolas Rose and Joelle M. Abi-Rached. The brain sciences are influencing our understanding of human behavior as never before, from neuropsychiatry and neuroeconomics to neurotheology and neuroaesthetics. Many now believe that the brain is what makes us human, and it seems that neuroscientists are poised to become the new experts in the management of human conduct. Neuro describes the key developments—theoretical, technological, economic, and biopolitical—that have enabled the neurosciences to gain such traction outside the laboratory. It explores the ways neurobiological conceptions of personhood are influencing everything from child rearing to criminal justice, and are transforming the ways we “know ourselves” as human beings. In this emerging neuro-ontology, we are not “determined” by our neurobiology: on the contrary, it appears that we can and should seek to improve ourselves by understanding and acting on our brains.

And don’t miss out on When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health, edited by João Biehl & Adriana Petryna. When People Come First critically assesses the expanding field of global health. It brings together an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars to address the medical, social, political, and economic dimensions of the global health enterprise through vivid case studies and bold conceptual work. The book demonstrates the crucial role of ethnography as an empirical lantern in global health, arguing for a more comprehensive, people-centered approach.

Even more foremost titles in anthropology can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Chicago, IL November 20th through the 23rd, come visit us at booth 307, and follow #AAA2013 on Twitter for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

Ken MacLeish Interviews with New Books Network

3-6 Making WarKen MacLeish, assistant professor of medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University and author of Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community, recently did an interview with the New Books Network about his  book, which offers an illuminating look at war through the daily lives of the people whose job it is to produce it.

Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world, and many of the 55,000 personnel based there have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MacLeish provides intimate portraits of Fort Hood’s soldiers and those closest to them, drawing on numerous in-depth interviews and diverse ethnographic material.

The full interview can be found here on the New Books Network website by clicking on the “Play” button in the bottom left corner.

Don’t forget to check out the Making War at Fort Hood Facebook Page.

Merry White Brings “Cooking for Crowds” to Harvard Bookstore

White_CookingForCrowdsF13As the holidays are approaching, some people are looking for that perfect recipe to cook up something delicious to wow all of their friends and family. Merry White, author of Cooking for Crowds, has released the 40th anniversary edition of her book, which includes a new introduction and new illustrations, and will offer her readers the recipes they’ve been searching for.

She will be at the Harvard Book Store on December 5th at 7:00 PM to discuss the book and to sign copies, which will be for sale in the store. Want more information? Click here.


When Cooking for Crowds was first published in 1974, home cooks in America were just waking up to the great foods the rest of the world was eating, from pesto and curries to Ukrainian pork and baklava. Now Merry White’s indispensable classic is back in print for a new generation of readers to savor, and her international recipes are as crowd-pleasing as ever–whether you are hosting a large party numbering in the dozens, or a more intimate gathering of family and friends.

In this delightful cookbook, White shares all the ingenious tricks she learned as a young Harvard graduate student earning her way through school as a caterer to European scholars, heads of state, and cosmopolitans like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. With the help of her friend Julia Child, the cook just down the block in Cambridge, White surmounted unforeseen obstacles and epic-sized crises in the kitchen, along the way developing the surefire strategies described here. All of these recipes can be prepared in your kitchen using ordinary pots, pans, and utensils. For each tantalizing recipe, White gives portions for serving groups of six, twelve, twenty, and fifty.

Kenneth T. MacLeish Wins Third Prize in the Victor Turner Prize

Kenneth T. MacLeish - Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community
Third Prize in the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, Society for Humanistic Anthropology and American Anthropological Association

The late Victor Turner devoted his career to seeking a language that would reopen anthropology to the human subject, and the prize will be given in recognition of an innovative book that furthers this project. Eligible genres include ethnographic monographs, narratives, historical accounts, biographies, memoirs, dramas, or single-authored collections of essays, short stories or poems.

 Prizes will be awarded at the AAA November annual meeting. To learn more about this award, click here.

Making War at Fort HoodMaking War at Fort Hood offers an illuminating look at war through the daily lives of the people whose job it is to produce it. Kenneth MacLeish conducted a year of intensive fieldwork among soldiers and their families at and around the US Army’s Fort Hood in central Texas. He shows how war’s reach extends far beyond the battlefield into military communities where violence is as routine, boring, and normal as it is shocking and traumatic.

Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world, and many of the 55,000 personnel based there have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MacLeish provides intimate portraits of Fort Hood’s soldiers and those closest to them, drawing on numerous in-depth interviews and diverse ethnographic material. He explores the exceptional position that soldiers occupy in relation to violence–not only trained to fight and kill, but placed deliberately in harm’s way and offered up to die. The death and destruction of war happen to soldiers on purpose. MacLeish interweaves gripping narrative with critical theory and anthropological analysis to vividly describe this unique condition of vulnerability. Along the way, he sheds new light on the dynamics of military family life, stereotypes of veterans, what it means for civilians to say “thank you” to soldiers, and other questions about the sometimes ordinary, sometimes agonizing labor of making war.

Making War at Fort Hood is the first ethnography to examine the everyday lives of the soldiers, families, and communities who personally bear the burden of America’s most recent wars.

Kenneth T. MacLeish is assistant professor of medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University.

Thomas Blom Hansen a Finalist for the 2013 Herskovits Award

Thomas Blom Hansen - Melancholia of Freedom: Social Life in an Indian Township in South Africa
Finalist for the 2013 Melville J. Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

The African Studies Association presents the Herskovits Award to the author of the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English during the preceding year. The winner of the Herskovits Award is announced each year at the ASA Annual Meeting, where he or she receives an honorarium of $500.  The ceremony will take place in 2013 on November 23rd in Baltimore, MD.

For more information about the award, click here.

Melancholia of Freedom In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen offers an in-depth analysis of the uncertainties, dreams, and anxieties that have accompanied postapartheid freedoms in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban. Exploring five decades of township life, Hansen tells the stories of ordinary Indians whose lives were racialized and framed by the township, and how these residents domesticated and inhabited this urban space and its institutions, during apartheid and after.

Hansen demonstrates the complex and ambivalent nature of ordinary township life. While the ideology of apartheid was widely rejected, its practical institutions, from urban planning to houses, schools, and religious spaces, were embraced in order to remake the community. Hansen describes how the racial segmentation of South African society still informs daily life, notions of race, personhood, morality, and religious ethics. He also demonstrates the force of global religious imaginings that promise a universal and inclusive community amid uncertain lives and futures in the postapartheid nation-state.

Thomas Blom Hansen is professor of anthropology and the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of South Asian Studies at Stanford University, where he also directs the Center for South Asia. His books include The Saffron Wave and Wages of Violence.

Natasha Dow Schüll Recieves Honorable Mention for “Addiction by Design”

Natasha Dow Schüll – Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
Honorable Mention for the 2013 Gregory Bateson Prize, The Society for Cultural Anthropology

The Bateson Prize is designed to reward work that is theoretically rich, ethnographically grounded, and in the spirit of the tradition for which the SCA has become known-interdisciplinary, experimental, and innovative.

“Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press) by Natasha Dow Schüll offers a simultaneously critical and empathetic account of the world of machine gambling and machine-human interface, more generally. Schüll richly documents the crafting of an interiority that is highly attractive to the gambler and very profitable for the gaming companies and offers a comprehensive analysis of this deeply disturbing effort to engineer a psychic state through expert calibration of the human senses via machines. This highly engaging and accessible book is destined to serve as a model of ethnography for science and technology studies in the years to come.”

Addiction By DesignRecent decades have seen a dramatic shift away from social forms of gambling played around roulette wheels and card tables to solitary gambling at electronic terminals. Addiction by Design takes readers into the intriguing world of machine gambling, an increasingly popular and absorbing form of play that blurs the line between human and machine, compulsion and control, risk and reward.

Drawing on fifteen years of field research in Las Vegas, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll shows how the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the “machine zone,” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible–even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion. In continuous machine play, gamblers seek to lose themselves while the gambling industry seeks profit. Schüll describes the strategic calculations behind game algorithms and machine ergonomics, casino architecture and “ambience management,” player tracking and cash access systems–all designed to meet the market’s desire for maximum “time on device.” Her account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Addiction by Design is a compelling inquiry into the intensifying traffic between people and machines of chance, offering clues to some of the broader anxieties and predicaments of contemporary life.

Natasha Dow Schüll is associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 5 — solution

Yesterday we challenged you to put your NYC knowledge to the test and tell us where this picture was taken:

quiz

 

Here’s the uncropped version of the picture:

solution

 

This beautiful spot is El Flamboyan Garden located at Tinton Avenue at 150th Street. It is a terrific example of the “greening of the city” that Bill Helmreich describes in The New York Nobody Knows.

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 5

We took a week off, but we’re back. Think you know everything there is to know about New York City? Try your hand at identifying where this photo was taken? Post your best guess here or on twitter:

quiz

 

This quiz is presented as we lead up to the publication of Bill Helmreich’s new book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. Sample a chapter here and check out The New Yorker’s recent story about going on a walk with Bill.

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

Toward a public health approach — a new proposal for our response to Alzheimer’s Disease from medical anthropologist Margaret Lock

This video from the Alzheimer’s Association gives a sense of the magnitude of the Alzheimer’s Disease epidemic. We will soon publish The Alzheimer Conundrum by Margaret Lock that argues that the quest for a “silver bullet” cure or vaccine, while admirable is unlikely to be successful. To supplement these efforts, she makes the case for diverting some funds and time to developing a comprehensive public health approach that will improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their caretakers and also lower costs that are estimated to be $203 billion dollars in 2013 and will balloon to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Sample chapter 1 of The Alzheimer Conundrum and leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

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