A Brief Note: Bourdain and Anthropology

I rarely react to celebrity deaths. And I typically avoid the social media detritus strewn in their wake. I don't identify with the famous. Perhaps what makes my sentiments around Bourdain’s passing different is that he was one of ours. We won’t admit it, but despite some quirks, many anthropologists envied him. His fieldwork. His …

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On Personhood and its Subjunctivity

The following post reflects on shifting and malleable forms of personhood--a construct that we often consider to be a given and fixed throughout life. This is an enhanced version of some material originally appearing in Spirit Children: Illness, Poverty, and Infanticide in Northern Ghana. [1,300 words] Elijah and I sat chatting with three elder men …

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Narrative Transformations: Reflections on Frey’s “Carry Forth the Stories”

My commentary on Rodney Frey's latest ethnography, Carry Forth the Stories: An Ethnographer’s Journey into Native Oral Tradition, was reciently published. It was an honor to be able to review and comment on his book. Rodney was my first mentor and MA advisor. Much of what he taught, and what his mentors showed him, shaped who I …

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Rituals for Suspicion, Rituals for Fate

This work in progress is part of my emerging collection of essays. Details on this effort and the first essay are here. This piece moves further into how culture shapes our our interpersonal concerns. [3,000 words] I must have seemed slightly unhinged. I was in the middle of a long period of fieldwork and starting to …

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The White Man is My Driver

I'm working on a new collection of essays and experimenting with different forms of writing. This post is from my book in progress tentatively titled, “The White Man is My Driver: Fieldnotes on Belonging.” Readability and narrative will be privileged over theory and abstraction. In other words, the book consists of mostly the good parts. [1900 …

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Theories of Culture in Uncertain Times: Anthropology and the Rise of Financial Risk Culture

This post originally appeared on Linkedin. At the time, I intended it to be the first in a series exploring the role that anthropology can play in risk culture. I remain interested in this area; however, due to other priorities it will likely be sometime before I write more on this theme. This essay connects with my …

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Finding Empathy Through Troubling Stories

This reflection was originally posted on the University of Wisconsin Press website to mark the publication of my book, "Spirit Children: Illness and Poverty in Ghana." As I began writing about infanticide and the “spirit child” phenomenon in Northern Ghana, I became interested in how narratives of vulnerability and difficult human experiences can evoke powerful …

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