Anthropos and the Material

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: Published: June 2019

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geography

The destructive effects of modern industrial societies have shaped the planet in such profound ways that many argue for the existence of a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene. This claim brings into relief a set of challenges that have deep implications for how relations between the human, the material, and the political affect contemporary social worlds. The contributors to Anthropos and the Material examine these challenges by questioning and complicating long-held understandings of the divide between humans and things. They present ethnographic case studies from across the globe, addressing myriad topics that range from labor, economics, and colonialism to technology, culture, the environment, agency, and diversity. In foregrounding the importance of connecting natural and social histories, the instability and intangibility of the material, and the ways in which the lively encounters between the human and the nonhuman challenge conceptions of liberal humanism, the contributors point to new understandings of the capacities of people and things to act, transform, and adapt to a changing world.


“This book underscores that the Anthropocene poses challenges that far exceed disciplinary or methodological boundaries, just as they exceed the bounds of the anthropos or the material. The contributors take us far in imagining analytical frameworks, sensibilities, and political possibilities that are ‘more than human’ at a time when anthropocentrism is confronting the consequences of its hubris.” — Nidhi Subramanyam, Geographical Review

“Featuring outstanding, rich, and conceptually and ethnographically inspiring work, Anthropos and the Material is a welcome and important contribution to the field. This excellent collection will be of interest to anthropologists and scholars in the humanities and social sciences working on materiality, posthumanism, multispecies ethnography, space, capitalism, and the Anthropocene.” — Gastón R. Gordillo, author of Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction

“If you want to understand the politics of vibrant matter without being absorbed into the very circumstances you struggle against, look to ethnography. That's the invigorating message Anthropos and the Material brings to an era of climate change and cryptocurrencies, as humans increasingly confront their entanglements—destructive, creative, indifferent—with the materialities of a world that exceeds them. An inspiring example of what anthropology can be, or become, once liberal humanism has been well and truly displaced.” — Kath Weston, author of Animate Planet: Making Visceral Sense of Living in a High-Tech Ecologically Damaged World


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Penny Harvey is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and Professor II in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.

Christian Krohn-Hansen is Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.

Knut G. Nustad is Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction / Penny Harvey, Christian Krohn-Hansen, and Knut G. Nustad  1
Part I: Materializing Structures
1. Uncommoning Nature: Stories from the Anthropo-Not-Seen / Marisol de la Cadena  35
2. Contemporary Capitalism and Dominican New Yorkers' Livery-Cab Bases: A Taxi Story / Christian Krohn-Hansen  59
3. Anthropos and Pragmata: On the Shape of Things to Come / Ingjerd Hoëm  81
Part II: Material Potential
4. Tabu and Bitcoin: Fluctuating (Im)materiality in Two Nonstate Media of Exchange / Keir Martin  103
5. Sperm, Eggs, and Wombs: The Fabrication of Vital Matters through Legislative Acts / Marit Melhuus  122
6. Lithic Vitality: Human Entanglement with Nonorganic Matter / Penny Harvey  143
7. Traces of Pasts and Imaginings of Futures in St Lucia, South Africa / Knut G. Nustad  161
Part III: Material Uncertainties and Heterogeneous Knowledge Practices
8. Matters that Matter: Air and Atmosphere as Material Politics in South Africa / Rune Flikke  179
9. The Ghost at the Banquet: Ceremony, Community, and Industrial Growth in West Norway / Marianne Elisabeth Lien and John Law  196
10. When the Things We Study Respond to Each Other: Tools for Unpacking "the Material" / Anna Tsing  221
Contributors  245
Index  249
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0286-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0179-9
Publicity material