The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association: Raising Our Voices has gone virtual. Editorial Director Gisela Fosado presents recommendations in pictures of the latest books in anthropology, and Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker has a message for virtual attendees at this year’s event.
On Friday, November 6, 2:30-3:30 PM EST, Raising Our Voices participants can join them and Anand Pandian, Carole McGranahan, Hugh Raffles, and Angela Garcia to discuss the opening of new forms and practices of ethnographic writing in their panel, “On Writing Otherwise: Rethinking the Genre and Forms of Ethnography”.
I have strong memories of arriving in Minneapolis for AAA the week after the last election. The week before – the day after the election – I had gone to Washington DC for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference. The people I talked to there were in shock, and still at a ‘how could this happen?’ level of processing, while oddly trying to go on with business as usual. As soon as I got to Minneapolis and AAA, my whole frame about the election shifted. People were talking about global interconnections, neoliberalisms and populisms, Erdogan, Duterte, Modi and more. The discussions gave me a sense of context and shared political commitment that was – and is – desperately needed.
That need is high on my list, but I am very sorry in many ways that we aren’t gathering in person this year. I like seeing everyone. It is also a thinking highlight of my year. I’m still quoting things people said last year in Vancouver (thank you, Candis Callison and Christina Sharpe). This year will be strange. And spread out. Gisela Fosado and I are on a panel Friday November 6 with our fabulous authors Anand Pandian and Carole McGranahan, along with the brilliant writers Hugh Raffles and Angela Garcia. Then December 4 – a month later – I’ll be participating in a AES Workshop organized by Naveeda Khan with Tom Lay from Fordham University Press and Jodi Lewchuck from University of Toronto Press.
Through all this, I will miss the chance to champion new books and to meet authors, new and old. I’ve been thrilled with our Marketing Department’s 50% off sale on all books and journal issues in stock and I hope you have already taken advantage of it (use coupon code AAA20). The sale doesn’t go all the way to December 4 like AAA – we aren’t that crazy—but it’s longer than the usual last day of AAA. It ends November 23.
Here are some of my favorite titles of interest to anthropologists, ones I might have been pointing out in the booth.
Our two crucial and needed lead titles are from Arturo Escobar and Marilyn Strathern. Escobar’s Pluriversal Politics is a guide to changing what is considered possible by opening out to indigenous and decolonial ontologies. Strathern’s Relations, considers exactly that, the forms of “relatives” and “relations” we currently employ and how we might think kin differently.
During the pandemic the Press has tried to bring some of the immediacy of author talks to the flat screen. I was lucky enough to have conversations with Vanessa Díaz, Carole McGranahan, and Alex Blanchette, each of whom has a fabulous new book. Vanessa’s Manufacturing Celebrity is an ethnography of two groups that make the Hollywood star system function: paparazzi, who are mostly Latinx men and young white women reporters, both necessary but disposable forms of labor. Alex Blanchette’s ethnography of a town totally arranged around pig processing, Porkopolis, is equally timely and compelling and shows that taylorized capititalism not only persists, but has reached unimagined levels. Carole McGranahan has put together 52 short essays by anthropologists, thinking about their writing, craft, and style in Writing Anthropology, a wonderful book that will be an inspiration to all of us.
Arlene Dávila’s necessary book, Latinx Art asks why US galleries and museums are so quick to engage with Latin American artists and elite curators but overlook the Latinx artists and curators in their own cities. Karen Strassler has a great new book about the evolving deployment and recirculation of images in the politics of Indonesia, Demanding Images. Christine Schwenkel’s Building Socialism, on the attempts of East German architects to design for post-war Vietnam, a form of solidarity, and the buildings and their inhabitant’s afterlives.
As always, there is a lot of great STS ethnography, including Noah Tamarkin’s Genetic Afterlives, on genetic testing and the claims of Black Jewish indigeneity by the Lembe people in South Africa; Dwai Banerjee’s compelling Enduring Cancer, on Dehli’s urban poor, where a cancer diagnosis is usually too late, one in a series of infrastructure failures for the patient. There are also two books that are all-too-needed aids for thinking about the pandemic. Lyle Fearnley’s Virulent Zones, a study of lab scientists seeking the sources for influenza working in China lakeside among waterfowl and duck farms; and Frédéric Keck’s Avian Reservoirs, on the different methods of tracking of cross-species disease in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan Also, check out Also, Andrew Alan Johnson’s Mekong Dreaming about the changing lives of humans, animals, and spirits along the river.
The esteemed China anthropologist Mayfair Yang has an important rethinking of religion, secularity and modernity in Wezhou, Re-enchanting Modernity; and Gabriella Lukács has a smart study of women in the Japanese digital economy, Invisibility by Design.
Maya Stovall is an artist and anthropologist I first saw in the Whitney Biennial, where she presented videos that documented her dancing in liquor store parking lots in her Detroit neighborhood. It turned out her dancing was a form of ethnographic engagement, part of an art and anthropology project now told in her new book, Liquor Store Theatre. Maureen Mahon’s new book, Black Diamond Queens, retells the story of rock and roll centering Black women from Laverne Baker to Tina Turner and Brittany Howard. Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan looks at the way hip hop masculinities form and shift among participants from many locales meeting in Dehli in The Globally Familiar. Also, in a transnational flow I’d recommend Farzaneh Hemassi’s Tehrangeles Dreaming, about the international reach of Iranian music from Los Angeles, its production and its fantasy world, and its reception back in Iran.
Finally, I should mention that we are now the publisher of the paperback of John Szwed’s Space is the Place, the classic book on Sun Ra. I first met John at AAA, introduced by editor colleague Peter Agree, when this book was still being written. I’m thrilled to have It on our list now.
We always like to feature the big books from beyond the discipline that would be of interest to many at AAA. There are some can’t miss books this year, including Ian Baucom’s History 4° Celsius, where he thinks the Anthropocene, the Black Atlantic, and colonial histories together; Jane Bennett’s follow-up to Vibrant Matter, Influx & Efflux; brilliant queer theory in Jack Halberstam’s Wild Things and José Esteban Munoz’s long-awaited last major work – sadly posthumous – The Sense of Brown. Also, Erin Manning’s latest, For a Pragmatics of the Useless, which uses Black thought to think about neurotypicality; and Diana Taylor, ¡Presente!: The Politics of Presence, the latest in her stunning series on politics and performance. Finally I would recommend Nandita Sharma’s Home Rule, which traces how the right of a people to be on their land is also a legacy of colonial administration and control.
Of course, if you don’t have Achille Mbembe’s Necropolitics, the (MacArthur genius) Fred Moten’s trilogy, Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake, they are on sale too. As are the big hits from AAA last year by Savannah Shange, Julie Livingston, Anand Pandian, Hannah Appel, Deborah Thomas, Bianca Williams, and others, along with Tiffany Lethbo King’s necessary The Black Shoals.
Keep an eye out for Joseph Masco’s big new book, The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making and Katherine McKittrick’s Dear Science and Other Stories, where she models what Black methodologies could be.
I hope that these suggestions are helpful and I hope to see all of you next year in person!
View our anthropology catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in anthropology and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our anthropology books and journals on dukeupress.edu. Since we cannot take photos of authors with their new books in our booth, this year, we instead offer an album of book selfies they have taken from home.
For further reading, Editor Elizabeth Ault presents her recommendations for new titles in the discipline in our previous blog post. If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth, Gisela, Ken, or another of our editors about your book project at AAA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.