Brenda Chalfin is a Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida. Bringing together cultural anthropology, geography, and political economy to establish new analytic points of entry to understanding political life in contemporary African states, her research addresses the complex functioning of national boundaries and frontiers, the popular production of infrastructure and urban public goods, non-territorial and maritime sovereignty, the built environment, and the changing political valence of waste in the context of late-capitalism.
Chalfin has held fellowships at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies and been a recipient of Fulbright, Wenner-Gren, and National Science Foundation grants. Chalfin earned her PhD in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her publications include Neoliberal Frontiers: An Ethnography of Sovereignty in West Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2010), Shea Butter Republic: State Power, Global Markets, and the Making of an Indigenous Commodity (Routledge, 2004), and journal articles in American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, and Politique africaine. The January 2016 issue of Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, includes the article “Wastelandia: Infrastructure and the Commonwealth of Waste in Urban Ghana.”
Chalfin is currently completing a new book titled “Vital Politics: Infrastructures of Bare Life on Ghana’s Urban Frontier.” An urban ethnography drawn from her extended research in the West African nation of Ghana, this work explores alternative infrastructures of waste management that emerge in contexts where state and municipal provisioning of public works are grossly, and deliberately, inadequate to urban realities. A form of large-scale, bottom-up, urban life-support, these arrangements both colonize and compromise paradigms of urban modernism. Chalfin closely examines the collectivities, convivialities, and bodily disciplines upon which such built forms rely. The specificities of the Ghanaian case are used to address broader debates regarding the place of bodies and bodily outputs in the public sphere and the coincident revaluation of urban waste by urban denizens seeking to satisfy basic needs and purveyors of finance capital lured by waste’s speculative potential.
Focused on off-shore oil economy in the deep waters of the western Gulf of Guinea, Chalfin is also conducting research on techniques of governance that emerge alongside maritime extraction. Examined through the shared analytical lens of political geography and political anthropology, these include systems of off-shore surveillance as well as on-shore security installations.
Jane Cowan is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre at the University of Sussex in Brighton UK, where she has taught since 1991. American born and educated, she received her BA from Macalester College and her MA and PhD in anthropology and ethnomusicology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Cowan’s first book, Dance and the Body Politic in Northern Greece (Princeton 1990; Winner of the Chicago Folklore Prize), explored the ways that gender, power and identity were embodied, performed and negotiated within social dancing in a small Greek town.
Cowan’s years of fieldwork in this multilingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious border region of Greek Macedonia alerted her to the local population’s complex responses to nation-building practices over the 19th and 20th centuries, a theme taken up in her edited book, Macedonia: The Politics of Identity and Difference (Pluto 2000). When, confronted with an emerging Movement for Macedonian Human Rights around the town of Florina in northwest Greece in the early 1990s, many from her fieldsite east of Thessaloniki expressed scepticism, protesting that “we are not a minority”, this disjuncture of sentiments among members of the “same” population was the empirical starting point for a broader theorization of the relations between culture and rights (developed in Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives, Cambridge 2001, co-edited with MB Dembour and RA Wilson). She was inspired to ask, “when and where is a minority?” (not “what?”) and to reflect on the located nature and contingent political conditions in which minoritisation emerges as well as the ambiguities of a seemingly emancipatory discourse.
Intrigued by the mutability and situational politics of ethnic and national categorization in contemporary Macedonia (and southeast Europe generally), Cowan sought to develop a longer-term perspective. In 1998, she entered the League of Nations Archives where she has been examining petitions for rights and protections as well as for Macedonian nationhood. Just as importantly, she is analysing the interactions these petitions generated between minority claimants, international civil servants, Western European feminists, pacifists and internationalists, civic organisations, revolutionaries, diplomats and the press. This research demonstrates continuities between elite Europeans’ interest in Ottoman and Hapsburg subject nationalities and their post-First World War involvement as League protagonists in minorities treaty supervision in imagining, defining and overseeing the regulation of difference of populations in the region’s new states. It reveals, moreover, the highly contested consolidation of “minority” as a legal-political category in this period.
Cowan is also currently writing a book (with Julie Billaud) on the contemporary moment of international oversight of rights. Based on their ethnographic fieldwork at the United Nations in Geneva since 2010, they are exploring the social processes and contested meanings of the Universal Periodic Review, a new human rights monitoring mechanism dubbed the ‘success story’ of the reformed United Nations human rights system.
Her work has been supported by grants from the Macarthur Foundation, the British Academy, Leverhulme and a Stanley J. Seeger Visiting Fellowship in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen (1962) is a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. Much of his professional work has concerned cultural dynamics in complex society, and he is widely known for his much used and translated textbooks in anthropology, notably “Small Places, Large Issues”, “Ethnicity and Nationalism” and “What is Anthropology?". In 2015, he published a biography of Fredrik Barth. Currently, he is carrying out research on the dilemmas of fossil fuels, the climate crisis and sustainability. His latest book, “Overheating: An anthropology of accelerated change” (2016), addresses these issues in an engaging and accessible way. He is currently completing a book about the predicament of growth and sustainability in an Australian industrial town.
Susana Narotzky is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, Spain. Her main research focus has been on multiple forms of access to livelihood, on care practices within and across generations, and on the historical bases of conflict. Her work is inspired by theories of radical political economy, critical geography, moral economies and feminist economics.
She was awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant to study the effects of austerity on Southern European livelihoods (Grassroots Economics [GRECO]) http://www.ub.edu/grassrootseconomics/ . This project engages with everyday practices of getting by and with the models and theories about economic processes that ordinary people develop through reflecting on their experiences and evaluating their opportunities against the backdrop of state policies and expert discourses. Results will open new theoretical ground addressing how present-day economic insecurity affects the institutional stability of European polities.
Her most recent writing includes “On Waging the Ideological War: Against the Hegemony of Form” Anthropological Theory, Vol. 16(2-3): 263-284, 2016 (OA);
“Where Have All the Peasants Gone?” Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 45:19.1–19.18, 2016; “Between inequality and injustice: dignity as a motive for mobilization during the crisis” History and Anthropology, Vol.27 (1): 74-92, 2016; and (with N. Besnier) “Crisis, Value, Hope: Rethinking the Economy”, Current Anthropology V. 55 (S9):4-16, 2014 (OA). She has co-edited with V. Goddard two volumes on the re-structuring of industry and its impact on working class livelihoods: Work and Livelihoods – History, Ethnography and Models in Times of Crisis, Routledge, 2016; and Industry and Work in Contemporary Capitalism, Routledge, 2015.
Tracey Rosen is a College Fellow and Lecturer in Social Studies at Harvard University. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 2015 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University between 2016-2017. Her interests include the relationship between global trade, migration, and collective value and she is currently developing a book exploring the impact of 21st century Chinese migration and trade in Europe and, more specifically, Greece. Based off of three years of ethnographic fieldwork among both Chinese and Greek merchants, the book is conceived as an ethnography of advanced, global capitalism that examines the nexus of self/other representation and economic practice.
James Wesley Scott is Professor of Regional and Border Studies at the Karelian Institute at the University of Eastern Finland. Prof. Scott obtained his Habilitation (2006), PhD (1990) and MA (1986) at the Free University of Berlin and his B.Sc. at the University of California Berkeley (1979). Among his research interests are: urban and regional development policy, geopolitics, border studies, transboundary regionalism in Europe and North America Changes and the spatial implications of Eastern and Central European transformation processes. Since 2003, he has coordinated European research projects on borders and cross-border cooperation within the EU’s Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes and with support from the European Research Council and the Academy of Finland. He is presently scientific coordinator of the Horizons 2020 project RELOCAL (Resituating the Local in Cohesion Policy) and coordinator of GLASE (Multilayered Borders of Global Security), funded by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council.
Joseph John Viscomi is a Faculty Fellow at NYU's Center for European & Mediterranean Studies. He completed his Ph.D. in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan in 2016. Joseph's primary research interests are in decolonization, migration, and historical consciousness in the Mediterranean since the late-nineteenth century. His first manuscript, tentatively entitled, “Out of Time: History, Presence, and the Departure of the Italians of Egypt, 1933-present,” explores how the Italians of Egypt–a population that numbered around 55,000 persons on the eve of the Second World War–anticipated, experienced and remembered their departures from Egypt. The manuscript moves through, and demonstrates the connections between, scales of social, legal, and political histories. His work builds on archival, oral-historical and ethnographic research that has been supported by a CES-Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, the Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies, a Fulbright, and by the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. Currently, Joseph is working on several publications based on this research. He also holds an MA in Anthropology from the American University in Cairo.
Christoffer Kølvraa is Associate Professor in European studies at the School for Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark. His main research interests have focused on the EU institutions’ and actor’s construction of European identity – especially as embedded in various elements of European foreign- and borderpolicies. He has worked extensively on the European neighborhood policy and its implication for constructing/excluding the East (of Europe) – as published in his 2012 book ‘Imagining Europe as a Global Player’.
In addition to this he has done research on the role of affect and desire in political discourses, exploring this especially in relation to the European resurgence of Extreme and Far Right movements and parties. Most recently he has been part of a successful Horizon2020 application, which has secured him funding for a project investigating the (repressed) status of colonialism as a common European Heritage in EU discourses and cultural policies.
His most recent publications include: Limits of Attraction: The EU’s Eastern Border and the European Neighbourhood Policy. East European Politics & Societies. 31(1), 2017, European Fantasies: On the EU's Political Myths and the Affective Potential of Utopian Imaginaries for European Identity. Journal of Common Market Studies, 54(1), 2016, Affect, Provocation and Far Right Rhetoric. In ‘Affective methodologies’, Palgrave Macmillan 2015: ,Space and Spirit in the Colonial Imagination after the First World War. in ‘Zero Hours’, Peter Lang 2015