THE PODCAST

26 February 2021

Episode 7: In Conversation with Dr. Deborah Thomas

How can ethnographers use multimedia presentations of their work to reach new audiences, build different relationships with their participants, and promote new practices of witnessing and representation? On today’s episode we talk with Dr. Deborah Thomas, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She tells us about her collaborative and multimodal project, Tivoli Stories (tivolistories.com), based on the 2010 police and military incursion into a West Kingston community in search of a notorious drug trafficker and community don that left at least 75 dead. The project includes a documentary film titled Four Days in May, a museum exhibit, and the 2019 book Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair (Duke UP, 2019). Deborah explains how a background in dance led her to become an accidental anthropologist with an interest in both sovereignty and experimental ethnographic practices. She then discusses the Tivoli Stories project, describing how collaborative attempts to gather testimonies of the incursion led to first a documentary and then her book. She takes us behind the curtains for some of the simultaneously aesthetic and political choices of the film and book, including the use of portraits to humanize participants as distinct from the common images of suffering that may be termed ghetto porn. Her reflections offer a concrete and insightful look at an alternative means of ethnographic practice attuned to the lives, experiences, and politics of the communities we study.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


12 February 2021

Episode 6: In Conversation with Dr. Eli Wilson

How can ethnographic research shine light on the reproduction of social inequality in upscale Los Angeles restaurants? In today’s episode we talk with Dr. Eli Wilson, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico, about his fieldwork in three LA restaurants. In the new book Front of the House, Back of the House, Race and Inequality in the Lives of Restaurant Workers (NYU Press, 2020), he takes readers inside the social hierarchies of upscale restaurants, where mostly white and college-educated servers and bartenders may make three times as much as the mostly Latino immigrant cooks and dishwashers who work hidden away in the back of the restaurant. Eli explains how his fieldwork emerged from his firsthand experience with the privileges of working in the front of the house. He describes the divisions between the two groups, and how he was able to build relationships with back of the house workers. He also talks about the discomfort that came from his own advantages as a tip-earner, and how he explained and managed his dual role as worker and ethnographer.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


1 February 2021

Episode 5: In Conversation with Dr. David Trouille

What meaning does a daily soccer game in a public Los Angeles park have for a group of Latino men and the ethnographer who studied them? In today’s episode, we talk with Dr. David Trouille, Assistant Professor of Sociology at James Madison University, about the ten years of fieldwork behind his new book Fútbol in the Park from the University of Chicago press. In a thoughtful self-reflexive conversation, David tells us how a neighborhood campaign against the players initially drew him to the community of Latino soccer players that are the subject of his book. He describes how he built relationships with the men over time on and off the field, and how the social space of the games created social ties that were essential to their ability to find work. While surrounding well-to-do mostly white communities accepted the men as workers in their homes, they simultaneously resisted their visible presence in the park. David tells us how this stigmatization, combined with national discourses constructing Latino men as “bad hombres” created dilemmas in how to write about his research. He explains how he made difficult decisions to only partially anonymize the men but not write about their immigration status, and ultimately describe the men as complex and real human beings, including writing about their drinking and occasional fighting.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


18 January 2021

Episode 4: In Conversation with Dr. Caterina Fugazzola

In today’s episode, Sneha Annavarapu talks with Dr. Caterina Fugazzola, Earl S Johnson Instructor in Sociology at the University of Chicago, about her research on the contemporary tongzhi (LGBT) movement in the People’s Republic of China. Dr. Fugazzola briefly discusses her current book project (under contract with Temple University Press) in which she explains how grassroots groups organizing around sexual identity have achieved significant social change—in terms of visibility, social acceptance, and participation—in virtual absence of public protest, and under conditions of tightening governmental control over civil society groups. But, more pertinently to our special series, our guest tells us about what drew her to the project, and the kinds of dilemmas, issues, and opportunities that marked her fieldwork in the region. For instance, she walks us through what it is like to do ethnographic fieldwork on a cruise ship! We also chat about what it means to do ethnographic observations online and why teaching digital ethnographic methods is a welcome opportunity to rethink our very dated presumptions around physical co-presence in fieldwork being desirable to gather more “authentic” data.

Click here to listen (redirects to the New Books Network page)


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