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The Ethnographer’s Reading List: Christina Dennaoui brings us some science, emotion, & pain [guest contributor]

We have another first time contributor on Ethnography Matters! Christina Dennaoui was a graduate student of anthropology, media, and religion at the University of Chicago. After graduate school she started a new chapter as a digital planner and strategist for a digital marketing agency in Chicago. I met Christina through her amazing tumblr blog, Modern and Im/Material Things. Christina isn’t an ethnographer, but she’s a crazy smart social theorist working in industry, so we immediately bonded. Here’s some more about Christina from her bio: 

Off the clock, she is an artist, and producer of electronic music. She also volunteers on the Associate Board of Chicago’s largest LGBTQ resource center. She is currently working on a project, which she jokingly calls “post-colonial dubstep.” The project combines elements of critical theory with dance music. This project began with a transatlantic collaboration with Parisian musicians to “remix” Zizek’s Occupy Wall Street speech and is now expanding to include other contemporary philosophers. She’s not much for the Twitters but she tumbls and is fond of email.

If you would like to contribute to the “Ethnographer’s Reading List,” send us an email! – Tricia

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In my ideal world, I would use the summer season as an opportunity to catch up on recently released works of fiction or non-fiction. This summer, however, has been the start of a somewhat ambitious project: actually reading all of the books on my bookshelf in their entirety. Crazy, right?  My goal is to take my time with each book, actually “sitting with” the author’s arguments rather than voraciously consuming theory like I did in graduate school. My graduate studies focused on religion, anthropology, and communication theory, which means that I have shelves full of work that relate to my professional work in digital strategy and planning. Although there is no grand theme uniting all of the books on my list, there are a few sub-themes worth calling out: archiving and identity, personal branding, quantifying individual interests, and the meaning of “strategy.”

The Science of Passionate Interests: An Introduction to Gabriel Tarde’s Economic Anthropology

Bruno Latour and Vincent Antonin Lepinay
(A
PDF of the book)

Though short in length, Latour and Lepinay’s introduction of Gabriel Tarde’s  Psychologie Economique is dense but remarkably clear. Situating Tarde’s work in a larger context of economic and political theory, Latour and Lepinay tease out some the aspects of Tarde’s work that provide useful conceptual frameworks for articulating the more esoteric aspects of economics as a field of study. One area that is of particular relevance to my work is Tarde’s interest in the qualitative measures of economies, such as conversations, tastes, ideas, etc. For Tarde, one of the shortcomings of his contemporaries was that their economic methods often focused on the study of wealth and production to exclusion of other available data. It wasn’t that one approach was better than the other but that a narrow focus creates methodological problems because it often results in the construction of the very structure it aims to study. It’s a simple enough argument, yes, but one that was lost in the wake of Marx’s work.

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