Hill Hall 631
I am a cultural anthropologist. My ethnographically-based work focuses on the politics of inequality, particularly in Brazil. My work also touches on science and technology studies; race and ethnicity; war and violence; governance and citizenship; social movements; and the politics of expertise. My major research and writing projects include:
Constellations of Inequality
Constellations of Inequality: Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2017 and received the 2018 Sergio Buarque de Holanda Social Science Book Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section. The book is an ethnographic study of the three-and-a-half-decade-old strife surrounding Brazil’s spaceport. The site stands at the center of competing projects of social and material transformation, each aimed at redressing inequality, though on very different scales, and in very different ways. The spaceport was conceived as part of a project to make Brazil a world technomilitary power. It is today populated by two Brazilian space programs and by differing projects for a space program that might confront global political and economic inequalities. Another project is concerned not with international inequalities, but Brazil’s internal inequalities of class and race. Mobilizing as escaped-slave descendants (quilombolas), villagers (and their allies) aim to resist the expansion of the spaceport and to win the villagers rights of wellbeing and citizenship long denied them. Through this case, Constellations of Inequality analyses Brazil’s changing politics of inequality and advances an ethnographic approach to understanding the relationships between inequality and politics at multiple scales.
Mobility, Precarity, and Politics in Urban Brazil
With two colleagues, I recently completed data collection on a collaborative long-term research project, supported by the National Science Foundation. The research investigates changing class relations in Brazilian cities and how they are impacting political subjectivity and action. The project began as an examination of political-subjectivity among Brazil’s so-called “new middle class”—the estimated 40 million people who, against the backdrop of economic growth, rising wages, and redistributive social-welfare policies, exited official poverty classifications between 2000 and 2013. In recent years, matters have turned for the worse for much of this population, as Brazil has been beset by economic contraction, austerity policies, and the rise of far-right politics. While this is not the situation my colleagues and I imagined when we conceived this project, Brazil’s current situation of tumult and economic decline for the “new middle class” provides an important site for this study on the relation between political subjectivity and class. The first publication to emerge from this project, "Naming Brazil’s Previously Poor: 'New Middle Class' as an Economic, Political, and Experiential Category." (co-authored with Charles Klein and Benjamin Junge), was awarded the 2019 Sergio Buarque de Holanda Social Science Article Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section.
Anthropology and War
I have also worked on issues of war, violence, and on developing anthropological approaches to global politics. My co-edited volume, Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency (University of Chicago Press, 2010), stems from this work. It contains essays that explore the historical and contemporary relationships between anthropology and war. As a whole, the volume offers an anthropological analysis of war-making, violence, and power in the era of the so-called "War on Terror."
- Economic Anthropology
- Anthropological Theory and Methods
- Graduate Seminar: Peace, Conflict, Security and Development
- Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
- Peoples and Cultures of Latin America
- Anthropology of Inequality
- Urban Ethnography
- Anthropology Seminar: Political Anthropology
- Graduate Seminar: Ethnographic Methods
- Graduate Seminar: Contemporary Social Theory
- Graduate Seminar: Urban Theory and the Contemporary City
- Honors Seminar: Anthropology and Politics
- Honors Seminar: Technology, Politics, and Society
Selected Recent Awards
- 2019. Sergio Buarque de Holanda Social Science Article Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section. for, "Naming Brazil’s Previously Poor: 'New Middle Class' as an Economic, Political, and Experiential Category." (co-authored with Charles Klein and Benjamin Junge.
2019 School for Advanced Research, Research Team Seminar Award (with Benjamin Junge) “Precarious Mobilities: Brazil's 'Previously Poor' in Times of Growth and Crisis.”
2018. Sergio Buarque de Holanda Social Science Book Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section.Section for Constellations of Inequality: Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil. (University of Chicago Press, 2017).
- 2015-2018. National Science Foundation Research Grant: Collaborative Research: Social Mobility, Poverty Reduction, and Democracy in an Emerging Middle Class (with Benjamin Junge and Charles Klein).
- 2015-6. Faculty Fellowship from the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women (Seminar on "Poverty").
- 2013. Rutgers Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs, International Collaborative Research Grant.
- 2012. Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis Faculty Fellowship.
- 2012. Rutgers Center for Latin American Studies Fund for Faculty and Student Research Fellowship.
Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Chicago.
B.A. Philosophy, Rutgers University.
- 2017. Constellations of Inequality: Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil. University of Chicago Press. (Social Science Book Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section, 2018).
- 2010. Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, co-edited with John D. Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui and Jeremy Walton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Precarious Democracy: Ethnographies of Hope, Despair, and Resistance in Brazil after the Pink Tide. co-edited with Benjamin Junge, Alvaro Jarrin, and Lucia Cantero. To be submitted to Press in January 2020.
Edited Journal Issues
- 2017. "Afro-Brazilian Citizenship and the Politics of History," African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal 10(2). co-edited with Merle L. Bowen and LaShandra Sullivan.
Articles and Chapters
“Cruel Pessimism: The Affect of Anti-Corruption and the End of the New Brazilian Middle Class.” In Precarious Democracy: Ethnographies of Hope, Despair, and Resistance in Brazil after the Pink Tide, edited by Benjamin Junge, Alvaro Jarrin, Lucia Cantero, and Sean T. Mitchell. To be submitted to Rutgers University Press in January 2020.
2018. “Empire as Accusation, Denial, and Structure: The Social Life of US Power at Brazil’s Spaceport.” In Ethnographies of U.S. Empire. John Collins and Carole McGranahan, eds. Durham: Duke University Press.
- 2018. "Naming Brazil’s Previously Poor: 'New Middle Class' as an Economic, Political, and Experiential Category." (co-authored with Charles Klein and Benjamin Junge). Economic Anthropology. 5(1) (Winner of the 2018 Sergio Buarque de Holanda Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section).
- 2017. “Introduction: Afro-Brazilian Citizenship and the Politics of History.” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal. 10(2): 109-113.
- 2017. “Whitening and Racial Ambiguity: Racialization and Ethnoracial Citizenship in Contemporary Brazil.” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal 10(2): 114-130.
- 2016. "Countdown to an Impasse: Expertise and the Mediation of Inequality at Brazil's Alcântara Launch Center." Kellogg Institute for International Studies Working Paper Series. 413.
- 2015. "American Dreams and Brazilian Racial Democracy: The Making of Race and Class in Brazil and the United States." Focaal—Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology. 73: 41–54 (Special Issue: "E.P. Thompson, Anthropology, and Twenty-First Century Capitalism").
- 2013. Space, Sovereignty, Inequality: Interpreting the Explosion of Brazil’s VLS Rocket. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. 18(3): 395–412. (Special Issue: "Technoscience in Las Américas: STS Engagements in Latin American Anthropology").
- 2010. Paranoid Styles of Nationalism after the Cold War: Notes from an Invasion of the Amazon. In Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, ed. John D. Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui, Sean T. Mitchell, and Jeremy Walton, 89-104. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Sections of Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency of which I am a co-author:
- 2010. Introduction: “Culture, Counterinsurgency, Conscience” (co-authored with John D. Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui and Jeremy Walton);
- 2010. Introduction to Section Two: “Ethnographic Experiences of American Power in the Age of the 'War on Terror'” (co-authored with Jeremy Walton);
2010. “The U.S. Military and U.S. Anthropology” (co-authored with John D. Kelly).
- 2016. “Perspectives on Violence, Neoliberalism, and Security in 21st Century Megacities.” Review essay of: "The Spectacular Favela: Violence in Modern Brazil," by Erika Robb Larkins and "The Security Archipelago: Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism," by Paul Amar, in Theoretical Criminology 20 (4): 507–11.
- 2006. “New Histories of Afro-Descendant and Indigenous Latin America.” Review essay of: "Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000," by George Reid Andrews and "Beyond Black and Red: African-Native Relations in Colonial Latin America," edited by Matthew Restall,” in Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. 11.2: 515-18.
- 2018 Review of: The Luso-Anarchist Reader: The Origins of Anarchism in Portugal and Brazil. Góes Jr., Plínio de, Ed.. Information Age,” in Journal of Lusophone Studies 3 (1): 220-222.
- 2015. Review of: “Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination." Ann Laura Stoler, Ed., Durham: PB - Duke University Press , 2013.” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 20 (2): 387–89.
- 2012. Review of: Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy, by Alexandra Ouroussoff, Cambridge, UK: Polity, in Logos: A journal of modern society and culture. 11.2-3.2010.
- 2010. Review of: "Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil," by James Holston, Princeton: Princeton University Press, in e-misférica: Performance and Politics in the Americas. 6.2.
- 2009. Review of: "In from the Cold: Latin America's New Encounter with the Cold War," edited by G. Joseph and D. Spenser, in Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. 14.2: 514-516.
Selected Other Publications
- 2019 “O Acordo de Alcântara sacrificaria a soberania, o desenvolvimento, e os direitos dos quilombolas brasileiros.” Jornal GGN, September 6 (published in English as, "Alcântara Base: US deal a threat to Sovereignty and Quilombo communities," Brasilwire).
- 2014. "The Politics of Violence and Brazil’s World Cup." Anthropoliteia, June 30 (published in Spanish as, "Todos morirán." Revista Anfibia).
- 2008. [With Alfredo Wagner Berno de Almeida, Patrícia Portela, Cynthia de Carvalho Martins, and Aniceto Cantanhede Filho] Projeto Nova Cartografia Social da Amazônia: Quilombolas Atingidas pela Base Espacial de Alcântara, Maranhão. Manaus: PNCSA-Federal University of Amazonas.
Selected Lectures, Interviews, and Media Appearances
- Alcântara Spaceport: Race, Land Rights and National Sovereignty, Interview with Brasil Wire, 2017.
- Sean Mitchell on 2014 World Cup Media Coverage, Duke University Global Brazil Lab, 2015.
- Megaprojects & the Politics of Inequality in Brazil, Duke University Global Brazil Lab, 2015.
- "Declínio de uma família política abre o caminho para mudanças no Brasil," Estado de São Paulo, 12/26/2014.
- "Decline of a Political Family Opens the Way for a Shift in Brazil," The New York Times, 12/25/2014.
- "Corrigir o passado," Interview with Rede Angola, 12/12/2014.
- "Afro-Brazilians Demand Slavery Reparations Because 'Poverty Has A Color'," The Huffington Post, 8/26/2014.
- Core faculty member, Graduate Program in Peace and Conflict Studies.
- Core faculty member, Graduate Program in Global Urban Studies.
- Affiliate faculty member, Department of African American and African Studies.
- Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights.
- International Institute for Peace.