Professor DeHart on Knowledge and its Limits

Hi all,

Professor Monica DeHart will be part of an interdisciplinary conversation about ways of knowing tomorrow evening. This conversation, organized by the Science, Technology, and Society program here on campus, convenes representatives from the different disciplines to discuss (and potentially debate) knowledge and its limits. Here’s the key information:

Date: Wednesday, April 1
Location: Thompson 193
Time: 4:00 – 5:30
Refreshments: Affirmative

And here’s the STS flyer for the event:

Knowledge and its Limits


Professor Anthony D’Costa on Compressed Capitalism and Indian Development!

Hi all,

anthony-1Professor Anthony P. D’Costa from the University of Melbourne will be on campus for a presentation this week. Here’s the key information:

  • Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015
  • Time: 7:30 pm to 8:45 pm
  • Location: Trimble Forum

Professor D’Costa will be analyzing and exploring Indian development and the nature of the underlying capitalist processes embroiled in that development. Here’s more detailed information about his talk:

Compressed Capitalism, Globalization, and the Fate of Indian Development

India’s economic turnaround since the 1980s and since 1991 has been widely credited as a result of economic reforms. Gradual and systematic deregulation at home and increased international integration promises even better economic performance. This is only partly true since a good part of India is untouched by economic reforms in any meaningful way, even if official reports of declining poverty are to be believed. The question this paper poses is why despite envious economic growth rates, India’s development seems elusive. This is a complex issue and could be addressed variously but they are all likely to resort to ‘nation-centric’ explanations. I take an alternative perspective (still work in progress) to position India in the wider capitalist dynamic of the late twentieth century articulating the national with the global. Late capitalism in India, and for that matter many other developing countries, has meant new technologies, mature capitalists, and a relatively well-developed state. All three cumulatively stand for economic growth, industrialization, urbanization, and some politically negotiated redistribution. However, I will argue that the working of compressed capitalism, that is, primitive accumulation, which is historically complete elsewhere, is an ongoing feature in India and coexists with advanced sectors on a high road to accumulation. However, the dispossession and displacement of people and the persistence of petty commodity production in the context of technology-led, enclave-based economic production add to the development conundrum. The resulting inequality (and polarization) in India in an expanding economy is thus not an anomaly but a reflection of systemic dynamics of contemporary India.

Professor Anthony P. D’Costa joined the University of Melbourne and the Australia India Institute as Chair of Contemporary Indian Studies in 2013. Prior to joining Melbourne University, he was Research Director and A.P. Moller-Maersk Professor of Indian Studies, Asia Research Centre at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark (2008-13). He was also with the University of Washington for 18 years. He has written extensively on the political economy of steel, auto, and IT industries covering themes of capitalism and globalization, development, innovations, and industrial restructuring.Of his several books, most recently he co-edited Transformation and Development: The Political Economy of Transition in India and China with Amiya Kumar Bagchi (2012), Globalization and Economic Nationalism in Asia (edited, 2012), and A New India? Critical Reflections in the Long Twentieth Century (edited, 2010).He is working on globalization and the international mobility of IT workers (Routledge) and After Development Dynamics: South Korea’s Engagement with Contemporary Asia (edited, Oxford). He has been a fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies, Fulbright-Hays, Korea Foundation, Social Science Research Council, World Institute of Development Economics Research, Abe (Japan Foundation), and POSCO Fellow, East West Center.

SOAN Students at the SfAA Conference in Pittsburgh

Hi all,

Puget Sound students at the Pittsburgh SfAA Poster Session

Puget Sound students at the Pittsburgh SfAA Poster Session. Clockwise from upper left: Mason Constantino, Reilly Rosbotham, Mally Wyld and Elena Becker.

Seven Puget Sound students just returned from the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) annual meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. The SfAA is the second largest annual gathering of anthropologists, and it attracts both practitioners and academics who work in heath, development, environmental change, education, migration, and a constellation of other topics.

Six Puget Sound students participated in the poster session — a session that’s a perennially popular event at the SfAA. Students (and others) prepare a poster that details their research project, and hundreds of conference attendees explore and discuss these projects with students. Amongst many others in the audience, Puget Sound students discussed their research with H.Russell Bernard, Brian Burke, David Hoffman and Erin Dean.

Most of these posters detail the students’ senior thesis projects in SOAN — projects in progress this semester. Sophomore Elena Becker presented the findings from her independent project from SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods, and Parker Raup (IPE) presented a poster about his summer research project in Tanzania. Altogether, here are the titles of those posters:

Parker Raup

Parker Raup

  • Mason Constantino (Puget Sound) Empowerment through Care: An Ethnographic Examination of a Youth Gardening and Sustainable Living Education Program in Tacoma, WA
  • Elena Becker (Puget Sound) Generational Change in Durable Intentional Communities
  • Kasey Janousek (Puget Sound) The Fashionista’s Dilemma: The Identity Politics of Following Fashion Trends
  • Parker Raup (Puget Sound) Defending Pastoralism: Livelihood Diversification and Competing Currencies in Northern Tanzanian Maasailand
  • Kasey Janousek

    Kasey Janousek

    Reilly Rosbotham (Puget Sound) Imagining the Wild: Conceptions of What MakesLand Wild among proponents of Wilderness Conservation and Re-Wilding Efforts in Western Washington

  • Mally Wyld (Puget Sound) Our Daily Choices: Analyzing How and Why We Eat What We Eat

Notably, Erica Hann also had a poster in the session. Erica graduated from Puget Sound (IPE) in 2011, and she previously won an award at this very poster session. Nowadays, she’s completing her Master’s Degree in Geography at Pennsylvania State University.

Elize Zeidman's presentation

Elize Zeidman’s presentation

While most students presented posters, SOAN senior Elise Zeidman presented a paper as part of a session presenting undergraduate research, organized by Tara Hefferan (GVSU). Elise’s paper — Migrants Search For Asylum from Narco Violence — captivated the audience, and resonated with many other and papers at the conference this year.

My own paper, entitled An Ethnographic Assessment of Transnational Labor Migrants’ Experiences In Qatar’s Justice System, comprised a description of that recently-completed project and report, followed by a discussion of the reception of that report by an invited audience of policymakers, ministry officials, and other stakeholders in the Qatar Justice system.

The SfAA conference will be in Vancouver, BC next year, and we’re hoping for an even larger Puget Sound presence at that meeting.


Andrew and a Symposium at the American University of Kuwait

Hi all,

Over the last four days, I’ve been attending the Center for Gulf Studies‘ biannual KBEsymposium at the American University of Kuwait. The first symposium, held two years ago, convened around the theme of urbanization and urban form in the Gulf States. The second symposium (just concluded), centered on the concept of a knowledge-based development in the Gulf. The symposium included 26 papers and two roundtables, and altogether it was a fascinating and energetic meeting.

Farah Al-Nakib, the director of the Center for Gulf Studies (center) and several of the women from Madeenah

Farah Al-Nakib, the director of the Center for Gulf Studies (center) and several of the women from Madeenah

Most of the scholars who presented agree that the concept of knowledge-based development is a fuzzy one. In short, many of the Gulf States are pursuing the idea of a knowledge-based economy as an aspirational pathway through a post-hydrocarbon future. The concept is also the reason for the ongoing revisions of the educational systems and the presence of so many satellite campuses. The kernel of the idea of a knowledge-based economy is fairly radical as well: a purposive shift from economies based on the production of material goods to economies built around a truly renewable resource — human capital.

My paper (notably, a VERY rough draft) was entitled Gatekeepers, Imagineers, andAndrew Presentation the Development of Qatar’s Knowledge-Based Economy. In that paper, I contend that, in Qatar, the idea of a knowledge-based economy and society serves as the justification and lodestar for urban development in the present, that urban development is the keystone that holds together social relations in the rentier state, and that it underpins the unique demographic concoction of foreign workers and minority citizens we see in Qatar and elsewhere. Amidst that constellation of foreign communities, I discern and describe the role of gatekeepers, or cultural brokers of sorts, who leverage access to citizens and, ironically, imagine and purvey misconceptions about their values and norms. This draft of the paper is my first attempt to expand upon the ideas I briefly explored in Tokyo last September.

Photographs from the walking tour, including abandoned buildings and street amidst skyscrapers (left), interior stairs of a building now occupies by labor migrants (top right), and the architectural style typical of the 1980s (bottom right)

Photographs from the walking tour, including abandoned buildings and street amidst skyscrapers (left), interior stairs of a building now occupies by labor migrants (top right), and the architectural style typical of the 1980s (bottom right)

In addition to the excellent papers and a pair of interesting roundtable discussions, we also took a walking tour of Kuwait City led by three women from the organization called Madeenah. This organization is devoted to understanding and engaging the social and spatial history of the architecture and urban fabric of the city — mining a vein that is almost entirely unique in the Gulf States. The walking tour carried us to various aging modernist spaces in the city, as well as some of the abandoned interstitial spaces tucked between skyscrapers and shopping malls. It was a fascinating tour.

Now I’m sitting in airports on the long journey back home.