We wind up our series on the anthropology of work with a fascinating conversation about the remnants of settler colonial valuations of labor in present-day India and in the United States with Sarah Besky. Sarah’s combination of historical and ethnographic research has allowed her to draw connections between British settler colonialism in India, the tea plantations launched under that regime, and ongoing questions of labor and its value today. We also discussed that most successful (one might say) example of British settler colonialism, the United States, and our own remnants of colonial labor valuation regimes.

Sarah Besky is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor in the ILR School. Her research uses ethnographic and historical methods to study the intersection of inequality, nature, and capitalism in the Himalayas. In her work, she analyzes how materials and bodies take on value under changing political economic regimes, and she explores the diverse forms of labor that make and maintain that value. Articles on these questions have appeared in Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Antipode, and Environmental Humanities, as well as other interdisciplinary journals.

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Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers & Acquisitions
Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA)

SEA’s podcast, Mergers and Acquisitions demonstrates how anthropological and other perspectives can enhance and complicate understandings of economic life and contemporary events. Mergers and Acquisitions hosts interviews with leading economic anthropologists, provides reflection pieces on economic transformations and problems, and serves as a vehicle for new and established scholars to connect with each other. Recognizing that the best ideas and insights are rarely generated alone, Mergers and Acquisitions offers a collective mind-hive for furthering the study of economic life.