This volume is an exploration of the ways in which political economy as a mode of analysis moves anthropology toward a vital, politically engaged form of scholarship. It advances the understanding of the struggles of ordinary people in the face of capitalist change. In the current economic moment when such changes are tumultuous and the instabilities of capitalism are starkly revealed, this book responds to the urgent need for theoretical and methodological approaches for understanding the forces that shape our contemporary world. Through ethnographic investigations of the quotidian, and through the thematic of politics, history and livelihoods, which distinguish Marxist political economy in the field of anthropology, the authors here reveal the increasing complexity of everyday lives. Using examples derived from fieldwork carried out across diverse geographical locations, the authors pay particular attention to historical conditions shaping the peoples’ life trajectories. In so doing the authors engage critically, and with differing emphases, with political economy and Marxism as a mode of inquiry. This book illustrates the productive tension between observations emerging from the field and theoretical debates that is generated by anthropological ethnography.

chapter |14 pages


Confronting Anthropology: The Critical Enquiry of Capitalism
ByPauline Gardiner Barber, Belinda Leach, Winnie Lem

part |80 pages


chapter |19 pages

Making Connections

The Politics of Intellectual Labor in Colombia
ByLesley Gill

chapter |17 pages

Security Anthropology and Northern Morazán, El Salvador

Confronting the Present There and Elsewhere 1
ByLeigh Binford

chapter |23 pages

Effective Politics

Band Elections and Decision Making in a Northern Ontario Anishnaabek Community
ByKrystyna Sieciechowicz

chapter |19 pages

The Soviet Revenge

How the Unrecognized Soviet-Style Mechanisms of Contemporary Finance Capitalism Cause Crisis and Catastrophe in the West
ByDon Kalb, Oane Visser

part |66 pages


chapter |16 pages

To Die in the Silence of History

Tuberculosis Epidemics and Yup'ik Peoples of Southwestern Alaska
ByLinda Green

chapter |17 pages

Not the Same Old Stories

Labor Anthropology, Vulnerabilities, and Solidarity Struggles
ByBelinda Leach

chapter |14 pages

“They Say We Aren't From Around Here”

The Production of Culture Among a Displaced People
ByGastón Gordillo

part |97 pages


chapter |24 pages

Global Connections and Disconnections

Space and Labor in Mumbai's Slums
ByJudith Whitehead

chapter |21 pages

Ghostly Figures Outside the Domain of Political Economy

Class Analysis and the Invisiblized Livelihoods of an Andean Export Zone
ByChristopher Krupa

chapter |14 pages

Humanitarian to Livelihood Approaches

A View from the Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya 1
ByWenona Giles

chapter |17 pages

Gender Mainstreaming and Market Fundamentalism in Rural Yucatán, Mexico

ByMarie France Labrecque

chapter |14 pages

Alternatives to Expanded Accumulation and the Anthropological Imagination

Turning Necessity into a Challenge to Capitalism? 1
BySusana Narotzky

chapter |5 pages


In Defense of Historical Realist Anthropology
ByGavin Smith