Guest Series: Embodying Reciprocity: Relationality and Redistribution in the Practice of Anthropology

[Footnotes is excited to present a guest series edited by Schuyler Marquez, who has also authored this introduction. Schuyler Marquez’s work focuses on bringing classical anthropological questions on religion and economy to the study of contemporary food production. Her dissertation research on the industrialization of halal meat production in Brazil analyzed the industry’s continuities and shifts within larger human histories with non-human animals and situated such developments within the wider history of Islam and capitalism. Currently Schuyler is developing a new project that analyzes the confrontations of violence and the reconfiguration of human-animal-environmental relations in plant based meat production. On Twitter: @SchuylerMarquez. Please cite accordingly.]

For many decades anthropologists have made efforts to divest anthropology from its colonial practices through the reframing of power relations between anthropologists and subjects using terms like informants, interlocutors, collaborators, and consultants. Such terms are efforts to reconstitute the ethnographic encounter as one undergirded by reciprocity, vulnerability, and collaboration (Harrison 1992; Behar 1996; Tuhiwai Smith 1999). However, much of academic culture remains rooted in practices that promote hierarchical relations, the separation of anthropological subjects from objects, and exalt the lone researcher as the ideal producer of knowledge (Navarro, Williams & Ahmad 2013; Allen & Jobson 2016). These practices erase the permeable and collaborative nature of scholarship and are academic manifestations of settler-colonialism, neoliberalism and racial capitalism (TallBear 2019; Navarro 2017; Todd 2016).

In this essay series we address some of the ways we have begun to infuse our interactions with more embodied and improvisational ways of relating as part of our scholarly and activist agendas. Römer’s essay probes how the category of the native anthropologist precludes more reciprocal collaboration and relations among anthropologists. Utilizing the notion of the encuentro, Mena and Estrella detail how they have collaborated as educator-activists, flexibly supporting one another as Black feminist scholars and bringing this relational approach to the classroom. Crockford’s essay invites us to reflect on how sifting through both the affinities and clashes provoked in intergenerational relations is important as we attempt to create new relationalities in the face of global emergencies. Mafazy shares how she encourages students to use photographs in auto-ethnographic presentations of the self to encourage ways of knowing themselves and others that challenge hegemonic and neocolonial frames. Finally, Marquez reflects on how lingering in the discomfort generated by anthropological theory and inquiry is an important gateway for enlisting students and other collaborators in anthropological forms of analysis. Together the essays invite readers to reflect on how a focus on embodiment can help us subvert traditional hierarchies and modes of interaction in favor of more nourishing configurations and praxis.


Louis Philippe Römer – Feeling like “Colored Me” and the Inequities in the Intellectual Formation of Anthropologists

Amarilys Estrella and Meryleen Mena – Black Latinx Encuentros: Embodied Knowledge and Reciprocal Forms of Knowledge Sharing

Susannah Crockford – How Can We Learn When We Have No Future?: Schools Strikes, Social Transformations, and the Possibility of Good Relations during Climate Emergency

Rebecca Gearhart Mafazy – Teaching Self-Representation through Collaborative Visual Ethnography

Schuyler Marquez – Embracing Affect in the Classroom

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