Up, Down, and Sideways

Up, Down, and Sideways: Anthropologists Trace the Pathways of Power

Rachael Stryker
Roberto J. González
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 284
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Up, Down, and Sideways
    Book Description:

    Using a "vertical slice" approach, anthropologists critically analyze the relationship between undemocratic uses and abuses of power and the survival of the human species. The contributors scrutinize modern institutions in a variety of regions-from Russia and Mexico to South Korea and the U.S.Up, Down, andSidewaysis an ethnographic examination of such phenomena as debtculture, global financial crises, food insecurity, indigenous land and resource appropriation, the mismanagement of health care, andcorporate surrogacy within family life. With a preface by Laura Nader, this isessential reading for anyone seeking solid theories and concrete methods to inform activist scholarship.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-402-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Laura Nader

    The plan for this volume arose from discussions addressing the theme “Studying Up, Down, and Sideways,” a theme derived from an article I wrote for Dell Hymes’s collectionReinventing Anthropology(1969) entitled “Up the Anthropologist: Perspectives Gained from Studying Up.” The essays in this volume are both exciting and novel, indicating how far the writings of ethnographers have come sinceReinventing Anthropology, and how much can be accomplished by expanding the ethnographic paradigm to include both daily life issues in the contemporary world and connections that enhance understandings of the workings of power and control. The essays here reflect a...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction On Studying Up, Down, and Sideways: What’s at Stake?
    (pp. 1-24)
    Roberto J. González and Rachael Stryker

    This book is a collection of essays that explore problems of power in the United States and beyond. It is also a series of hopeful models for transcending them. Its authors are anthropologists who are concerned about the undemocratic, sometimes authoritarian uses and abuses of power today, yet believe independent, creative thinking has the power to actualize alternatives to living with these abuses. The contributors to this volume take the firm stance that anthropologists are well positioned to speak with knowledge and insight about the workings of power. This is because the anthropological lens focuses on humans holistically and cross-culturally,...


    • Chapter 1 On Debt: Tracking the Shifting Role of the Debtor in U.S. Bankruptcy Legal Practice
      (pp. 27-43)
      Linda Coco

      In autumn 2008, the United States experienced an unprecedented financial crisis defined by Wall Street’s securitization schemes and the unethical practices of financial institutions deemed “too big to fail.” Reckless securitization of real estate mortgages led to unsustainable lending practices, creating the conditions for the collapse of the U.S. housing market. Thousands of Americans lost their homes, and several major financial institutions failed, including AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns. The federal government directed taxpayer funds into bailing out a few select financial institutions. Stock markets plummeted in turn, and several large corporations such as Chrysler and General Motors became...

    • Chapter 2 On Commerce: Analyzing the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997–1998
      (pp. 44-62)
      Jay Ou

      During the 1980s in Seoul, South Korea, foreign, brand-name consumer products became wildly popular with teenagers—including me. By watching Hollywood blockbusters and American television, my friends and I learned what was cool. Suddenly, we were inundated with jackets by Members Only, jeans by Jordache, and Reebok and Nike Air Jordan sneakers. Brand names were symbols of social distinction in Korea’s nascent consumer society, and these manufactured consumer goods signaled status. My friends even sneered at anyone wearing “fake” versions of the brands, unaware of the irony: the “fake” and the “real” goods were both produced in the same Korean...

    • Chapter 3 On Bureaucracy: Excessively Up at the International Labour Organization
      (pp. 63-82)
      Ellen Hertz

      As a student of Laura Nader, I know just how much she enjoys and benefits from controversy. Thus, I was disappointed recently to discover that her flagship phrase “studying up” occasions almost none. Many authors seem unaware of the phrase’s origin, or worse still, claim that perspectives on studying up are quite common while citing Nader’s famous article among numerous “other examples.”¹ Moving from sources to content, one finds a similar lack of critical reflection. Many authors (mainly sociologists) have explored the deontological and practical difficulties surrounding the study of powerful people, asking whether researchers are held to the same...


    • Chapter 4 On Dispossession: The Work of Studying Up, Down, and Sideways in Guatemala’s Indigenous Land Rights Movements
      (pp. 85-106)
      Liza Grandia

      In late 2009, director James Cameron releasedAvatar, which eventually became the highest-grossing film of all time. It is set in the year 2154 on the ecologically exquisite planet of Pandora, where the RDA corporation has established a small outpost. The atmosphere is inhospitable to humans, but Pandora is home to the Na’vi, ethereally blue sentient beings living in close harmony with nature. RDA’s mission is to extract a mineral ironically called “unobtanium,” worth $20 million per ounce. To explore the planet, RDA contracts with a private security force called Sec-Ops and a scientist, Dr. Grace Augustine (played by Sigourney...

    • Chapter 5 On Food: Manufacturing Food Insecurity in Oaxaca, Mexico
      (pp. 107-126)
      Roberto J. González

      Imagine for a moment that you are eating a substantial breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, buttered toast, and sweet coffee.

      Now imagine that you know where every part of the breakfast originated, and that you personally know everyone involved in preparing its ingredients: the farmers who raised the pigs and chickens that provided the bacon and eggs; the people who cultivated and harvested the potatoes and the wheat that became hash browns and toast; the workers who picked the coffee beans and the sugarcane that went into your steaming cup of coffee.

      Few people in the United States...

    • Chapter 6 On Environment: The “Broker State,” Peruvian Hydrocarbons Policy, and the Camisea Gas Project
      (pp. 127-146)
      Patricia Urteaga-Crovetto

      Like many societies around the world, over the past thirty years Peru has faced a multidimensional matrix of controlling processes. Slow-motion transformations in the country’s economic, political, and ideological systems have had an accelerating impact upon the vast majority of Peruvians—and their environment. This chapter will focus upon one region of the Peruvian Amazon that has been dramatically affected by these processes. Numerous indigenous peoples have inhabited this biologically diverse region for millennia, but recently it has gained prominence internationally as the site of the Camisea Gas Project, a multinational consortium of petroleum companies from Argentina, Spain, and the...


    • Chapter 7 On Family: Adoptive Parenting Up, Down, and Sideways
      (pp. 149-169)
      Rachael Stryker

      On American culture, Margaret Mead has been paraphrased: “Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives and no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation.”¹ Some have interpreted Mead’s sentiments as inviting more institutional intervention into families, but when Mead said this in 1963, she was actually referring to Americans’ tendency to promote the nuclear family at the expense of extended, intergenerational, and non-sanguine families forged in local communities. She was also concerned that this tendency would pave the way for out-of-touch politicians, businesspeople,...

    • Chapter 8 On Truth: The Repressed Memory Wars from Top to Bottom
      (pp. 170-191)
      Robyn Kliger

      In 1997, aNew York Timesarticle headlined “Memory Therapy Leads to a Lawsuit and Big Settlement” focused national attention on the controversy of repressed memory in the United States for the first time.¹ The article recounted the case of Patricia Burgus, who had sued her therapist, his associate, and their hospital after they used hypnosis and pharmaceuticals to help her remember a horribly abusive childhood. She was then institutionalized for more than two years. Over time, however, she began to question her “recovered” memories and, after filing the malpractice suit, eventually accepted a $10.6 million settlement. In January 2004,...

    • Chapter 9 On Common Sense: Lessons on Starting Over from Post-Soviet Ukraine
      (pp. 192-210)
      Monica Eppinger

      What happens when life stops making sense? When plans, projects, life trajectories, and power hierarchies suddenly lose their salience, not just for an individual but for a nation? Imagine, for example, waking up to find your country erased from the map of the world. This was the situation for the people of the Soviet Union in 1991. Within the span of a few months, the USSR, a country 6,000 miles wide, disappeared from the map. Remainders of the Soviet Union—such as Ukraine, where I conducted anthropological fieldwork—became politically independent states. Socialism as an ideology was discredited; the Communist...

    • Chapter 10 On Caring: Solidarity Anthropology (or, How to Keep Health Care from Becoming Science Fiction)
      (pp. 211-232)
      Adrienne Pine

      As a lead educator for the California Nurses Association (CNA) from 2004 to 2007, I taught continuing education courses defined broadly by the California Board of Registered Nursing as including social science lessons germane to nursing issues. I taught hundreds of daylong seminars on technology, disaster prevention, electoral process, corporate politics, health care reform, and U.S. labor history to thousands of nurses throughout and outside California. In the process, I brought anthropological tools to workers in the “caring” profession of nursing.

      These classes contextualized registered nurses’ (RNs) day-to-day struggles as they fought to protect their patients and themselves in the...

  9. Conclusion On Power
    (pp. 233-242)
    Barbara Rose Johnston, Roberto J. González and Rachael Stryker

    This collection of essays adds to the wealth of materials that demonstrate how thinking, teaching, mentoring, research, and writing can move anthropology from a largely static engagement with and depiction of reality, to a deeper critical questioning of the means by which realities are shaped, as well as recognition of the means by which realities might be transformed. Inspired by Laura Nader’s insights on the controlling processes and constructs of hegemonic culture, the contributors to this book demonstrate an anthropology that consciously considers what it means to jump in, swim in, be affected by, and attempt to change the loci...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 243-246)
  11. References
    (pp. 247-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-272)