Book Reviews RSS feed for this section

Out of War: Violence, Trauma, and the Political Imagination in Sierra Leone

In his account of the war in Sierra Leone, historian and journalist Lansana Gberie deploys Mariane Ferme’s The Underneath of Things as emblematic of the problems anthropology faces when directed to the study of war. In that book, Ferme argued that the “everyday conflicts” she observed doing fieldwork in rural southeastern Sierra Leone structured the […]

Continue Reading

Edges of Exposure: Toxicology and the Problem of Capacity

From the laboratories of toxicologists, Edges of Exposure by Noémi Tousignant offers an account of the technical and infrastructural limits to understanding toxicity in post-colonial Senegal. Despite a growing body of literature in the humanities and the social sciences on toxicity, there remains a particular need to understand the embodied toxic geographies of the Global […]

Continue Reading

Inequalities of Aging: Paradoxes of Independence in American Home Care

Elana Buch’s Inequalities of Aging: Paradoxes of Independence in American Home Care is a masterful ethnography of paid home eldercare in Chicago that richly deserves the attention of medical anthropologists. The book provides a vivid portrait of the intimate but fraught and often precarious relationships that constitute paid home care in the United States, and […]

Continue Reading

Tangled Diagnoses: Prenatal Testing, Women, and Risk

In November 2018, I attended the now infamous 2nd International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong. Until then, scientists had agreed that it was too early to begin trials on human embryo editing because of safety concerns related to potential unintended “off-target” effects resulting from germline editing. Just one day before the summit, […]

Continue Reading

Cooking Data: Culture and Politics in an African Research World

Cooking Data joins a growing field of scholarship on the social lives of numbers and the materiality of data at a time when metrics have become increasingly influential in determining policy decisions and financial flows in global governance regimes. Crystal Biruk offers an engrossing account of the relations, practices and transactions that make up large-scale […]

Continue Reading

Unequal Coverage: The Experience of Health Care Reform in the United States

In April 2013, former U.S. Democratic Representative Barney Frank lamented, “I think we paid a terrible price for health care. I would not have pushed it as hard.” Mulligan and Casteñeda’s book, Unequal Coverage: The Experience of Health Care Reform in the United States, shows just how terrible that price has been. Contributors to this […]

Continue Reading

A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India

My children are living in India. Wherever human beings live, it is their home. India says the children are not Indians and that they were only born in India and Germany says the children are Indian because they are born through surrogacy, so which country does the children come from then … unfortunate to be […]

Continue Reading

Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity, and Well‐being in Postsocialist Russia

In 1996, Katherine Verdery’s book What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? set the marching orders that would define the anthropology of Eastern Europe and Central Asia for the next two decades. Verdery quite aptly observed that the history of the Soviet Union was still under construction, even as contemporary societies in newly independent post-Soviet […]

Continue Reading

Model Behavior: Animal Experiments, Complexity, and the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders

A furry, one-ounce human? In Model Behavior: Animal Experiments, Complexity, and the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders, Nicole C. Nelson offers an engaging account of the daily work of experimentation in animal behavior genetics. Taking the reader into the laboratory and other spaces of scientific inquiry, Nelson details the multifaceted processes through which researchers build and […]

Continue Reading

Wasted Wombs: Navigating Reproductive Interruptions in Cameroon

In Wasted Wombs, Erica van der Sijpt explores the logics mediating sex, marriage, conception, pregnancy, fetal loss, and female agency among the Gbigbil of eastern Cameroon. The notion of reproductive uncertainty and possible redirection—what van der Sijpt terms “reproductive conjunctures”—undergird this deeply ethnographic text. These reproductive conjunctures bring to the fore a woman’s reproductive history, […]

Continue Reading