I am an anthropologist whose research focuses on social and economic transformations at capitalist margins. My current book project examines value and ‘post-agrarian’ rural life in East Africa, where decades of austerity have produced new configurations of accumulation and social life. Examining the entangled and shifting roles of road, land, and forest as resources for rural residents, the manuscript focuses on three concepts of value: ‘risk’, ‘rent’, and ‘remainder’. Two new projects extend these themes in different directions. First, an investigation of gleaning – an ancient form of redistribution, organized around harvest leftovers – considers the ongoing significance of the concept of remainder in moral-economic life.
Second, research on climate-sensitive pastoralist insurance examines the imbrication of development and financialization, while also considering the complexities of both pastoralists and ‘the environment’ as objects of knowledge and governance that have historically been difficult to apprehend within national-territorial and capitalist frames. I received my PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University in 2018 and am currently employed as Akademische Rätin at the University of Bayreuth.
ICI Project 2019-20
The project takes gleaning – the gathering of harvest leftovers – as the starting point for thinking about what a moral economy of remainders might look like today. Examining histories of gleaning as well as the contemporary gathering of remainders in contexts ranging from agricultural to financial, the project asks what is made possible when we construct resources as ‘left over’ rather than as capitalist ‘surplus’: what kinds of access are permitted, what kinds of property relations are made visible, what moral structures emerge?
Taking the remainder as a particularly compelling variant of what Marx calls ‘indeterminate property’, the research will explore whether indeterminacy might offer both practical and theoretical avenues for moving beyond late capitalism’s contradictory combination of enclosure and waste. Research will be both conceptual and ethnographic – on the one hand, a historical investigation of moral economies and forms of ‘indeterminate property’; on the other, an ethnography of remainders and gleaning in contemporary Germany.