Recent Books by New Zealand Anthropologists

Three excellent booked have recently been published by New Zealand anthropologists, which deal with the ways in which neoliberal policies are reshaping health, fisheries, and education. Collectively, they reflect the critically engaged, politically grounded, and globally comparative flavour of anthropology in Aotearoa New Zealand.

One Blue Child by Susanna Trnka (Stanford 2017)

“One Blue Child examines the emergence of self-management as a global policy standard, focusing on how healthcare is reshaping our relationships with ourselves and our bodies, our families and our doctors, companies, and the government. Comparing responses to childhood asthma in New Zealand and the Czech Republic, Susanna Trnka traces how ideas about self-management, as well as policies inculcating self-reliance and self-responsibility more broadly, are assumed, reshaped, and ignored altogether by medical professionals, asthma sufferers and parents, environmental activists, and policymakers. By studying nations that share a commitment to the ideals of neoliberalism but approach children’s health according to very different cultural, political, and economic priorities, Trnka illuminates how responsibility is reformulated with sometimes surprising results.”

Book review by Ema Hrešanová here.

Private Oceans: The enclosure and marketisation of the seas by Fiona McCormack (Pluto/University of Chicago Press)

“Grounded in fieldwork in New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland and Hawaii, McCormack offers up a comparative analysis of the mechanisms driving the transformations unleashed by a new era of ocean grabbing. Exploring the processes of privatisation in ecosystem services, Private Oceans traces how value has been repositioned in the market, away from productive activities. The result? The demise of the small-scale sector, the collapse of fishing communities, cultural loss, and the emergence of a newly propertied class of producers – the armchair fisherman. Ultimately, Private Oceans demonstrates that the deviations from the capitalist norm explored in this book offer grounds for the reimagining of both fisheries economies and broader environmental systems.”

Book review by Sarah Ensor here.

Death of the Public University: Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy by Susan Wright and Chris Shore. (Berghahn 2017)

“Universities have been subjected to continuous government reforms since the 1980s, to make them ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘efficient’ and aligned to the predicted needs and challenges of a global knowledge economy. Under increasing pressure to pursue ‘excellence’ and ‘innovation’, many universities are struggling to maintain their traditional mission to be inclusive, improve social mobility and equality and act as the ‘critic and conscience’ of society. Drawing on a multi-disciplinary research project, University Reform, Globalisation and Europeanisation (URGE), this collection analyses the new landscapes of public universities emerging across Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and the different ways that academics are engaging with them.”

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