We are delighted to bring you a conversation between Matt, Tim, and Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought at The New School, Hugh Raffles. Raffles is the author of three books. The first of which, In Amazonia: A Natural History, is an ethnography about how rivers and humans co-constitute one another in the east Amazon of Brazil. Raffles’ second book, Insectopedia, is a collection of tales about humans and insects that takes us from the discovery of language among bees to artistic representations of contaminated butterfly wings in Chernobyl. His most recent book, The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time, is a bracing tale of time, memory, and loss, written through stories of stone. Across all three books Raffles has developed a deeply philosophical, historical, and poetic way of writing stories anthropologically that remain open to readers beyond the academy. What Raffles does with these subjects, in researching and writing about them, is somewhat alchemical, spinning them into meditations on humanity that are searing, deep, and evocative, like art; his fascination on the page is contagious. We hope you enjoy this conversation with Hugh Raffles, on his career and process, what he is learning from newer generations of anthropologists, crafting an authorly voice, and supporting others to find and craft theirs.
Hartman, S 2019. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals. WWNorton Press, New York.
Stepanova, M 2021. In Memory of Memory. Fitzcarraldo Editions, London, England.
This episode was produced by Matt Barlow and Timothy Neale, and edited by Matt Barlow, Timothy Neale, and Cameo Dalley. Conversations in Anthropology is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society and made in partnership with the American Anthropological Association.