Deborah James, PhD
Professor of Anthropology
London School of Economics and Political Science
Born in 1954 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Studied Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand
Between State and Market: A New Anthropology of Redistribution in Precarious TimesAlongside other scholars, anthropologists have recently developed an interest in redistribution. In contrast to what is emphasised by much of the classic literature, their unique contribution to this study lies in an awareness of the growing informality of redistributive processes. The “new middle class” appears to be on the rise, albeit unevenly and often precariously, but state capacity to levy taxes from it (and from those higher up the scale) or to provide support to it in times of trouble appears to be on the wane. The focus is thus shifting to re-allocative processes beyond those that were tried and tested in the heyday of the welfare state. My book project brings together interrelated themes in my recent research that illuminate this topic: the expansion of the global middle class, on the one hand; and the rise of financialised debt and of independently or charitably funded advice in contexts of austerity and the shrinking welfare state, on the other. While drawing on my own first-hand research in the UK and South Africa, the project/book will also incorporate insights from other sources, including those produced by recent cognate research projects conducted in Europe and the global South, in whose workshops and conferences I have been involved.
James, Deborah (1999). Songs of the Women Migrants: Performance and Identity in South Africa. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
– (2007). Gaining Ground? “Rights” and “Property” in South African Land Reform. London: Routledge-Cavendish; Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
– (2015). Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa. Stan-ford: Stanford University Press.