Panel no. 49 - Ethnographies of Neoliberalism: Hope or Pessimism?


Title Dr First name SACHIKO Last name TANUMA
Institution Tokyo Metropolitan University City Tokyo Country JP


Title Dr First name Inge Last name Daniels
Institution name University of Oxford City Oxford Country GB


Panel title

Ethnographies of Neoliberalism: Hope or Pessimism?

Panel abstract

In recent years, neoliberalism has come under critique within anthropology, as a political and economic force that subordinates social aspects to the economy by marketing every aspect of life, and creating subjects willing to meet this demand (Ganti, 2014). Moreover, ethnographic reports have been pessimistic of the neoliberal phenomenon, although situations of precarity may produce new socialities and openings. Allison and Piot (2014) conclude that "there is emerging a type of melancholy rejouissance that points toward a different future". However, when we explore some detailed ethnographic cases under the neoliberal conditions more carefully, we may find that they contain and/or offer something positive; neoliberal conditions do not always work on behalf of the elite, as has been suggested by many. The less privileged also hold expectations - that neoliberalism may grant them more freedom and justice, as the rules and orders of the past are broken. As ethnographers, our role is not only to raise an alarm but also to show that neoliberalism is a double-edged sword. This must be accomplished by describing indigenous experiences and narratives, and comparing this with other ethnographies. Such an analysis would clarify what it is actually like living within neoliberalism. By examining the differences and variety of societies and people that cope with neoliberalism, we may not only find a new and better way of responding to them in their/our daily lives but also expand our vision and way of "doing" ethnography.

IUAES Commission