In today’s episode, I talk with Dr. Greg Beckett, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Western University, about his richly grounded book There is No More Haiti: Between Life and Death in Port-au-Prince (2019, University of California Press – and it is coming out in a paperback edition this November). This book is an examination of “crisis” in Haiti, and pushes back against the widespread racist idea that Haiti is inherently lawless by showing the ongoing production of disorder, the scripting of crisis, and the concatenation of disaster. Theoretically, the book adds nuance to ‘crisis’ as an analytic frame, showing how crisis endures, rather than being something that occurs in between two otherwise stable periods of social life. Importantly, the book foregrounds how crisis feels, and Beckett positions his interlocutors as theorists of Haitian crisis. Today’s conversation covers recognizing your interlocutors as theorists, rather than data; how to understand the seemingly oxymoronic “forever crisis”; the politics of genre; and dealing with ethnographic trauma. (Bonus content: the post-quarantine resurgence of Mexico City’s traffic and some cute birds).
Dr. Beckett completed a MA in anthropology at Western University, and an MA and PhD in anthropology at the University of Chicago. He was a Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, and prior to joining the faculty at Western, he taught at Bowdoin College in Maine. He is on Twitter @GregBeckett9.
Lachlan Summers is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. He is based in Mexico City and he researches the city’s repeating earthquakes. He is a contributing editor at Cultural Anthropology, a member of the Emergent Futures CoLab (https://www.urgentemergent.org/), and can be found on Twitter @backup_sandwich. He and his friends were permanently fired from teaching at UC Santa Cruz for participating in the wildcat strike of 2019-2020, but he hopes we can all get our jobs back soon.