How can ethnographic attention to the production of a revised student pregnancy policy complicate scholarship on the weakening of the African state in relation to funders and NGOS? Is state disempowerment in places like Malawi—where international funders provide approximately 40 percent of the country’s annual budget—wholesale? Who gets to define the legislative parameters around youth sexuality, a locus of transnational moral anxiety?
That lunch turned out to be the first of many meals that left me asking questions. Since 2014, as part of my research on biotechnology and agricultural development in Ghana, I have attended dozens of development programs throughout the country. These programs—events, workshops, trainings—are impressive microcosms of so-called development efforts. They are where farmers, government officials, development practitioners, NGO program officers, and the occasional anthropologist share spaces, ideas, and meals.
In May 2018, I spoke with Tom, an elderly man who has lived in the same house near Franklin Square in Santa Clara since the age of five. Now in his eighties and with limited mobility from a surgery targeting a brain tumor, he spends his days on the couch with a view of the park he played in as a child through his front window.
In March 2014, Business Insider published the article, “Here’s Why Companies Are Desperate to Hire Anthropologists.” Referring to the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Intel, author Drake Baer describes how corporations want to hire anthropologists to enhance their marketing strategies and product designs.