The Society for the Anthropology of Work, with the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing, awarded the 2022 SAW Prize to Alex Blanchette and Sarah Besky for their edited volume, How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet. The book, published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2019, was recognized by the prize jury as an impressive breakthrough in the anthropology of work. The authors explore the boundaries between human and non-human labor, across multiple sites and disciplines. This intellectually original volume outlines new ways of envisioning labor, those who perform it, and those upon whom it is performed. The authors offer persuasive, logical, yet compassionate renditions of the labor of human and not-human agents who feed humanity, culture microbial communities, and pollinate our fields. These authors paint vivid portraits of those who tend and resist efforts to make nature work.
The SAW book forum was established in 2020 in recognition of the important role that early-career researchers play in the life of our section and the future of our field, SAW invited a diverse group of graduate students to read and compose brief responses to Blanchette and Besky's award-winning book. This forum gathers responses by Oviya Govindan (UC Irvine), Tanya Matthan (UC Berkeley), Wythe Marshall (Harvard), Julian Gantt (CUNY), and Srishti Sood (GWU).
Our hope is that these forums will both extend the reach of scholarship that has been recognized by SAW and contribute to the intellectual exchange across career stages that has long been a hallmark of the section.
Parker Hatley is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, working across the fields of environmental and visual anthropology. He was a student representative to the board of the Society for the Anthropology of Work from 2020-2022.