The Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) is delighted to announce that How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet, edited by Sarah Besky and Alex Blanchette, is the winner of the 2021 SAW Book Prize. This edited volume, published in 2019 by SAR Press and the University of New Mexico Press as a product of the prestigious School for Advanced Research seminar series, is an impressive breakthrough in the anthropology of work. The chapters’ authors explore the boundaries between human and nonhuman 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 and 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.
SAW would also like to recognize Beyond the Algorithm: Qualitative Insights for Gig Work Regulation, edited by Deepa Das Acevedo and published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press, with an Honorable Mention. This edited volume both documents the conditions under which gig workers toil and makes the case for incorporating qualitative methods, including anthropological explorations of work, into the formulation of laws and policies that would impact gig workers. The authors deepen understanding of the experience of gig work, employing approaches from anthropology, sociology, and legal studies. The volume incorporates perspectives from both academic and nonacademic labor advocates, whose focus on labor justice continues a tradition in using research in the anthropology of work to empower workers.
The 2021 SAW Book Prize committee included SAW Past-President J.A. English-Lueck, Carrie Lane, Lauren Hayes, and 2020 SAW Book Prize winner Ieva Jusionyte.