Society for the Anthropology of North America
Oral Presentation Session
How can the tradition of political economy within the study of Anthropology guide our study of the carceral state? This paper first outlines a brief genealogy of the uses and theorizations of Marxist political economy in anthropology, including the work of Mintz, Mullings, and Roseberry. Then, using Marx’s idea from the 18th Brumaire that people “make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past,” I argue that the doing anthropology in the tradition of political economy is crucial to understanding anthropologies of the carceral state. Based on fieldwork in upstate New York, I analyze the raced and classed ways that prison guards make their history in and through the carceral state.