I have done fieldwork in the Dominican Republic, the United States, and Colombia, and my research interests are centred upon understanding forms of power and violence, contemporary political and economic life, resource politics, processes of migration, commerce and labour, forms of masculinity, and history. My most recent book is Jobless Growth in the Dominican Republic: Disorganization, Precarity, and Livelihoods, which is published by Stanford University Press in the spring of 2022. The book discusses, and seeks to tackle, the more general challenges that the phenomena of jobless growth and "no (wage) labour" futures raise for political-economic analysis. The Dominican Republic has posted impressive economic growth rates over the past 25-30 years. In spite of this, the generation of new, good jobs has been remarkably weak. How have ordinary and poor Dominicans worked and lived in the shadow of the country's conspicuous growth rates? In this book, I consider this question through an ethnographic exploration of the popular economy in the Dominican capital. The study focuses especially on precarious small businesses and forms of petty trade and self-employment, in particular the city's many small furniture manufacturing businesses, food stalls, small barrio or street-corner stores, and savings and credit cooperatives. It shows how people make a living, what characterizes their work, how they tackle market shifts, long blackouts, and lasting unpredictability, and what characterizes their relationship to the state and a pervasive, almost omnipresent corruption. Throughout the analyses, I am concerned with a broader question: How do we best investigate and understand popular economies in the many large cityscapes that, over the course of the last decades, have emerged in the Global South? I underscore the need for two basic ideas or premises. First, I emphasize that we still need to have a strong interest in labour and the labour concept -- in spite of the picture of the labour market, or the lack of "proper jobs", that the book outlines. Second, I argue that we need empirical, grounded examinations of the articulations between labour and time. Why so? Popular economic activities are thoroughly precarious. The basic condition is shot through with vulnerability and uncertainty. Much of this has precisely to do with agents' encounters with and experiences of social time -- with their experiences of the diversity and clashes among economic, political and bureaucratic rhythms. In brief, even though the book is focused on urban life in the Dominican Republic (with some minor engagement with its extension to New York), it is an exegesis of the general condition of late capitalism in the Global South (and increasingly in the Global North as well).
I am currently developing new research. At the same time, I continue to work on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Latin American and Caribbean studies.
I am member of the advisory board of Ethnos, and was from 2008 to 2012 editor of Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift (The Journal of the Norwegian Association of Social Anthropologists). I am member of the Department's board and of the board of the University of Oslo's Centre for Development and the Environment. From 2011 to 2014, I was the Department's Vice Chair and Head of the doctoral program. I have been a visiting researcher at the University of Chicago (in 2015-2016); at the University of Michigan (in 2005); at Queens College, City University of New York (in 2002); and at Johns Hopkins University (in 1994).
Thematic: Power and violence, social hierarchies, anthropology and history, urban ethnography, the state, environmental politics, economic life, globalization, migration, ideas about race
Regional: Caribbean studies, Latin America, The Dominican Republic, New York
2022 Jobless Growth in the Dominican Republic: Disorganization, Precarity, and Livelihoods. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
2019 Anthropos and the Material, co-edited with Penny Harvey and Knut G. Nustad. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
2018 Dislocating Labour: Anthropological Reconfigurations, co-edited with Penny Harvey. Special Issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 24, S1, 2018 (also available as a stand alone book from Wiley here ).
2013 Making New York Dominican: Small Business, Politics, and Everyday Life. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
2009 Political Authoritarianism in the Dominican Republic. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan.
2005 State Formation: Anthropological Perspectives, co-edited with Knut G. Nustad. London: Pluto Press.
2001 Det vanskelige voldsbegrepet. Politisk liv i Den dominikanske republikk og andre steder (“The Difficult Concept of Violence: Political Life in the Dominican Republic and Other Locations” - a book in Norwegian on the anthropology of political life). Oslo: Pax Forlag A/S.
Selected articles and book chapters
2019 "Introduction", co-authored with Penny Harvey and Knut G. Nustad, in Anthropos and the Material, co-edited with Harvey and Nustad. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
2019 "Contemporary Capitalism and Dominican New Yorkers' Livery-Cab Bases: A Taxi Story", in Anthropos and the Material, co-edited with Penny Harvey and Knut G. Nustad. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
2018 "Introduction. Dislocating Labour: Anthropological Reconfigurations", co-authored with Penny Harvey, in Dislocating Labour: Anthropological Reconfigurations, co-edited with Harvey, pp. 10-28. Special Issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 24, S1, 2018 (also available as a stand alone book from Wiley here )
2018 "State against Industry: Time and Labour among Dominican Furniture Makers", in Dislocating Labour: Anthropological Reconfigurations, co-edited with Penny Harvey, pp. 180-197. Special Issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 24, S1, 2018 (also available as a stand alone book from Wiley here )
2016 "The Dominican Colmado from Santo Domingo to New York", in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (latinamericanhistory.oxfordre.com/), edited by William Beezley. New York: Oxford University Press.
2015 "Political Anthropology", in International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Second Edition, edited by James D. Wright. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.
2008 REPRINT / TRANSLATION “La masculinidad y lo político entre los dominicanos: ‘El tigre dominicano’”, in Marit Melhuus and Kristi Anne Stølen (eds.) Machos, putas, santas: El poder del imaginario de género en América Latina, pp.11-133. Buenos Aires: Editorial Antropofagia. (Spanish translation of “Masculinity and the Political among Dominicans: ‘The Dominican Tiger’”, 1996)
2007 “The Understanding of Migration and the Discourse of Nationalism: Dominicans in New York City”, in Holding Worlds Together: Ethnographies of Knowing and Belonging, edited by Marianne Lien and Marit Melhuus, pp. 77-102. Oxford: Berghahn Books
2005 “Introduction”, co-authored with Knut Nustad, in State Formation: Anthropological Perspectives, co-edited with Nustad, pp. 3-26. London: Pluto Press
2005 “Negotiated Dictatorship: The Building of the Trujillo State in the Southwestern Dominican Republic”, in State Formation: Anthropological Perspectives, co-edited with Nustad, pp. 96-122. London: Pluto Press
2005 “Dominikanere i New York og forståelsen av migrasjon” (“Dominicans in New York and the Understanding of Migration”), Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift (The Journal of the Norwegian Association of Social Anthropologists), 16 (2-3): 75-84
2003 “Into Our Time: The Anthropology of Political Life in the Era of Globalization”, Globalisation. Studies in Anthropology, edited by Thomas Hylland Eriksen, pp. 78–98. London: Pluto Press
2002 “Den hegemoniske norske tenkningen om ‘oss’ og ‘de andre’. En lesning av to bøker fra Maktutredningen” (”Hegemonic Norwegian Notions of ’Us’ and ’Them’. A reading of two books from the Report on Power and Democracy in Norway.”) Agora: Journal for Metafysisk Spekulasjon (Agora: Journal of Metaphysical Speculation), 20 (3/4): 176–192
2001 "A Tomb for Columbus in Santo Domingo: Political Cosmology, Population, and Racial Frontiers", Social Anthropology, 9 (2):165–192
2000 "Makt og symbolske former: perspektiver på politikk" (“Power and Symbolic Forms: Perspectives on Politics”), chapter on political anthropology, co-authored with Halvard Vike, in: Olaf Smedal and Finn Sivert Nielsen (eds.) Mellom Himmel og Jord: Tradisjon, Tendenser og Teorier i Sosialantropologien (“Between Heaven and Earth: Tradition, Tendencies and Theories in Social Anthropology” - an introductory book on anthropology), pp. 307–343. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget
1997 "The Construction of Dominican State Power and Symbolisms of Violence", Ethnos, 62 (3-4): 49–78
1997 "The Anthropology and Ethnography of Political Violence", Review Essay, Journal of Peace Research, 34 (2): 233–240
1996 "Masculinity and the Political among Dominicans: 'The Dominican Tiger'", in M. Melhuus and K.A. Stølen (eds.) Machos, Mistresses, Madonnas. Contesting the Power of Latin American Gender Imagery, pp. 108–133. London: Verso
1995 "Magic, Money and Alterity among Dominicans", Social Anthropology, volume 3 (2): 129–146
1995 "Resistance vs. Self-Inflicted Bonds vs. Tacit Understandings: Or an Essay on Legitimacy and Political Practice in Light of Bread and Circuses and Weapons of the Weak," Dialectical Anthropology, volume 20 (1): 71–94
1994 "The Anthropology of Violent Interaction", The Journal of Anthropological Research, volume 50 (4): 367–381