Export processing zones and global class formation
Authors: Neveling, P.
Anthropologists are renown for studying small places. Even though the discipline’s focus has extended well beyond the remote and fairly self-contained villages that were its characteristic subject matter through most of the twentieth century, a concern with the local remains an important part of the way that anthropologists approach the world. This orientation brings benefits to anthropologists and to those who study their works, but it also brings costs. In particular, that concern with the local often diverts attention from the broader frame that encompasses the locality. Even anthropologists who have studied the local in terms of that frame commonly focus on the relationship between the local and the frame, rather than seeing the frame as part of their understanding of those small places (e.g. Comaroff and Comaroff 2001; Ong 2006). Equally, that concern often is accompanied by an inattention to things that are not apparent from the local perspective. So, a focus on the local can accommodate slum dwellers in Mumbai or workers in a Bangalore call center, but not the places where their broader frame is shaped, such as a working group within the World Bank or a conference attracting international investors. As a result, anthropological descriptions and analyses of these small places commonly are partial, or even flawed, as they omit important factors affecting the local.