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Dr Harry Walker


Harry WalkerHarry Walker conducts research in the anthropology of lowland South America. He has carried out long-term fieldwork with the Urarina, a hunting and horticultural people of Amazonian Peru. His recent monograph addresses the shared or accompanied nature of human existence, and explores the pervasive tension in Amazonian societies between a cultural prioritisation of individual autonomy and uniqueness, and an equally strong sense that satisfaction and self-realisation only come through relations with others. It brings together considerations of child care and socialisation, relations with non-humans, and concepts of power, in order to show how agency and a sense of self emerge through everyday practices involving the cultivation of intimate but asymmetrical relationships of nurturance and dependency.
Dr Walker has also written on debt and exchange, gendered dimensions of consumption and modernity, kinship, language ideologies, happiness, and materiality, including the extension of agency and the body by material artefacts. His most recent research focuses on how Amazonian peoples such as the Urarina negotiate their complex and often indirect relationship to the State and its techniques, procedures and institutions, and how these engagements are shaping social transformations. Examples include the role of organised team sports such as football in promoting new ideas of discipline, order, and national belonging; the uses made of writing and official documents; and appropriations of formal law and concepts of justice.

Selected publications:

2013. State of Play: The Political Ontology of Sport in Amazonian Peru|. American Ethnologist 40(2):382-398.

2013. Wild Things: Manufacturing Desire in the Urarina Moral Economy|Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 18(1):51-66.

2013. Under a Watchful Eye: Self, Power, and Intimacy in Amazonia|. Berkeley:University of California Press.

2012. On Anarchist Anthropology.| Anthropology of This Century, Issue 3.

2012. Demonic Trade: Debt, Materiality and Agency in Amazonia|Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1):140-159

2011. A Problem With Words|. Anthropology Of This Century, Issue 1

2010. Soulful Voices: Birds, Language and Prophecy in Amazonia|Tipití:Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 8(1)

2009. Transformations of Urarina Kinship.| Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford-online 1(1):52-69

 2009. Baby Hammocks and Stone Bowls: Urarina Technologies of Companionship and Subjection.| In F. Santos Granero (ed.) The Occult Life of Things: Native Amazonian Theories of Materiality and Personhood, pp.81-102. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.