The Alumni Interview: 10 Questions for Andrew Sanchez

November 21, 2018
Andrew Sanchez: Alumnus of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and Lecturer in Cambridge © Andrew Sanchez

1. When were you at the MPI and what did you work on while you were here?
I was a member of the Department ‘Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia’ between 2012 and 2014. I was one of six post-docs on a comparative project about ‘Industry and Inequality’.

2. Where do you work now?
I am Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

3. How did the time you spent at the MPI shape your current career?
Working with other post-docs forced me to sharpen my ideas. It was important that other specialists challenged me to think better at an early stage in my career. The MPI also gave me the time and resources to conduct new field research and write a monograph and several articles. I would not be in my current position if I had not done those things.  

4. When you think back on your time at the MPI, what stands out most strongly?
I met people working on issues and in areas of the world that I was previously unfamiliar with. I was also impressed by peoples’ commitment to their field sites and to the linguistic and empirical aspects of their work.

5. Do you still have connections with the MPI, and if so, what kind of contact and with whom?
I have just published a book with one of my MPI project leaders (Catherine Alexander). I have also recently edited a special issue that includes a paper by one former MPI colleague (Dina Makram-Ebeid) and a co-authored paper with another (Eeva Kesküla). Chris Hann is also in Cambridge quite frequently as part of the Max-Cam project.

6. What is your current research topic?
I am beginning new research about the politics of uncertainty among the British working class. I am also still writing papers about work and value based on my MPI research project.  

7. What are your plans for the future?
In a few years I would like to develop a project about the global economy of art crime. My wife is an anthropologist of art, and we want to do this together.

8. Why did you become an anthropologist?
I wanted to figure out how the world worked, specifically the bits of it created by humans.

9. What advice would you give to students studying social anthropology today?
Don’t do your work to impress other people, and don’t try to force your work into intellectual schools and fashions.

10. What text – whether a book or article – have you read recently that particularly impressed you?

•    Faye Harrison ‘Theorizing in ex-centric sites’ (2016), published in Anthropological Theory 16 (2-3).

•    Ivan Rajković ‘For an Anthropology of the Demoralized’ (2018), published in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 24(1).

•    Theodoros Rakopoulos & Knut Rio special issue on the anthropology of wealth (2018), published in History & Anthropology 29(3).

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