London School of Economics and Political Science
Term: July 19, 2017 – July 18, 2020
Harry Walker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His publications on the Urarina people of Amazonian Peru explore topics ranging from local appropriations of law, sport and bureaucratic writing to happiness, intimacy and early child care. He is currently leading a 5-year collaborative research project on ideas and practices of justice in Amazonia and beyond, paying particular attention to the ways in which concepts of fairness and responsibility, and moral emotions such as compassion or guilt, are shaped by culture and history.
An interest in the construction of personal identity through interpersonal and political processes also informs recent research on the construction and dissolution of subjectivity in shamanic ritual; the cultivation and recognition of individuality as an ethical project and component of the good life; and the relationship between formal and informal processes of moral learning in childhood. At the same time, the rapid transformations currently taking place throughout Amazonia, drawing indigenous peoples ever further into the ambit of the state and the market economy, highlight the need for new analytical approaches that are especially sensitive to the temporal dimensions of social phenomena such as these, and open up important questions concerning the anthropological interpretation of social change. Harry has thus sought to show how debt peonage and manufactured goods are understood in relation to shamanic forms of agency and gender ideologies; how engagements with writing and official documents build on implicit ideas about speech and the authoritative voice; how formal law penetrates everyday social life by tapping into peoples’ interests in ritualised violent revenge; and how popular team sports such as football introduce new political concepts, such as formal equality and the social role, while paradoxically paving the way for increased competition and ultimately new forms of hierarchy.
Institutional webpage: http://www.lse.ac.uk/anthropology/people/harry-walker