Elana Shever is a cultural anthropologist with interests in natural resources and materiality; science, technology and corporations in society; neoliberalism; globalization; and capitalism. She has conducted research in Argentina, Colombia, and the United States.
Dr. Shever's first book, Resources for Reform: Oil and Neoliberalism in Argentina (Stanford University Press, 2012) explores how people’s lives intersect with the increasingly globalized and concentrated oil industry through a close look at Argentina’s experiment with privatizing its national oil company in the name of neoliberal reform. Examining Argentina’s conversion of its state-controlled oil market to a private market, the book reveals interconnections between large-scale transformations in society and small-scale shifts in everyday practice, intimate relationships, and identity. It offers a window into the experiences of middle-class oil workers and their families, impoverished residents of shanty settlements bordering refineries, and affluent employees of transnational corporations as they struggle with rapid changes in the global economy, their country, and their lives. Resources for Reform reverberates far beyond the Argentine oil fields and offers a fresh approach to the critical study of neoliberalism, kinship, citizenship, and corporations.
This study has led to Dr. Shever's continued involvement in developing the critical ethnography of corporations, exemplified by her contribution to the International Encyclopedia of Anthropology.
Dr. Shever's current book project, Finding Our Beasts: People, Dinosaurs and Science in the American West, examines how people’s encounters with prehistoric creatures incite them to reassess human exceptionalism and their own place in the evolution of life on earth. This rethinking occurs, for instance, when someone who regards dinosaurs as exotic beasts holds an Edmontosaurus vertebra the same shape as their own and sees their common animality. Through such experiences, people question the dichotomy between humans and animals inherited from the European tradition. Dinosaurs further prompt people to ask whether kinship, sex, race, and species are natural or cultural categories; whether violence and competition are innate behaviors; and whether evolution equates with progress. Close examination of the interactions between people and prehistoric animal-objects reveals that the meanings and values of humanity, animality and materiality are not determined by people alone, but created through intimate yet power-laden relations among humans and matter.
- AB, Brown University, 1999
- MA (2001), PhD (2008), University of California at Berkeley
Resources for Reform: Oil and Neoliberalism in Argentina, Stanford University Press, 2012.
The book has been reviewed in:
- Anthropology of this Century
- American Ethnologist
- American Anthropologist
- Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
- Hispanic American Historical Review
Peer-Reviewed Articles and Chapters
“Transnational and Multinational Corporations,” The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Hilary Callan, Ed. Oxford, England: John Wiley and Sons, 2018.
“‘I am a Petroleum Product’: Making Kinship Work on the Patagonian Frontier,” Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistence of Kinship, Susan McKinnon and Fenella Cannell, Eds. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, 2013.
"Engendering the Company: Corporate Personhood and the 'Face' of an Oil Company in Metropolitan Buenos Aires," Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 2010, 33(1).
"Neoliberal Associations: Property, Company and Family in the Argentine Oil Fields," American Ethnologist, 2008, 35(4).
Review of Living with Oil: Promises, Peaks, and Declines on Mexico's Gulf Coast. Lisa Breglia. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013. American Ethnologist, 41(3):598-99, 2014.
"When the State Takes Stock," The Huffington Post, May 4, 2012.
"Adeline Cohnfelt Lust." Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Paula E. Hyman and Deborah D. Moore, eds. p. 880. New York, NY: Routledge, 1998.
- University of Rochester Humanities Center External Fellowship, 2016-2017
- Brown University Watson Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008-2009
- David M. Schneider Paper Prize, American Anthropological Association, 2007
- Phi Beta Kappa of Northern California Dissertation Fellowship, 2006
- University of California, Berkeley Human Rights Center Fellowship, 2006
- Fulbright Fellowship for Research in Argentina, 2005
- University of California, Berkeley Dissertation Research Award, 2005
- Center for Latin American Studies Tinker Research Grant, 2002
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2000
- Regents of the University of California Pre-Dissertation Humanities Fellowship, 2000
- Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies (declined), 2000
See the course offerings website for current courses.
Courses Taught at Colgate University
- Culture, Diversity and Inequality (ANTH 102)
- Communities and Identities: Argentina (CORE 164)
- Investigating Contemporary Culture (ANTH 211)
- Nature, Culture, Politics (ANTH/SOCI 245)
- Science and Technology in Society (ANTH 305)
- Corporations and Power (ANTH 339)
- Globalization and Social Change in Latin America (ANTH/ALST 363)
- Individual Honors Research (ANTH 495)