Erin B. Taylor
Ph.D. (University of Sydney)
Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Instituto de Ciências Sociais, University of Lisbon
Research Fellow, Digital Ethnography Research Centre
PopAnth Author, Editor, Founding Member
Dr. Erin B. Taylor is an anthropologist with a background in fine art. She defected to anthropology when she realised that she was far better at deploying a pen for writing than for drawing. She is currently living in Lisbon, Portugal, where she has a full-time research position at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais (ICS).
Erin is the author of Materializing Poverty: How the Poor Transform their Lives. The book explores how residents of a squatter settlement in Santo Domingo use their material resources creatively to solve everyday problems and, over a few decades, radically transform the community in which they live. Their struggles show how it is these everyday engagements with materiality, rather than more dramatic efforts, that generate social change and build futures. She is also the editor of Fieldwork Identities in the Caribbean, a book that explores what it’s really like to do fieldwork in faraway places.
Erin received her PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Sydney, Australia, in June 2009. She conducted her fieldwork in a squatter settlement in Santo Domingo, writing her thesis on the relationship between poverty and residents’ use of material things, including the houses and communities in which they live.
Since then, Erin been working on two concurrent projects. Her research at the ICS examines relations between people living on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She is interested in how residents of either side of the border view each other as similar to or different from each other, and the effects of history, culture and economy on their perspectives.
Erin’s other project is a collaborative investigation of mobile phones and money practices in Haiti. The project, called ‘Mobiles, Migrants and Money: A Study of Mobility in Haiti and the Dominican Republic is funded by the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) at the University of California, Irvine. Some objects from the research are currently on display in the Citi Money Gallery in the British Museum.
Apart from being an editor and author for PopAnth, Erin blogs regularly on her website.
Poverty is generally defined as a lack of material resources. However, the relationships that poor people have with their possessions are not just about deprivation. Material things play a positive role in the lives of poor people: they help people to build social relationships, address inequalities, and fulfill emotional needs. In Materializing …
What is it really like to do fieldwork? Answers to this question are as diverse as the researchers and the field sites they choose. Anthropologists no longer fit the stereotype of white Westerners going to exotic places to study people very different from themselves. Rather, anthropologists now come from a variety of backgrounds, and their identities are complicated, even to them. This book …
"Local Lives" contests dominant trends in migration theory, demonstrating that many migrant identities have not become entirely diasporic or cosmopolitan, but remain equally focused on emplaced belonging and the anxieties of being uprooted. By addressing the question of how migrants legally and symbolically lay claim to owning and belonging to place, it refocuses our attention on the …
Archaeologists and anthropologists have long studied artifacts of refuse from the distant past as a portal into ancient civilizations, but examining what we throw away today tells a story in real time and becomes an important and useful tool for academic study. Trash is studied by behavioral scientists who use data compiled from the exploration of dumpsters to better understand our modern …
"With all entries followed by cross-references and further reading lists, this current resource is ideal for high school and college students looking for connecting ideas and additional sources on them. The work brings together the many facets of global studies into a solid reference tool and will help those developing and articulating an ideological perspective." — Library …
What do the things you carry say about you?
Ask someone to tip the contents of their bags onto the table. What do you see? The results can be surprising. The things people carry say a lot about their society and culture, as well as their finances and personal preferences.Read on »
Dealing in multiple currencies can be confusing. What happens when one of them is imaginary?Read on »
Calm down and cheer up
Why do we say that we 'feel up' when we feel happy, but when we are sad we 'feel down'? Metaphors we live by.Read on »
Who are you calling fundamentalist? Inside Rastafarianism
Smoking pot in the name of Jah might not actually be that different to drinking wine for Jesus.Read on »
Hug, hit or ignore? Cultural differences in dealing with strangers
Do you feel threatened by strangers, or are you happy to urinate next to them? Your attitude might depend on your country of origin.Read on »
Alone in the city
People: can't live with them, can't taser them. How do you create personal space in the city?Read on »
Greed is good
Don't bother feeling guilty, your mass consumption at Christmas is part of what makes you a moral person. Why greed is good for humanity in all times and places.Read on »
Humans of SoCal's wineries
Studying the wine industry seems like a sweet job. But anthropologist Kevin Yelvington went beyond wine tasting and worked alongside labourers in the vineyards. What did he discover?Read on »
What do Eurovision, sport, and ritual warfare have in common?
Giant hamster wheels. Drag. Key changes, peasant costumes, and voting blocs. Sometimes it seems that the Eurovision Song Contest is about anything but the music. So what's going on?Read on »
Missionaries, mercenaries, and misfits
According to one Catholic priest, foreigners in Haiti can be classified into three types: missionaries, mercenaries, and misfits. Whether you come to Haiti with good or bad intentions, the end result is often the same: trouble.Read on »
If the home team always wins, is it really sport?
Cricket in the Trobriand Islands is different. There's no limit to how many people can be in a team, players dress up in traditional costume, and the home team always wins. So, is it really a sport?Read on »
Ten things I've learned about the Portuguese
Portuguese people insist that they are not at all like the Spanish: neither in food, language, nor behaviour. Is this true? If so, what makes them distinctive?Read on »
An anthropologist's guide to choosing an engagement ring
You might be surprised to realise how much your engagement ring actually conveys: it's far more than a signal of love and a promise to get married sometime down the track.Read on »
Allison Truitt's "Dreaming of Money in Ho Chi Minh City" demonstrates how money impacts our lives in ways that are cultural, and personal, as well as economic.Read on »
Why the earthquake was so catastrophic and describes the efforts of Haitians and the international community to "build back better."Read on »
The cultural bases of curious English behaviours, such as their obsession with the weather, their talent for queuing, why they invented so many games, and how their social class system is maintained.Read on »
In this age of mass consumption and global trade, we have an amazing personal freedom to choose — but our choices are still always social acts.Read on »
Is Wall Street motivated solely by greed, or do its bankers have humanity's interests at heart?Read on »
Is being Irish really all about shamrocks, drinking fifteen pints of Guinness and telling tall tales? A review of David Slattery's comedic, yet culturally nuanced, account of life in the Emerald Isles.Read on »
Think you know yourself? You might be surprised how much you've been shaped by the previous generation. Review of 'Boom! A Baby Boomer Memoir, 1947-2022', by Ted Polhemus.Read on »
Godfathers, monsters, baseball and bowling: Mass-market movies can tell us a lot about ourselves in cross-cultural context.Read on »
Do we really have a moral obligation to pay our debts? According to anthropologist David Graeber, the answer to this question is a resounding 'no.'Read on »
Modern life has brought many benefits to humanity as a result of discoveries in medicine and technology. But do we do everything better than our ancestors who lived in tiny groups?Read on »
Sarah Parcak describes how her team used satellite data to find an ancient Egyptian city that has been missing for thousands of years. It was ancient Egypt's capital and was a centre of art, architecture and religion.Read on »
Forget your heart — it's your brain that takes you to the heights of romantic love and causes you to crash when it fails. In this TED talk, Helen Fisher describes what happens inside our brain when we are in love.Read on »