Dr. Erin B Taylor
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.
Erin has contributed to the following tomes:
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.’
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?
Godfathers, monsters, baseball and bowling: Mass-market movies can tell us a lot about ourselves in cross-cultural context.
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.
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.
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.
People: can’t live with them, can’t taser them. How do you create personal space in the city?
Do you feel threatened by strangers, or are you happy to urinate next to them? Your attitude might depend on your country of origin.
Why do we say that we ‘feel up’ when we feel happy, but when we are sad we ‘feel down’? Metaphors we live by.
Smoking pot in the name of Jah might not actually that different to drinking wine for Jesus.
Is Wall Street motivated solely by greed, or do its bankers have humanity’s interests at heart?
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.
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.
Why the earthquake was so catastrophic and describes the efforts of Haitians and the international community to ‘build back better’.