Livia Stone on Contested Walls And Natural Forces

In this episode, we talk with Livia Stone, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University. Livia, together with archaeologist Abigail C. Stone from Washington University in St. Louis, coauthored the photo essay “As Fluid as a Brick Wall,” which Cultural Anthropology published in 2014.

While the written portion of the essay came about as a conversation between Livia and Abigail Stone about what the physical, visual evidence that people leave behind can tell us about peoples’ particular lives and human beings in general. The visual portion of the essay is the result of Livia’s fascination with the surfaces of Oaxaca de Juarez’s walls, where she conducted ethnographic research in 2009.

For this piece, Liv was primarily interested in the everydayness of the wall surfaces, and saying something about the specific political situation and the power dynamics in Oaxaca.

Central to the conversation is how the painting and repainting of the walls of Oaxaca draws attention to the degree to which the conception of private property is a historically, socially, and culturally constructed idea that benefits particular people, and how this idea is challenged in its interaction with the natural forces.

AnthroPod recommends that our listeners view the photo essay, in the visual order of the photos, before listening to this episode. The Photo Essays section form part of Cultural Anthropology’s efforts to broaden its publishing efforts beyond traditional forms of text-based anthropological analysis.

Ea Arnoldi spoke with Liv Stone about the photo essay she produced with Abigail and her broader research over a Skype connection between the United States and Denmark.


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Music: Sweeter Vermouth by Kevin MacLeod