Ethnographic Frontiers: Of Things, Places, and Animals


  • Nayantara Sheoran Appleton Victoria University of Wellington



auto-ethnography, ethnographic frontiers, human-animal research, outer space research.


The frontier, in western imaginary, is the paradoxical space of romantic conquest and simultaneously unbridled dangers. It serves both to showcase the potentialities of futures that can be created and also the inherent dangers present in those spaces that are yet to be conquered. The frontier is uncharted territory for some, but also relinquished territory for others. The frontier marks movement – forward and backward – for differently positioned peoples. The frontier is never static but rather a constantly moving space both figurative and literal that asks us to participate in its making and unmaking. Drawing on the concept of ethnographic frontiers, the three books reviewed are: Elizabeth Chin’s My Life with Things: The Consumer Diaries (Chin 2016); Lindsay Hamilton and Nik Taylor’s Ethnography After Humanism: Power, Politics, and Methods in Multi-Species Research (Hamilton and Taylor 2017); and Lisa Messeri’s Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds (Messeri 2016).

Author Biography

Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, Victoria University of Wellington

Nayantara Sheoran Appleton is a Lecture in the cultural anthropology program at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research and teaching interests fall in the fields of anthropology (medical, feminist, and visual), cultural studies, feminist theories, and Science and Technology Studies. She is currently working on a book manuscript, which seeks to critically analyze the implications of shifts in the politics of health and reproduction in liberalized India by focusing particularly on pharmaceutical contraceptives and their marketing to women (and men) within neo-liberal and neo-Malthusian frameworks. Her second project, which was part of her post-doctoral research, extends her engagement with bio-medically promoted regenerative medicine and burgeoning biotechnologies. In particular, she is interested in the ‘ethics of governance, and governance of ethics’ around stem cell research and therapies in India. Having worked in medical spaces, she’s interested in how anthropological methodologies are employed by social-scientists to generate data and a robust understanding of the culture(s) of contemporary medical sciences.




How to Cite

Appleton, N. S. (2018). Ethnographic Frontiers: Of Things, Places, and Animals. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 15(2).



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