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Contact Info:
Tufts University
Department of Anthropology
309 Eaton Hall
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617.627.2802
Email

Alex Blanchette
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Degrees
Ph.D. The University of Chicago, 2013
M.A. The University of Chicago, 2008
B.A. The University of Toronto, 2004

Expertise
Industrial agriculture, animal studies, ethnography of labor, food studies, United States

Major Awards

  • Advanced Seminar at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe NM (2016)
  • Ciriacy-Wantrup Visiting Scholar Fellowship in Geography, The University of California, Berkeley (2015-2016)
  • Richard Saller Prize for best dissertation in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago (2013-2014)
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation Engaged Anthropology Grant, (2013)
  • Weatherhead Fellowship, School For Advanced Research, Santa Fe (2012-2013)
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2010)
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (2009-2010)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship (2006-2009)

Scholarship & Research
My current research projects are concerned with capitalist natures and the industrialization of labor and life in an allegedly post-industrial United States. My book-in-progress, provisionally titled Porkopolis: Standardized Life, American Animality, and the "Factory" Farm, is situated in the workplaces and wake of some of the world’s largest integrated meat corporations, which annually produce 7,000,000 animals in a 100-mile radius region of the Great Plains. On the one hand, the book is a microscopic examination of the cultural politics of bio-industrialization as labor inheres in the fissures of the porcine species—for example, in the pig’s reproductive instincts, its growth ratios, or its fat. On the other, it is an expansive ethnographic portrait of forms of imaginative totalization that underlie the making of the modern hog across every moment of its existence from pre-life to post-death. Moving from genetics facilities to slaughterhouses to bone-processing factories, Porkopolis depicts how the industrial hog is the product of an ongoing struggle over the state of American animality—including that of the human animal—with wide-ranging consequences for rural community, ecology, and agriculture.

I am also in the early stages of a collaborative photographic exhibition on sensing animal proximities and industrial life, partly tied to this project. My future research continues to develop parallel lines of sight and argumentation. One planned public anthropology project is a broad history of "manual" labor, working-class embodiment, and sensory memory that is anchored by an ethnography of craft in the United States’ last remaining leather tanneries. Another developing project is an ethnography of animal-derived gelatin, a substance that is invisibly omnipresent around the world.