A Lesson in Class: the working-class experience of Anthropology

  • Chloe Dominique University College London


This paper focusses on socio-economic class structures, as they relate to the study and practice of anthropology. More specifically, it discusses the ways that working-class or financially precarious anthropologists (students, researchers and teachers) negotiate tensions found within the British university. It is concerned with the current climate of ‘diversity’ in education, and the role that socio-economic inequity plays in these discussions. This paper seeks to make room for class; it asks what we can learn from giving voice to the insidious silence that plagues it, in a context of neoliberal identity politics (Wrenn, 2014), ensuing ethnicist diversity practices (Brah, 1991), and what I would call ‘cursory diversity’ - what Sara Ahmed refers to as a ‘hopeful performative’ (2010, p.200). It is argued that anthropology as a discipline must start attending to the ways that financial precarity and social class impact the subjects that study, not just the subjects of study, by reflecting on the venacularity of the academy and the discipline itself. It achieves this through exploring the vernacularity of the working-class anthropologists’ experiences in relation to the prism of ‘diversity’; how class refracts to produce multiple forms of experience, of assimilation, and of exclusion - as well as resistance to such enclosure.