Patrick James


Greenville, N.C.


B.A. in Anthropology, Minor in Southern Studies, University Honors, Appalachian State University


Sociocultural anthropology, Venezuela, coasts and maritime life, Anthropocene studies, violence, phenomenology, affect, fictocriticism.


During my undergraduate training, I participated in an ethnographic field school that ran from Quito Ecuador to the Napo province, in the upper Amazon basin. Following my time in Ecuador, I became interested in the anthropology of experience, and the local effects of anthropogenic forces, both climatic and political-economic. When I returned to university, I took a course called the Anthropology of Violence. In this course, I began reading theory that interrogates structural violence, and the politics of ethnographic writing and representation. Just as the forces of capitalism create ecological precarity in the Anthropocene, certain forms of academic writing also have a potential for violence, which occurs when subjects of study become textual objects, and when the richness and ineffability of everyday life is diminished through ordering. These lines of inquiry culminated in a University honors thesis in which I explored forms of writing that resist and endeavor to undo western-centric research traditions, which ultimately underpin processes of ecological and cultural devastation. These forms of writing include speculative fiction and ethnography, and fictocriticism.

In the MALAS program, I hope to build from my theoretical background and passion for writing, improve my Spanish, and pursue an ethnographic project on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, where the political and economic challenges of contemporary life are most salient. This project will focus on local experiences of the combined forces of political turmoil and climate disaster, especially as they are felt in local fishing economies. Specifically, I’m interested in discursive and material efforts to cope and improvise in the face of trauma and instability.