Associate Professor, International and Comparative Labor & Labor Relations, Law, and History, Cornell University
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Sarah Besky is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Departments of International and Comparative Labor & Labor Relations, Law, and History in the ILR School at Cornell University. Her research uses ethnographic and historical methods to study the intersection of labor, environment, and capitalism in the Himalayas. Her work analyzes how materials and bodies take on value under changing political economic regimes and explores the diverse forms of labor that make and maintain that value. Her first book, "The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India" (University of California Press, 2014) explores how legacies of colonialism intersect with contemporary market reforms to reconfigure notions of the value of labor, of place, and of tea itself. Her second book, "Tasting Qualities: The Past and Future of Tea" (University of California Press, 2020) blends historical and ethnographic research on science, value, and the idea of quality in the tea industry to analyze efforts at economic reform in India. Another book, "How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet" (SAR Press, 2019), a volume co-edited with Alex Blanchette, brings together contemporary theoretical conversations in posthumanism with classic and continually relevant questions about political economy, precarity, and the meanings of work.