Some friends and I are working on a series of books titled Anthropology for Kids. Each book will contain different ways of relating to a major human question – what Dostoevsky called “cursed questions” – such as death, family, love, state, money, war and so on.

The books will contain and expatiate on, in very short texts, topics on each of the issues. Each topic will also be illustrated with photographs. Each book will have an introduction and a list of references at the end. It will also be translated into at least five languages (but we have plans to expand to up to 20), and we are going to run a website which we hope can facilitate discussions about the topics.

As part of the book production process, we are also going to publish interviews with academics and researcher/activists.

Our project is an attempt to make knowledge generated by academic anthropologists available to a wider international audience, not just to children, but also to as many non-academic adults as possible.

Below is an example of the sorts of things we are thinking of. It is on a book on Labour that we just started working on. We would appreciate your thoughts on it in general, plus your suggestions on the topics/subheadings, the texts they should contain, references, and people to interview.

We look forward to your thoughts.


  • What is labor? (an introduction)

  • Forced Labour (slavery in ancient Greece)

  • Proletarians in Ancient Rome (as producers of offsprings)

  • Peasants in Ancient China (sometimes collective work)

  • Medieval monks (working, despite vow of poverty)

  • Labor and work without expectation of payment

  • Reproductive labor (women and labor)

  • Child labour (with examples)

  • Organising workers (labour unions)

  • Leisure as work (professional sportsmen, for instance)

  • Globalisation and labor (the free movement of capital but not labor)

  • Work that one pays to get (internships that are auctioned, for instance)

  • Precarity of modern work (reskilling, deskilling)

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Comment by Nika Dubrovsky on September 4, 2013 at 9:22pm

Thank you very much for your comment!
Indeed, "unemployment" is a very interesting concept! In Berlin, where I currently live, the status of

"unemployed" is often a permanent social status, something stable and that does not necessarily have a strong stigma attached to it (in the searching social class). At the same time, in the USA to be unemployed is strongly socially stigmatised, to say the least. In Russia it is just not possible as it is very difficult to survive without some form of employment. Also, the old aristocrats of the rentier class are not considered to be employed, even though they in effect are. 

In the Soviet Union, where I was born – to be unemployed was criminal offence. For instance, Nobel Laureate in Literature Joseph Alexander Brodsky was sent to several years settlement for being "unemployed."

Comment by Alex Tudose on September 4, 2013 at 11:48am

Hi, Nika!
I recently started reading "Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment" by Larry Wolff. The first half of the book is mainly comprised of high profile travelers' accounts (ambassadors and the like) about "Eastern Europeans" a.k.a. Russians, Moldavians, Ukrainians etc. who try to recreate the image of the eastern-European "Other" through stories and anecdotes revealing a cultural construction attempt.
Apart from the political implications they are full of references about subjects like slavery (serfs), all kinds of  abuse (including sexual). I think children should learn all about it :) You could consult the book for inspiration.
Also, I'd like to suggest you also give them (as much as possible, you've started a difficult task) a down-to-earth basic legal perspective (what's a contract, what does unemployment mean) as we can no longer afford to have people living in fairy tales.
You should also add something about Immaterial Labor (try this article by Maurizio Lazzaratto).
If I think about anything else I'll let you know. Good luck!

Comment by Keith Hart on August 19, 2013 at 10:35pm

This is a great project, Nika, and a wonderful vehicle for cooperation, a rare thing here at the OAC. I hope you attract the interest you deserve.


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