About Sam Shuman
I am a PhD candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology and a certificate student in Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.
As an anthropologist of religion, ethics, and economy, my work lies at the interstices of Anthropology, Jewish Studies, and Critical Theory. My research explores the reorganization of modern political economies and the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion within contemporary supply-chains from the vantage point of trade diasporas. These trading networks have long circulated goods, people, and ideas across vast distances of land and sea, often relying upon both networks of kin strewn across the diaspora and strangers from foreign religious and ethnic backgrounds to conduct transactions. My work examines how regulation and technological transformations within the diamond supply-chain are disrupting and reshaping the lives of trade diasporas, which historically organized their transnational kinship structures, livelihoods, and moral systems around the diamond industry.
The center of my research has primarily focused over the past seven years on Antwerp, a significant trading and manufacturing center of the diamond industry and port-city in the history of global Capitalism. While largely displaced by the rise of trading and manufacturing nodes in India and United Arab Emirates, Antwerp now seeks to rebrand itself as the diamond capital of the world. Rather than nostalgically mourning Antwerp’s position within the diamond industry and the livelihoods it once supported, as yet another site of post-industrial failure or ruination in an age of globalization, my dissertation explores the productivity of its “displacement.” Moving across multiple spatial and temporal scales, each chapter of the dissertation opens to a different site of displacement: of people and objects, cities and livelihoods, accusations and insecurities.
Research & Collaboration
Transparency Working Group
Solidarity & Religion
I serve as an advisor for a FWO (Research Foundation Flanders) grant entitled "Solidarity and Religion (SOLIGION): Co-creating complementary forms of social support across faith-based organisations and secular welfare state institutions,” a 4-year, interdisciplinary research initiative co-sponsored by the University of Antwerp, KU-Leuven, and Ghent University. This research grant will examine how religious and secular forms of solidarity operate in post-secular welfare cities.
I am invovled with a transnational working group connected to a Swiss National Science Foundation grant, “Transparency: Qualities and Technologies of Global Gemstone Trading” (hosted by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding in collaboration with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva). Texts were pre-circulated and edited by participants during a writing workshop in Geneva, Switzerland. Final texts will be published in a forthcoming volume on the Anthropology of Transparency.