What are Marxists to make of the new wave of materialism that has become
influential in anthropology and across the social sciences and humanities?
An ethnography of fishing in coastal Scotland and an analysis of Tim Ingold’s ecological
anthropology demonstrates both the usefulness and gaps in contemporary
ecological and materialist anthropology. It finds that the reduced role for political
economy, human intentionality, and material results in this literature significantly
reduces their explanatory power. Efforts to unite analysis of humans and nonhumans
have led to a lack of attention to the divisions within human societies, particularly
the alienation of labor and therefore of ecological relations in capitalism.
Understanding these dynamics is essential to contending with the current planetary