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Marcel LaFlamme 
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I am presently writing a dissertation based on fourteen months of fieldwork with unmanned pilot trainees in the state of North Dakota, which was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. My research centers intimate processes of enskillment and professionalization in order to render the unmanned aircraft or drone as a site at which work is being reimagined. This work, I show, is not necessarily the work of war, although the training spaces to which I gained access did prove to be fertile ground for theorizing the interrelation of civilian and military worlds.

My dissertation project grows out of a broader commitment to the American Great Plains, that expanse of flyover country at once central and (too often) peripheral to anthropologies of the United States. I am particularly interested in how the region’s identification with agricultural production occludes earlier histories of resource extraction as well as emerging labor regimes. I am currently seeking collaborators for a comparative and possibly transnational project on the status of the municipality as political form.

I also serve as managing editor for the journal Cultural Anthropology, a peer-reviewed and open-access publication of the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Before arriving at Rice, I earned a Master’s in library and information science at Simmons College and served as the library director for a community college in rural southeast Kansas.

Summary/Research Interests

Anthropology of work; science and technology studies; critical military studies; perception and the senses; antiwork politics; nonwork and leisure; gender and sexuality; demography as object and method; aerial environments; the American Great Plains.