This is an ongoing list of my academic publications. I endeavor to publish in anthropology journals as well as interdisciplinary ones, and have a number of ongoing collaborations in 2021. These include a book chapter in a Routledge volume on 'wine and the gift' with a group of leading anthropology of wine scholars, and a book project I am coordinating with two co-editors that further my focus on 'the anthropology of tax' with fifteen anthropologists at all career stages. I also have articles under review and accepted and in the process of revising with anthropology and area studies journals, and am working full time this year on my book manuscript.
Published in Social Analysis, 2020
This article stems from my longterm ethnographic fieldwork in Istria with small family business owners who have had to adjust to new laws and processes as part of Croatia joining the EU.
I researched how Istrian business owners challenged the Croatian government’s motivation for and enforcement of what was locally called "fiskalizacija", an automated VAT reform adopted in 2013 as Croatia prepared for EU membership. I argue in this paper that this mode of tax payment, and the way in which it was implemented/enforced, threatened local values and perceptions of economic agency and sowed new distrust in government.
In so doing, I show that the way in which a tax reform is put into effect, including the enforcement practices of state agents, shapes how citizens perceive the social contract to be constituted by fiscal regimes.
Smith, Robin. 2020. Contesting the social contract: Tax reform and economic governance in Istria, Croatia. Social Analysis 64(2): 79-100.
Introduction: Tax beyond the social contract
This is a co-written introduction with Nicolette Makovicky to our journal special issue forwarding the anthropology of tax as a subfield of study. The authors of the articles within this special issue decenter tax as an analytic device for understanding the relationship between state and citizen, while examining the limits of social contract thinking.
Focusing on how citizens interpret and react to state efforts to promote fiscal citizenship, the contributors shed light on contemporary fiscal structures and public debates about the moralities, practices, and imaginaries of tax systems.
They use tax to explore numerous things, including the nature of citizenship, personal freedom, and moral and economic value. They also highlight how taxation may be influenced by spaces of fiscal sovereignty that exist outside or alongside the state in the form of alternative religious and economic communities.
We are hopeful that this special issue inspires much new qualitative research on taxation.
Makovicky, Nicolette and Robin Smith. 2020. Introduction: Tax beyond the social contract. Social Analysis 64(2): 1-17.
Ambivalent solidarities: Food governance reconfigurations in Croatia and Italy
This article examines the diverse so-called "solidarity practices" of farmers and food activists in Croatia and Italy in order to highlight the unintended consequences of mutual support initiatives and how these may reinforce disengagement from governance. Each of the authors drew from our own ethnographic fieldwork to highlight the discourse and practice of morality in food procurement and the ambivalence of the concept and practice of solidarity.
We challenge the top‐down regulatory governance of food systems. In the Croatian example (mine), farmers organize forms of economic and logistic mutual support to bypass strictures and faults of the Croatian fiscal and agricultural aid system. In Italy, producers self‐certify organic crops to avoid the costs and arbitrariness of bureaucratic procedures for organic certification.
It's a short article that allowed us to collaborate on a paper and compare notes, so to say, which is still relatively uncommon in anthropological publications.
Smith, Robin and Cristina Grasseni. 2020. Ambivalent solidarities: Food governance reconfigurations in Croatia and Italy. Anthropology Today 36(1): 12-16. Read the article
Book chapter published in Utopia and neoliberalism: Ethnographies of rural spaces, 2017
My chapter in this volume explores the concept of 'solastalgia', a longing or nostalgia for a physical landscape. There is a rich strand of literature on "Yugonostalgia" in anthropology, where the peoples of the former Yugoslav countries are shown to have a nostalgia for the way of life and sometimes the political or economic structures of the Yugoslav era.
What I found in my own fieldwork was a focused nostalgia on how the agricultural landscape once looked at this time, and that people continue to link the characteristics of today's landscape with the deficits of their contemporary political and economic situation. They recount the way their surroundings once looked as a way to narrate what they felt they have lost in post-socialism.
Solastalgia in Istria, Croatia. In: Hana Horáková, Andrea Boscoboinik, & Robin Smith (eds.), Utopia and neoliberalism: Ethnographies of rural spaces, Berlin: Lit Verlag, 149-170. ISBN: 9783643802156
An anthropological reflection on urban gardening through the lens of citizenship
Book chapter published in Food system transformations: Social movements, local economies, collaborative networks, 2021
This chapter is completely different from my other work. It comes out of my first postdoctoral position at Leiden University on a project called 'Food citizens? Collective food procurement in European cities' where I was asked to write about how the anthropology of citizenship might help us understand the concept of 'food citizenship' within the context of urban gardening.
Rather than being based on any fieldwork on urban gardening, I reflected instead on the rich literature of the anthropology of citizenship and ideas around terroir in European wine regions to suggest that place-based identities are as relevant in urban environments as we have understood them to be in rural ones. It's a good example of my ability to stretch into new fields (here, urban gardening and food activism literature) and I'm quite pleased with the results!
2021. An anthropological reflection on urban gardening through the lens of citizenship. In Cordula Kropp, Irene Antoni-Komar, & Colin Sage (eds.), Food system transformations: Social movements, local economies, collaborative networks. (Critical Food Studies Series) Routledge: New York, 198-210. ISBN: 9780367674229
Occasional blogs and other brief content
I also occasionally publish short pieces online that may be of interest to some:
2020. Björklund Larsen, Lotta & Robin Smith. The anthropology of tax. Tax Administration Research Centre (TARC) Blog:
2018. In food we trust. Instituut Culturele Antropologie, Universiteit Leiden, 2, 15-17.
(Available in hardcopy only, so contact me if it is of interest).
2018. Community in economic ‘kriza’: Broken promises and precarity in a small Croatian farming community.