The work of Douglas Harper has for two decades documented worlds in eclipse. A glimpse into the life of dairy farmers in upstate New York on the cusp of technological change, Changing Works is no exception. With photographs and interviews with farmers, Harper brings into view a social world altered by machines and stuns us with gorgeous visions of rural times past. As a member of this community, Harper relates compelling stories about families and their dairies that reveal how the advent of industrialized labor changed the way farmers structure their work and organize their lives. His new book charts the transformation of American farming from small dairies based on animal power and cooperative work to industrialized agriculture.
Changing Works combines Harper's pictures with classic images by photographers such as Gordon Parks, Sol Libsohn, and Charlotte Brooks-men and women whose work during the 1940s documented the mechanization and automation of agricultural practices. Part social history and part analysis of the drive to mass production, Changing Works examines how we farmed a half century ago versus how we do today through pictures new and old and through discussions with elderly farmers who witnessed the makeover. Ultimately, Harper challenges timely ecological and social questions about contemporary agriculture. He shows us how the dissolution of cooperative dairy farming has diminished the safety of the practice, degraded the way we relate to our natural environment, and splintered the once tight-knit communities of rural farmers. Mindful, then, of the advantages of preindustrial agriculture, and heeding the alarming spread of mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, Changing Works harks back to the benefits of an older system.
In 1997 the United Kingdom returned control of Hong Kong to China, ending the city’s status as one of the last remnants of the British Empire and initiating a new phase for it as both a modern city and a hub for global migrations. Hong Kong is a tour of the city’s postcolonial urban landscape, innovatively told through fieldwork and photography.
Caroline Knowles and Douglas Harper’s point of entry into Hong Kong is the unusual position of the British expatriates who chose to remain in the city after the transition. Now a relatively insignificant presence, British migrants in Hong Kong have become intimately connected with another small minority group there: immigrants from Southeast Asia. The lives, journeys, and stories of these two groups bring to life a place where the past continues to resonate for all its residents, even as the city hurtles forward into a future marked by transience and transition. By skillfully blending ethnographic and visual approaches, Hong Kong offers a fascinating guide to a city that is at once unique in its recent history and exemplary of our globalized present.
Outside of Italy, the country’s culture and its food appear to be essentially synonymous. And indeed, as The Italian Way makes clear, preparing, cooking, and eating food play a central role in the daily activities of Italians from all walks of life. In this beautifully illustrated book, Douglas Harper and Patrizia Faccioli present a fascinating and colorful look at the Italian table.
The Italian Way focuses on two dozen families in the city of Bologna, elegantly weaving together Harper’s outsider perspective with Faccioli’s intimate knowledge of the local customs. The authors interview and observe these families as they go shopping for ingredients, cook together, and argue over who has to wash the dishes. Throughout, the authors elucidate the guiding principle of the Italian table—a delicate balance between the structure of tradition and the joy of improvisation. With its bite-sized history of food in Italy, including the five-hundred-year-old story of the country’s cookbooks, and Harper’s mouth-watering photographs, The Italian Way is a rich repast—insightful, informative, and inviting.
A number of years ago, Douglas Harper moved to northern New York to teach in a small college. Upon his arrival there his department chairman noted his eight-year-old Saab and said, "You'll be meeting Willie." Haper spent the next years establishing not only a working relationship but a friendship with Willie. In Working Knowledge, he introduces us to Willie, a mechanic and jack-of-all-trades. With this engaging and insightful profile—part biography, part ethnography, and part photo essay—Harper documents what Willie does and how he does it. Harper's dignified portrait captures a disappearing feature of modern life—the essential human factor in the world of work.