Neoliberalism has been a popular concept within anthropological scholarship over the past decade; this very popularity has also elicited a fair share of criticism. This review examines current anthropological engagements with neoliberalism and explains why the concept has been so attractive for anthropologists since the millennium. It briefly outlines the history of neoliberal thought and explains how neoliberalism is different from late capitalism. Although neoliberalism is a polysemic concept with multiple referents, anthropologists have most commonly understood neoliberalism in two main ways: as a structural force that affects people's life-chances and as an ideology of governance that shapes subjectivities. Neoliberalism frequently functions as an index of the global political-economic order and allows for a vast array of ethnographic sites and topics to be contained within the same frame. However, as an analytical framework, neoliberalism can also obscure ethnographic particularities and foreclose certain avenues of inquiry.


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