Corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris is an activist and author. Coming of age during the Viet Nam War, she has been active in a wide range of issues, including local democracy, antiwar, environment, U.S. intervention in Central America, energy, human rights, police brutality, and labor organizing.
Formative Years–My “Tribe” Was a Utility Company
While living in Texas, she worked on a long grassroots effort against stripmining and burning lignite, a low-energy, dirty precursor of coal. The campaign included the decisive referendum defeat of a half-a-billion dollar bond package for a massive stripmining and power plant project. Her 700-page dissertation, detailing how the quasi-public utility company manipulated its way through a maze of regulatory agencies despite widespread public opposition, has been used in classes at the University of Texas.
After the campaign, Morris served on the City of Austin’s Resource Management Commission, coordinating conservation and energy efficiency programs. In 1986, the Texas Press Association first place award for Community Service among weekly newspapers went to the Bastrop County Times (Bastrop, Texas) for coverage of the Lower Colorado River Authority of Texas, the quasi-public utility involved in the lignite escapade. Editor/Publisher Bill Bishop and Jane Anne Morris worked together on the award-winning series of articles. Her experience in Texas energy politics became the basis for Not In My Back Yard: The Handbook (Silvercat Publications, 1994)
Activism Meets Corporate “Personhood”
During a decade with the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), Morris traveled widely throughout the U.S. giving talks, interviews and workshops on topics such as Democracy and Corporations, the Domestic “Free Trade” Zone, and the History of Corporate Law. Half a dozen of her essays from that era (1995-2005) can be found in the anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy (ed. Dean Ritz, Apex Press, 2001), and in Rachel’s Environmental Health News (R.E.H.N.) Nos. 488, 489, 502, 806, 812, and 813. Her work has also appeared in Earth Island Journal, Synthesis/Regeneration, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Progressive Populist, the Earth First! Journal, CommonDreams.org, and elsewhere.
Morris’s first book was endorsed by Ralph Nader; her new one, by Vandana Shiva, Howard Zinn, Stephanie Mills, Jan Edwards, John Stauber, Britt Bailey, Peter Kellman, Ben Manski, Carl Mayer, James Gray Pope, Jim Tarbell, and others. She has been interviewed on radio stations from North Pole, Alaska, to California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York, among others, including Studs Terkel’s program on Chicago’s WFMT, and Seattle KEZX’s “Public Affairs Hour.” She has also lectured in university classes in Sociology, Business Administration, “Science, Technology and Society,” Business Ethics, and “Government and Natural Resources.”
Morris has taught anthropology to community college students, English as a Foreign Language (ESL) to Mexican migrant workers, and G.E.D. to prison inmates. She worked on an organic farm in New Mexico, and for five years was active in a sister-community relationship with a peace community in Colómbia. She has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She enjoys urban (food) gathering, and playing the accordion and charango.
Morris lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Her most recent book, Gaveling Down the Rabble: How “Free Trade” is Stealing Our Democracy (Apex Press, 2008), explains the century-old domestic “free trade” zone within the United States. Since 2007, Morris has worked on the editorial board of Synthesis/Regeneration: A Journal of Green Social Thought. Currently, Morris is working to get community gardens on the roof of the new Madison, Wisconsin, Public Library, and writing a book about the Supreme Court.