93243 - Economic Anthropology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The course introduces students to economic anthropology, offering a broad overview to a subdiscipline that challenges the very notion of a discreet economic realm separable from others such as religion, kinship or politics. It covers key themes such as egalitarianism, notions of wealth and property, gifts and commodities, community and market exchange, marriage systems, money, symbolic exchange, ecology and the role of nonhumans, and finance. The course is taught using ethnographic case studies. It offers students critical insight into cross-cultural economic themes and allows them to improve their research and presentation skills.

Course contents

The course is designed to give a solid grounding in economic anthropology. It begins by introducing the anthropological legacy of Karl Polanyi’s seminal critique of classical economics inspired by early 20th century economic ethnography. The exploration of the ways in which economy is embedded in society is developed through the literature on gift exchange. We then examine egalitarianism and sharing economies among hunter gatherers, further challenging the figure of ‘economic man’. This leads us to sessions exploring different notions of ownership and property, and gender, kinship and economy. We then consider other systems of production and the entanglements of food, agriculture and social movements, before discussing how religion can be bound up with economy, and Protestantism’s relationship with capitalism. The final sessions introduce the concept of the informal economy, money and trade, and anthropological accounts of finance and financialization.


1. Introduction: The substantive economy

Polanyi, K. 2001[1944] The great transformation. Boston: Beacon.

Dalton, G. 1961. ‘Economic theory and primitive society’. American Anthropologist New Series, 63(1): 1-25

Gregory, C. 2018. ‘Moral economy’ in International Encyclopedia of Anthropology (Wiley).

Scott, J. 1976. Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia. Yale.

Norbert Götz (2015) ‘Moral economy’: its conceptual history and analytical

prospects, Journal of Global Ethics, 11:2, 147-162, DOI: 10.1080/17449626.2015.1054556

Shakya, M., Clammer, J. Economic anthropology and development alternatives: rethinking and re-politicizing theory and practice. Dialect Anthropol 41, 87–96 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10624-017-9453-x

Hart, Keith and Ortiz, Horacio. 2014. “The Anthropology of Money and Finance: Between Ethnography and World History.” Annual Review of Anthropology, 45: 465-82.

Mintz, S. 1986 Sweetness and Power: The place of sugar in modern history. Penguin.


2. The Gift

Core readings:

Mauss, M. 2011. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books.

Andrew Sanchez, James G. Carrier, Christopher Gregory, James Laidlaw, Marilyn Strathern, Yunxiang Yan & Jonathan Parry (2017) ‘The Indian Gift’: A critical debate, History and Anthropology, 28:5, 553-583, DOI: 10.1080/02757206.2017.1375489

Malinowski. B. 1920. Kula; the Circulating Exchange of Valuables in the Archipelagoes of Eastern New Guinea. Man20: 97-105

Further reading:

Strathern, M. The Gender of the Gift

Munn, Nancy 1982(1986). The Fame of Gawa: A Symbolic Study of Value Transformation in a Massim (Papua New Guinea) Society. Durham: Duke University Press.

Weiner, A. 1992. Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While Giving. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kopytoff, Igor 1986 “The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process” from The Social Life of Things: Commodities in cultural perspective ed. Arjun Appadurai Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 64-95

Graeber, D. 2011. Debt: The First 5000 Years. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House.


3. The original affluent society: egalitarianism, sufficiency and the sharing economy

Core readings:

Sahlins, M. 1972 ‘The original affluent society’ in Stone age economics.

Bird-David, Nurit, et al. “Beyond ‘The Original Affluent Society’: A Culturalist Reformulation [and Comments and Reply].” Current Anthropology, vol. 33, no. 1, 1992, pp. 25–47. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2743706 .

Politis, G. (1996). "Moving to produce: Nukak mobility and settlement patterns in Amazonia." World Archaeology27(3): 492-511.

Woodburn, J. 1982. ‘Egalitarian societies’. Man (N.S.) 17, 431-51

Further reading:

Lee, Richard B. (1979). The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Roberto Marchionatti 2012. The economists and the primitive societies. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 41(5): 529-540

Kaplan, David 2000 The Darker Side of the “Original Affluent Society” Journal of Anthropological Research 56 (3) 301-324

4. Ownership and Property

Key readings:

Brightman, M. 2010. ‘Creativity and control: Property in Guianese Amazonia’. Journal de la Société des Américanistes96(1): 135-167. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24606439

De Matos Viegas, S. 2016. ‘Temporalities of ownership: land possession and its transformations among the Tupinambá’. In Brightman, Fausto and Grotti (eds) Ownership and Nurture: studies in native Amazonian property relations.

de Matos Viegas, S. 2010. ‘Ethnography and Public Categories: The Making of Compatible Agendas in Contemporary Anthropological Practices’. Etnográfica 14(1): 135-58.

Descola P., 2008. “Who owns nature ?”, La vie des idées, published online 21 Jan, www.laviedesidees.fr.

Greene, S. 2004. ‘Indigenous People Incorporated? Culture as Politics, Culture as Property in Pharmaceutical Bioprospecting’. Current Anthropology 45(2): 211-37.

Guha, R. and J. Martinez Alier 1997. ‘The Merchandising of Biodiversity’. Chapter 6 of Varieties of Environmentalism. London: Earthscan.

Further reading:

Albert, B. 2015. ‘The polyglot forest’. In The great animal orchestra. Paris: Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain. https://www.academia.edu/26224337/The_Polyglot_Forest

Anderson, D. 1998 ‘Property as a way of knowing on Evenki lands in Arctic Siberia’ in C. Hann (ed) Property relations: renewing the anthropological tradition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 64-84.

Andrello, G. 2010. ‘Origin Narratives, Transformation Routes Heritage, Knowledge And (a)Symmetries On The Uaupés River’. Vibrant 10(1): 495-528.

Århem, K. 1996. ‘The cosmic food web: human-nature relatedness in the Northwest Amazon’. In Descola and Pálsson (eds) Nature and Society: anthropological perspectives.

Bonilla, O. 2016. ‘Parasitism and Subjection: modes of Paumari predation’. In Brightman, Fausto and Grotti (eds) Ownership and Nurture: studies in native Amazonian property relations.

Chaumeil, B. and J-P. 2006. ‘Uncles and nephews: Yagua concepts of kinship among living things’. In A. Surrallés and P. García Hierro (eds) The Land Within: Indigenous territory and the perception of the environment. Entire book available at: https://www.iwgia.org/images/publications//0117_land_ithin.pdf [https://www.iwgia.org/images/publications/0117_land_ithin.pdf] . Originally published in French in Journal de la Société des Américanistes 78(2): 25-37.

Descola, P. 1996. ‘Constructing natures: symbolic ecology and social practice’. In Descola and Pálsson (eds) Nature and Society: anthropological perspectives.

De Soto, H. interview http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/summer2011/this-land-is-your-land

Descola, P. 2005. ‘Ecology as cosmological analysis’. In A. Surrallés and P. García Hierro (eds) The Land Within: Indigenous territory and the perception of the environment. Entire book available at: https://www.iwgia.org/images/publications//0117_land_ithin.pdf [https://www.iwgia.org/images/publications/0117_land_ithin.pdf]

Carneiro da Cunha, M. 2009. ‘Culture’ and Culture: Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Rights. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Fausto, C. 2007. ‘Feasting on People: Eating animals and humans in Amazonia’. Current Anthropology 48(4). DOI: 10.1086/518298

Kohn, E. 2007. ‘How dogs dream: Amazonian natures and the politics of transspecies engagement’. American Ethnologist 34(1). DOI: 10.1525/ae.2007.34.1.3

Kohn, E. 2007. ‘Animal masters and the ecological embedding of history among the Avila Runa of Ecuador’. In Fausto and Heckenberger (eds) Time and Memory in Indigenous Amazonia.

Fausto, C. 2012. ‘Too many owners: Mastery and ownership in Amazonia’. In M. Brightman, V. Grotti & O. Ulturgasheva (eds) Animism in Rainforest and Tundra: Personhood, Animals and Non-Humans in Contemporary Amazonia and Siberia. New York/ Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 29-47.

Hugh-Jones, S. 2010. “Entre l’image et l’écrit. La politique tukano de patrimonialisation en Amazonie”. Cahiers des Amériques Latines, 63-64: 195- 227.

Hann, C. 1998 ‘Introduction’, in C.Hann (ed) Property relations: renewing the anthropological tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hayden, C. 2004. ‘Prospecting’s Publics’. In K. Verdery and C. Humphrey (eds) Property in question: value transformation in the global economy. Berg, Oxford, pp. 115-39.

Kirsch, S. 2004. Property limits: debates on the body, nature and culture. In Hirsch, E. & M. Strathern 2004 (eds) Transactions and creations: property debates and the stimulus of Melanesia, Berg, Oxford.

Kohn, E. 2007. ‘Animal masters and the ecological embedding of history among the Ávila Runa of Ecuador’, in Fausto, C. and M. Heckenberger (eds), Time and memory in indigenous Amazonia: anthropological perspectives. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, pp. 106-29.

Kalinoe, L. 2004. The Bases of Ownership Claims Over Natural Resources by Indigenous Peoples in Papua New Guinea. In L. Kalinoe and J. Leach (eds) Rationales of ownership: transactions and claims to ownership in contemporary Papua New Guinea, Sean Kingston, Wantage, pp. 57-78.

Lewis, J. 2005. ‘Whose forest is it anyway? Mbendeje Yaka pygmies, the Ndoki forest and the wider world.’ In T. Widlok and W. Tadesse (eds) Property and equality Volume II: Encapsulation, commercialisation, discrimination. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 56-78.

Sneath, D. 2004. ‘Property regimes and sociotechnical systems: rights over land in Mongolia’s “Age of the Market”’. In K. Verdery and C. Humphrey (eds) Property in question: value transformation in the global economy. Berg, Oxford, pp.

Strang, V. 2010 The Summoning of Dragons: Ancestral Serpents and Indigenous Water Rights in Australia and New Zealand. Anthropology News

51(2): 5

Testart, Alain 2002. The extent and significance of debt slavery. Revue française de sociologie 43-1 pp. 173-204, available at https://www.persee.fr/doc/rfsoc_0035-2969_2002_sup_43_1_5570


Heller, C. 2013. Food, Farms and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops. Durham: Duke.

Khazanov, Anatoly M. and Günther Schlee (eds) 2012. Who Owns The Stock? Collective and Multiple Property Rights in Animals Oxford: Berghahn.

Macpherson, C.B. 1962. The political theory of possessive individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nahum-Claudel, C. 2018. Vital Diplomacy: The ritual everyday on a dammed river in Amazonia. Especially chapters 1 and 3.

Strang, V. 1997. Uncommon Ground: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Values, Oxford, New York: Berg.

Strang, V. 2009. Gardening the World: agency, identity, and the ownership of water. New York & Oxford: Berghahn.

Surralés, A. and P. García Hierro (eds) 2005. The Land Within: Indigenous Territory and the Perception of Environment. Copenhagen: IWGIA.


5. Kinship strategies & economic practices (with Chelsie Yount-André)

Coe, C., 2011. What is love? The materiality of care in Ghanaian transnational families. International Migration, 49(6), pp.7-24.

Feldman-Savelsberg, P., 2020. Class Performances: Children's Parties and the Reproduction of Social Class among Diasporic Cameroonians. Africa Today, 66(3-4), pp.21-43.

Zelizer, V.A., 2000. The purchase of intimacy. Law & Social Inquiry, 25(3), pp.817-848.

Yount-André, C., 2018. Gifts, trips and Facebook families: children and the semiotics of kinship in transnational Senegal. Africa, 88(4), pp.683-701.


6. Food, agriculture and social movements

Key readings:

Edelman, M. and C. James 2011 ‘Peasants’ rights and the UN system: quixotic struggle? Or emancipatory idea whose time has come?’ [http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03066150.2010.538583] Journal of Peasant Studies 38(1): 81-108.

Galemba, R. 2012. ‘“Corn is food, not contraband”: the right to “free trade” at the Mexico-Guatemala border’. American Ethnologist 39(4): 716-34.

Wittman, H. “Reworking the metabolic rift: La Vía Campesina, agrarian citizenship, and food sovereignty” [http://landfood.ubc.ca/publications/Wittman_2009_JPS_Food_Sovereignty.pdf] Journal of Peasant Studies 36 (4): 805-826. 2009.

Paxson H. 2010 Locating Value in Artisan Cheese: Reverse Engineering Terroir for New World Landscapes American Anthropologist 112(3) 444-457

Further reading:

Dauvergne, Peter and Genevieve LeBaron. 2014. Protest Inc.: The Corporatization of Activism. Polity.

Desmarais, A. 2008 ‘Peasant resistance to neoliberalism: La Vía Campesina and food sovereignty." Human Geography, Vol. 1, Issue 1.

De La Cadena, M. (2010).’Indigenous cosmopolitics in the Andes: conceptual reflections beyond “politics”’. Cultural Anthropology, 25: 334–370.

Food (in)security— food security and food sovereignty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuS8L7k8gQg

Graeber, D. 2009. Direct Action: An Ethnography. Edinburgh Oakland: AK Press.

Graeber, D. 2013. The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement. New York: Spiegel & Grau.

Graeber, D. 2014. "A Practical Utopian's Guide to the Coming Collapse" [http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/a-practical-utopians-guide-to-the-coming-collapse] . [http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/a-practical-utopians-guide-to-the-coming-collapse] . http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/a-practical-utopians-guide-to-the-coming-collapse

Grasseni, C. Beyond Alternative Food Networks: Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups. London: Bloomsbury.

Heller, C. 2013. Food, Farms and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops. Durham: Duke.

Juris, J. and A. Khasnabish (eds) 2013. Insurgent Encounters. Durham: Duke.

Mintz, S. and C. Du Bois 2002. ‘The anthropology of food and eating’. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 99-119.

Pottier, Johan (1999) Anthropology of food: the social dynamics of food security. Polity Press.

Ross, E. 2002. Malthusianism, Capitalist Agriculture, and the Fate of Peasants in the Making of the Modern World Food System [http://rrp.sagepub.com/content/35/4/437] . Review of Radical Political Economics 2003 35: 437-61.

Welker, M. 2012. ‘The green revolution's ghost: unruly subjects of participatory development in rural Indonesia [http://anthropology.cornell.edu/departments/anthro/faculty/upload/Welker-2012-Green-Revolutions-Ghost.pdf] .’ American Ethnologist 39(2): 389-406.

West, P. 2012. From modern production to imagined primitive: the social world of coffee from Papua New Guinea. Durham: Duke.

Wolford, W. 2010. This land is ours now: social mobilization and the meanings of land in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press.

Rubin, Jeffrey W. and Emma Sokoloff-Rubin 2013. Sustaining Activism: A Brazilian Women's Movement and a Father-Daughter Collaboration. Durham: Duke University Press.


7. The Spirit of Capitalism – economy and religion

Key readings:

Bornstein E. 2002. Developing faith: theologies of economic development in Zimbabwe. Journal of Religion in Africa 32(1):4–31 .

Haynes, N. 2012. ‘Pentecostalism and the morality of money: prosperity, inequality, and religious sociality on the Zambian copperbelt’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute(N.S.) 18: 123-39.

Keane, W. 2002. Sincerity, ‘Modernity,’ and the Protestants. [http://sitemaker.umich.edu/webbkeane/files/sincerity_modernity_prots.pdf] In Cultural Anthropology vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 65-92.

Buyandelgeriyn, M. (2007), Dealing with uncertainty: Shamans, marginal capitalism, and the remaking of history in postsocialist Mongolia. American Ethnologist, 34: 127-147. doi:10.1525/ae.2007.34.1.127 [https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.2007.34.1.127]

Wright, R. 2009. ‘The Art of Being Crente: The Baniwa Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Sustainable Development’. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 16: 202–226.

Further reading:

Weber, M. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Various editions.

Beidelman TO. 1982. Colonial Evangelism: A Socio-Historical Study of an East African Mission at the Grassroots. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press

Bornstein, E. The Spirit of Development: Protestant NGOs, Morality, and Economics in Zimbabwe. Stanford UP.

Comaroff JL, Comaroff J. 1997. Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa, Vol. 1. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press

Deneulin, S. [http://opus.bath.ac.uk/15954/] and Rakodi, C., 2011. Revisiting religion: development studies thirty years on. World Development, 39 (1), pp. 45-54.

Freeman, D. ‘Introduction: The Pentecostal ethic and the spirit of development’, in D. Freeman (ed) 2012. Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hearn J. 2002. The ‘invisible’ NGO: US evangelical missions in Kenya. Journal of Religion in Africa. 32(1):32–60

Jacka J. K. (2005), Emplacement and Millennial Expectations in an Era of Development and Globalization: Heaven and the Appeal of Christianity for the Ipili. American Anthropologist, 107: 643–653.

Stambach A. 2010. Faith in Schools: Religion, Education, and American Evangelicals in East Africa. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press



Maurer, B. 2005. Mutual life, limited: Islamic banking, alternative currencies, lateral reason. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

_________2008 ‘Re-socialising finance? Or dressing it in Mufti? Calculating alternatives for cultural economies’. Journal of Cultural Economy 1(1):65-78.


8. Informal economy, money and trade

Key readings:

Bolt, M. 2014. ‘The sociality of the wage: money rhythms, wealth circulation, and the problem with cash on the Zimbabwean-South African border’. JRAI(N.S.) 20: 93-112.

Hart, K. 2009. "On the informal economy: the political history of an ethnographic concept," Working Papers CEB 09-042.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles. Available at: http://ideas.repec.org/p/sol/wpaper/09-042.html

Guyer, J. 2012. Soft currencies, cash economies, new monies: Past and present. PNAS February 14, 2012 109 (7) 2214-2221; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1118397109

Shipton, P. (1995). Luo entrustment: foreign finance and the soil of the spirits in Kenya. Africa, 65, pp 165-196.

Bloch, M. and J. Parry 1989. ‘Introduction: money and the morality of exchange. In J. Parry and M. Bloch (eds) Money and the Morality of Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

Akin, D. and J. Robbins (eds.) 1999. Money and modernity: state and local currencies in Melanesia. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Arrighi, G. 2010. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of our Times. London: Verso.

Bohannan, P. 1955. Some principles of exchange and investment among the Tiv. American Anthropologist 57: 60-70.

Dolan, C. 2012. The new face of development: the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ entrepreneurs. Anthropology Today 28(4): 3-7.

Elyachar, J. 2012. ‘Before (and after) neoliberalism: tacit knowledge, secrets of the trade, and the public sector in Egypt’. Cultural Anthropology 27(1): 76-96.

Graeber, D. 1996. ‘Beads and money: notes toward a theory of wealth and power’. American ethnologist 23(1):4-24.

Graeber, D. 2011. Debt: the first 5000 years. New York: Melville House

Gudeman, S. 2001. The anthropology of economy: community, market and culture. London: Blackwell.

Hart, K. 2005. ‘Notes towards an anthropology of money’. Kritikos 2, http://intertheory.org/hart.htm

Hart, K. The Memory Bank http://thememorybank.co.uk/

Humphrey, C. and S. Hugh-Jones (eds) 1992. Barter, exchange and value. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (introduction and chapter by Hugh-Jones).

Keane, W. ‘Market, materiality and moral meta-language’. Anthropological theory 8(1): 27–42.

Köhler, A. 2005. ‘Money makes the world go round? Commodity sharing, gifting and exchange in the Baka (Pygmy) economy. In T. Widlok and W. Tadesse (eds) Property and equality. Volume II: Encapsulation, commercialisation, discrimination. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 32-55.

Maurer, B. 2006. ‘The anthropology of money.’ Annual review of anthropology 35:15-36.

Ong, A. 2006. Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Durham: Duke.

Shipton, P. 1989. Bitter money: cultural economy and some African meanings of forbidden commodities. Washington: American Anthropological Association.

Simmel, G. 1978 (1900). The philosophy of money. London: Routledge.


9. Financialization (with Giulia Dal Maso)

(Core readings in bold)

The rise and and anthropology of financialization

Arrighi, Giovanni. 1994. The long twentieth century: Money, power, and the origins of our times. London: Verso.

Luciano Gallino. 2013. Finanzcapitalismo, La civiltà del denaro in crisi. Torino. Einuadi.

Marazzi, Christian. 2010. The Violence of Financial Capitalism. New York: Semiotext (e).

Maurer, B. 2012. "Finance." Fieldsights - Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology Online, May 01, 2012.

Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the twenty-first century. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University.

Gudeman, Stephen. 2015. "Piketty and anthropology." In Anthropological Forum, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 66-83. Routledge,

Hart, Keith and Ortiz, Horacio. 2008. “Anthropology in the financial crisis.” AnthropologyToday, 24: 1–3.

Pitluck, A. Z., Mattioli, F., & Souleles, D. 2018. Finance beyond function: Three causal explanations for financialization. Economic Anthropology, 5(2), 157-171.

Financialization of daily life

Pellandini-Simányi, Léna. 2020. "The Financialization of Everyday Life." In The Routledge Handbook of Critical Finance Studies. Taylor & Francis.

Martin, Randy. 2002.Financialization of daily life. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Financialisation from a feminist perspective

Bear, Laura, Karen Ho, Anna Tsing, and Sylvia Yanagisako. 2015. "Gens: A feminist manifesto for the study of capitalism." Available at: https://culanth.org/fieldsights/652-gens-a-feminist-manifesto-for-the-study-of-capital ism.

Weiss, Hadas. 2018 "Reclaiming Meillassoux for the age of financialization." Focaal 2018, no. 82: 109-117.

Ethnography of finance and financial professionals

Ho, Karen Zouwen. 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Durham: Duke UP.

Souleles, Daniel. 2019. Songs of Profit, Songs of Loss: Private Equity Investing in New York City.

Zaloom, Caitlin. 2006. Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. Chicago: U of Chicago.

Hertz, Ellen. 1998. The Trading Crowd: an Ethnography of the Shanghai Stock Market. Cambridge University Press.

Financialization beyond Western accounts

Maurer, Bill. 2005. Mutual Life Limited: Islamic Banking, Alternative Currencies, Lateral Reason. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Dal Maso, Giulia. 2015. ‘The Financialisation Rush: Responding to Precarious Labour and Social Security by Investing in the Chinese Stock Market,’ South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 114, no. 1, pp. 47-64.

Federici, Silvia. 2014. “From Commoning to Debt: Financialization, Microcredit, and the Changing Architecture of Capital Accumulation.” South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 113, no. 2, pp. 231–244.

Financilalisation of nature

Lovell, Heather. 2014. Climate change, markets and standards: the case of financial accounting, Economy and Society, 43:2, 260-284, DOI:10.1080/03085147.2013.812830

Ouma, Stefan, Leigh Johnson, and Patrick Bigger. 2018. "Rethinking the financialization of ‘nature’." Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 50, no. 3: 500-511.

Financialization: Knowledge production, risk, value, labour and countermovements

LiPuma, Edward and Benjamin Lee. 2004 Financial Derivatives and the Globalization of Risk Durham: Duke University Press

Cooper, Melinda, and Martijn Konings. 2015. “Contingency and Foundation: Rethinking Money, Debt, and Finance after the Crisis.” South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 114, no. 2, pp. 239–250.

Scott, Brett. 2013. The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking The Future of Money. London: Pluto Press.

Virtanen, A., & Nelms, T. (2017). B. Maurer (2016). Is It Art? Is It a Hoax? Hedging Precarity and Protecting the Commonfare: an Interview with Akseli Virtanen. Journal of Cultural Economy.

See also a collection on articles about the Robin Hood cooperative project



10. Presentations





Additional topics (optional)

i) Decolonising

Lewis, Courtney. 2018. Economic Sovereignty in Volatile Times: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Strategies Supporting Economic Stability. Research in Economic Anthropology 38.

ii) Value

Appadurai, Arjun

1986 “Introduction: commodities and the politics of value” from The Social Life of Things:

Commodities in cultural persepctive ed. Arjun Appadurai Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Eiss, Paul and David Pederson.

(2002). "Introduction: Values of Value." Cultural Anthropology 17, no. 3 : 283–290.

Graeber, D. 2001. Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. New York: Palgrave..

Graeber, D. 2013. “It’s value that brings universes into being.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(2) 219-43.

Miller, Daniel.

2008. “The Uses of Value.” Geoforum 39 (3): 1122–32. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2006.03.009.

Turner, Terence

2008 Marxian Value Theory: An Anthropological Perspective. Anthropological Theory 8:43-57.

Fredriksen, Aurora et al.

2014. A Conceptual Map for the Study of Value: An Initial Mapping of Concepts for the Project ‘Human and Non-human and Environmental Value Systems: An Impossible Frontier?’ LCSV Working Paper Series No. 2. Manchester: Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value.

Sullivan, Sian.

2014, March. The Natural Capital Myth; or Will Accounting Save the World?:

Preliminary Thoughts on Nature, Finance and Values. Manchester: The Leverhulme

Centre for the Study of Value.

iii) Work

Graeber, D. 2018. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Penguin.

Lee, Richard Borshay. 1979 The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Marx, Karl. “Wage Labour and Capital” (1859) and “Estranged Labour” (from the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844); Capital Vol 1, Ch 1-4.

Bear, Laura. (2014). For labour: Ajeet's accident and the ethics of technological fixes in time. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 20: 71–88.

Zaloom, Caitlin. 2006. “Markets and Machines: Work in the Technological Sensoryscapes of Finance.” American Quarterly, 58 (3): 815-837.



Carrier, James G. (ed.). 2005. A Handbook of Economic Anthropology. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Hann, Chris and Keith Hart. 2011. Economic Anthropology: History, Ethnography, Critique. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Wilk, Richard R. and Lisa C. Cliggett. 2007. Economies and Cultures: Foundations of Economic Anthropology. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.

Recommended Further reading

Boellstorff, Tom. 2015. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Crewe, E. and R. Axelby 2012. Anthropology and Development: Culture, Morality and Politics in a Globalised World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Escobar, A. 1995. Encountering development: the making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton: University of Princeton Press.

Ferguson, J. 1990. The anti-politics machine: Development, depoliticization and bureaucratic power in Lesotho. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Foucault, M. (1991). 'Governmentality', in G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller (eds) The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 87–104.

Hann and Hart 2011. Economic anthropology Cambridge: Polity Press.

High, Mette M. 2017. Fear and Fortune: Spirit Worlds and Emerging Economies in the Mongolian Gold Rush. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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Murray Li, T. 2007. The will to improve: governmentality, development, and the practice of politics. Durham: Duke.

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Ferguson, James, 2013. Declarations of Dependence: Labor, Personhood, and Welfare in Southern Africa. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19:223-242. PDF [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9655.12023/pdf]

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Teaching methods

The course will be taught through the discussion of ethnographic case studies. The first half of each session will be in the form of a lecture, and the second half in the form of a student-led seminar. Students must read at least three of the texts for each session in advance, and prepare notes and a set of points for discussion. Pairs of students will prepare class presentations, based on wider engagement with course materials and themes, on subjects of their own choice, accompanied by slides, lasting between 8 and 10 minutes, for each seminar. This material will form the basis of an open discussion to delve more deeply into the themes that emerge. During the final session all students will give a second presentation engaging more broadly with different topics across the course.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be through oral examination, during which students must discuss an essay of c. 3000 words, on a theme based on the course, to be agreed with Prof. Brightman, which they must submit at least one week before the examination. Students should demonstrate initiative and are encouraged to explore readings beyond the course bibliography, and to draw on their own experience, fieldwork etc. The argument of the essay must engage with anthropological theory, and points must be substantiated with ethnographic evidence.

Students are also recommended to familiarise themselves with one or two detailed (i.e. book length) ethnographic case studies, which they can use to illustrate ideas discussed during the course. The reading list provided is intended as a guide, and students are urged to explore work published in major anthropology journals, such as Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Social Anthropology, Current Anthropology, L'Homme (in French) or Mana (in Portuguese), and economic anthropology journals such as Economic Anthropology and Economy and Society.

Office hours

See the website of Marc Andrew Brightman