Perhaps in a subconscious attempt to distract myself from writing my dissertation prospectus I am currently taking an Economic Anthropology class [and loving it] with Jim Ferguson, author of Expectations of Modernity, among other famous works in Economic Anthropology.
The class has a fascinating reading list that includes works like Debt (by the anarchist David Graeber) and Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, among other works in economic anthropology and general anthropological ethnography.
Over the past week we read Karen Ho’s Liquidated, a captivating ethnography of Wall Street, outlining how the recruitment, orientation and work experience of Wall Streeters give them both a false sense of being one in the market and a misguided belief that the real economy is just as liquid as Wall Street.
Reading the book gives one a better understanding of why Wall Street has no qualms with downsizing. Turns out they downsize a lot on the street, to the extent that it is only natural to them that the real economy ought to operate that way as well. It was one of the most interesting ethnographies I have ever read (out of the five I have read thus far; most of them from some remote part of the world).
Watch this space for more takes on the class reading list as the quarter progresses….