Fictions of capital: movements and modalities 
Belinda Leach (University of Guelph)
Pauline Gardiner Barber (Dalhousie)
Winnie Lem (Trent University)
Don Kalb (University of Bergen)
Worlds in motion: Global Flows/Mondes en mouvement: Flots globaux
FSS 1007
Start time:
3 May, 2017 at 8:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel problematizes the economic fictions of capitalism and how these render social relations, structures and organizations unstable. We ask how these 'foundations' and their dynamics condition peoples' lives in their relationships with corporations, financial institutions, and the state.

Long Abstract:

This panel problematizes the modalities of the economic fictions on which the global capitalist economy is built and explores the ways such fictions render social relations, structures and organizations unstable and constantly in flux. Marxist scholars have consistently pointed to the fictitious commodity status of labour and land. Recent anthropological scholarship addresses how instruments like debt, derivatives and finance capital are in essence cultural constructions designed to serve the interests of the wealthy. Similarly, capital's mobility and the mobility of people as labour is assumed to sustain growth. That growth is tenuous becomes evident with the collapse of commodity prices and persistently low interest rates. These, combined with austerity programs devoted to servicing sovereign debt, further destabilize and/or impoverish households and individuals globally. Under these conditions workers seek to meet their livelihood needs through greater indebtedness; resorting to increasingly precarious work; engaging in multiple, casual jobs; illegal activities; and migration to apparently more favourable economies. Livelihoods are stretched across space and the social relations of family and community disrupted. Movement and disruption characterize the dynamics of the economy and peoples' attempts to manage within it.

Papers will explore the relationship between such fictions, disruptions and social transformations. Using Marxist scholarship as a point of departure, we ask how these not so real 'foundations' of capitalist economics and their shifting dynamics condition the lives of people who must enter into relationships (as producers, consumers and labourers) with corporations, financial institutions, and the state to meet livelihood needs.

Accepted papers: