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Doing and undoing with taxes [Anthropology of Tax Network] 
Charles Dolph (University College London)
Maximilien Zahnd (University of Sussex)
Gustav Kalm (Sciences Po)
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Gustav Kalm (Sciences Po)
Robin Smith (Copenhagen Business School)
Maxim Bolt (University of Oxford)
Thursday 25 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel explores how taxes make and unmake our worlds through social relationships, legal regimes, and financial flows. They have built, ordered and made states, subjectivities, global accumulation regimes. Mostly invisibilized, taxes take center stage when contested or proposed.

Long Abstract:

Taxes tend to cross the threshold of popular visibility only when contested. Their deeper structuring power mostly goes unnoticed. From making nation-states and national economies to framing concepts of debt and credit, and constructing gendered and racialised identities, taxation shapes the worlds we live in. This panel explores how taxes make and unmake society.

Taxes make relationships across multiple scales, from intimate relations between taxpayers, to national and international hierarchies and dependencies. In the nation, taxation is the classical instrument for financing public goods such as healthcare, infrastructure, and education. As fiscal systems manage resource flows and award these flows moral meanings, they produce novel subjectivities such as citizens, creditors and debtors, as well as ideas about what is valuable.

Tax havens leverage jurisdiction-based tax systems in global wealth chains fostering inequalities in an increasingly financialized world economy. Likewise, taxes have been core to imperial projects which govern global resource flows. At extreme, they have been tools of violent extraction and technologies of power in projects which destroy particular ways of life, and subjugate peoples, including eliminating indigenous nations.

Finally, taxes also hold the potential for ‘making’ new worlds. They have become a key tool in plans to fight climate change and integral to projects of social justice and decolonization. Their potential as vehicles for change make them both objects of political anger and desire: new levies solicit riots and opposition while calls to ‘tax the rich’ have returned in many countries.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -