Mergers and Acquisitions will host interviews with leading economic anthropologists, provide reflection pieces on economic transformations and problems, and serve as a vehicle for new and established scholars to connect with each other and share their perspectives on the anthropological study of economic life. Each quarter, Mergers and Acquisitions will feature a specific topic or theme, curated by one of our editors. The blog will then explore this theme through a number of different formats including podcasts, photo essays, interviews and roundtable discussions.
What is Economic Anthropology? Reflections from Dan Souleles
Aneil’s first recording in this series is with Daniel Souleles, one of the organizer’s of this year’s meeting and an economic and political anthropologist at Copenhagen Business School. Recorded at Dan’s most recent field site, the Massachusetts Capitol Building, Aneil and Dan talk about his take on economic anthropology and the perspective that guides his past research on financiers in private equity and his current project on how bills get passed in Massachusetts.
Reimaging Money in Kenya: A Conversation with Sibel Kusimba
In this podcast Jenny speaks with Sibel Kusimba about her book Reimagining Money: Kenya in the Digital Finance Revolution. Sibel explains how digital finance draws upon longstanding practices of reciprocity and exchange in Kenyan society, but she also discusses some of the ways digital money is reconfiguring social lives and relations. Their conversation highlights how anthropological perspectives can enhance understandings of the way money takes on multiple meanings in social life.
Mining the Digital Age in Eastern Congo: A Conversation with Jim Smith
In this episode Jenny Huberman speaks with Jim Smith, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Davis, about his new book, The Eyes of the World: Mining the Digital Age in the Eastern Congo. Their conversation focuses on people who are the very center of powering the digital age but who most listeners will likely know little about: the artisanal miners and traders who work in the forests of Eastern Congo to extract minerals that are used to produce many of the digital technologies we reply upon today. Jim explains how the extractive industry of artisanal mining not only keeps the wheels of digital capitalism spinning, but also becomes a generative practice through which miners imagine and construct social lives and relationships that defy many of the dominant logics of capitalism. In so doing, he makes a powerful case for the role anthropology can play in enhancing and complexifying our understandings of capitalism in the digital age.
Ghost Workers and the On-Demand Platform Economy: A Conversation with Mary L. Gray
In this episode, Jenny Huberman speaks with anthropologist, media scholar, and Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, Mary L. Gray. They discuss Mary’s highly acclaimed book, Ghost Work: How to prevent Silicon Valley from creating a Global Underclass, which she co-authored with Siddharth Suri. Their conversation explores the experiences of on-demand platform workers, as well as the way the platform economy is changing conceptions of work and employment more generally. In discussing how digital technologies are radically reconfiguring work for millions of people around the globe, Mary also challenges the idea that digital technologies will inevitably render human labor obsolete in the future. Humans, she reminds us, do certain kinds of work that cannot be attended to by A.I. or other automated processes, and thus, they are likely to remain “in the loop” for many years to come.
How Digital Capitalism is Taking over our Lives: A Conversation with Jathan Sadowski
In this episode, Jenny Huberman speaks with Jathan Sadowski, a research fellow in the Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University and author of Too Smart: How Digital Capitalism is Extracting Data, Controlling Our Lives, and Taking Over the World. They discuss how digital capitalism is both similar to and different from, previous forms of capital accumulation and domination and they discuss some of the ways smart technologies are used to facilitate these processes. While Sadowski offers a trenchant critique of the way smart technologies are used to enhance corporate technocratic power, he also provides listeners with some paths for resisting, if not reforming capitalism in the digital age.
Unpacking the “Moral Economy of Work”: A Conversation with Liz Fouksman
Is work (as we know it) on its way out? Some certainly think so, and they have not hesitated to envision the kinds of lives and societies that would be possible in a world that is founded not on formal wage labor but something like universal basic income. But here is the thing: ethnographers in different parts of the world have found that many of the people who would benefit the most from such a shift are still very much committed to employment—they want money, but they would prefer that it be a wage and not a cash transfer. In this episode, Kelly chats with Dr. Liz Fouksman about enduring attachments to formal wage labor and what she calls the "moral economy of work" in South Africa and Namibia.
Liz Fouksman is a Lecturer in Social Justice at the Centre for Public Policy Research in the School of Education, Communication, and Society at King's College London. Her scholarship has appeared in various outlets, including Economy and Society, World Development, and Africa.
A fascinating exploration!
What a show!!!!
Love this show :-)
An Excellent Show!
This is an excellent podcast, bringing together awesome conversations centered around an interesting topic. This is a must listen!