Rethinking Economic Anthropology: a human centred approach

This conference aims to rethink economic anthropology. As the concluding event in the UK’s ESRC-funded series “Rethinking Economies”, its objective is to build on the traditional strengths of economic anthropology, connecting the complexities of local situations to the grand sweep of global movements.

We seek to challenge the idea that the neo-liberal model of capitalism corresponds to a singular version of empirical reality. To this end we will explore how capitalism functions in several key sites of both “core” and “periphery” from an ethnographic perspective, juxtaposing the actions and beliefs of people to the effects of money and machines. A variety of forms and relations will be explored in marketplaces, corporations, factories and fields. Questions of economic ‘transition’ will be confronted with a variety of local histories and specific responses to global shifts.

These ethnographically grounded explorations will fuel an engaged critique of mainstream economics and, we hope, will help us establish a robust agenda for understanding the lived economies of the world. This means moving beyond anthropological nostalgia, engaging with developments in the discipline outside Britain, connecting with other voices of dissent and providing a coherent intellectual alternative to the neo-liberal, formalist consensus.

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