Monday, April 9, 2018

Week 12 & 13 - Mushroom at the end of the world

What does Tsing mean by the statement that precarity is the predominant mode of living in the contempary world (describe using examples)? How does Tsing describe the commodity chain of the matsutake mushrooms? How are different lives entangled in the accumulation and circulation of the mushrooms? What can the study of the matsutake mushroom global market tell us about the limits and unintended possibilities within the capitalist economy?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Week 11 - Gender and Finance

Discuss how John Osburg describes the performance of masculinity by Chinese entrepreneurs (Chapter 2). How do sexuality and the market play out for women involved in the beauty economy (Chapter 5)?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Week 10 - Credit / Debt and Microfinance

In this week's readings, Ananya Roy notes how "economies of need are transformed into economies of profit and how collective resources are recalibrated as channels of privatization" (p. 107). Use examples from the readings (both Roy and Elyachar) to describe how these processes are taking place. Discuss in particular how microfinance is one growing area of global capital that exemplifies this predicament.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Week 9 - Globalization and Uneven Development

In Space of Hope, David Harvey outlines some of the characteristics of post-1970s global capitalism, what we have also come to describe as "neoliberalism". Describe some of these features. In chapter 8, Harvey focusses more specifically on the city of Baltimore and describes the transformations of the city and its urban geography. What are some of the historical transformations that have impacted the deterioration of Baltimore city? How do broader changes in the economy effect these changes in Baltimore as well as other postindustrial cities.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Week 7 - Work in a Neoliberal Economy

What's it like to "work" in a neoliberal economy? How does gender play into contemporary forms of labor in different parts of the world? What are some characteristics of neoliberalism as an economic system and as everyday experience?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Week 6 - Capitalism and Social Relations

June Hee Kwon notes that, among Korean Chinese couples living long-distance due to labor migration, "waiting is an immaterial, but nonetheless, an important form of unwaged, profit-producing labor". How does she describe the waiting of the botoli (the spouses who stay behind) as a form of work? How are intimate relationships affected and shaped by the patterns of labor migration and remittance sending?

The editors of "Generating Capitalism" essays note that: "Our focus is on how the generative powers of the body, spirit, and world are imagined, deployed, and experienced in contemporary capitalism." Discuss how different essays in this thread achieve this goal.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week 5 - A Cultural Approach to Capitalism

(Tuesday) Max Weber notes "this peculiar idea of a duty to have a vocational calling, so familiar to us today but actually not at all self-evident, is the idea that is characteristic of the "social ethic" of modern capitalist culture" (81). What is the "ethic" or "spirit" or "frame of mind" that Weber tried to describe in these chapters? How is this ethic central to the rise and triumph of capitalism?

(Thursday) Jean and John Comaroff write about a new moment in the history of (global) capitalism which they describe as "millennial capitalism". What are some of the distinctive features of millennial capitalism? What are some of the economic structures (think Marx) and the ethos (think Weber) that characterizes millennial capitalism?