21st International Conference of Europeanists: Resurrections. Washington, D.C., USA
March 14-16, 2014. Organized by the Council for European Studies.
Panel: Resurrecting the Sociality of Debt and Credit
Debt and credit possess a promethean social valence: if on the one hand they are the basis of social life in human economies, on the other they constitute forms of structural violence and dispossession. In this session, we explore the various processes through which the sociality of debt has been expanded and rediscovered in various forms around Europe over the last five years.
Since 2008, bursting property bubbles, credit crunches and debt crises have caused a proliferation of "dominating" or "contractual" forms of debt and credit, but these have also pushed actors to rediscover alternative social underpinnings of credit and debt relations. Practices of informal lending, never fully absorbed into advanced capitalist finance, have resurged as an important form of grassroots debt management; alternative currencies have reshaped both the discourses and practices of circulation in post-crisis settings (Greece, Italy, Spain, among others). Further the “sociality” of financial centers has been exposed by numberless accusations of corruption, as well as last minute bailouts of elite banks by elite governments.
In this panel we look at the resurrection, and reemergence, of the "social" in debt and credit relations - not because "financial" credit and debt were ever a-social, but because we want to explore the new ways in which different domains of social life intersect and are brought together through debt and credit relations.
We focus specifically on three types of resurgence:
1) The resurgence of moral discourses around debt and credit. How does the explicit moralization of financial lending impact conceptions of economic life, specifically shaping ideas of property and personhood? How does it reshape "formal" economics as economic theorists from Keynes to Minsky are brought back into circulation? What kind of ideas of risk, rationality, responsibility or sovereignty are being recalled to justify (or condemn) investments?
2) The resurrection of institutional assemblages of debt and credit. The state has proved an influential player from socialising banking sector debt to supporting speculative bubbles. Yet alternative grassroots movements have proposed different institutional arrangements - from new regulatory forms, to alternative currencies. At the same time, strong interest groups and cliques of elites have enlarged their networks of "reciprocities". How are institutions being reformulated by these competing tendencies? How are state agencies, banks, international financial institutions, but also labor organizations and households being reassembled through debt and credit relations?
3) The resurrection of submerged reciprocities. Debt and credit relations link together different domains of social life creating new practices of exchange and new sources of value. As "solidarity economics", alternative practices, and informal networks of mutual help try to mitigate the 2008 crash, different spheres of exchange are created. How are new kinds of conversion made possible? What domains are reconstituted anew - and how? What practices of conversions, and which technologies, allow for these non-equivalent transactions? How do "corrupt" and "grassroot" or "alternative" exchange practices embed differently debt and credit into social relations?
If interested, please submit an abstract of 250 words by SEPTEMBER 1st 2013 to both
Charlotte Johnson c.johnson [at] ucl.ac.uk
Fabio Mattioli fmattioli [at] gc.cuny.edu