The Human Economy

A forum to discuss the agenda laid out in a new book, The Human Economy: A Citizen's Guide.

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Latest Activity: Jan 22

Discussion Forum

Review article of David Graeber's Debt book featuring human economy 2 Replies

I have published this article-length review of Debt: The first 5,000 years as…Continue

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by Erin B. Taylor Nov 20, 2012.

Conroy on informal economy (continued) 12 Replies

A chance to extend the seminar conversation around John…Continue

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by John Conroy May 27, 2012.

The human economy in a revolutionary moment 10 Replies

The human economy in a revolutionary moment: political aspects of the economic crisisThis is the edited transcript of an improvised talk for a seminar, “Social movements and the solidarity economy”,…Continue

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by Oscar González Feb 12, 2012.

Comment Wall

Comment by Keith Hart on April 20, 2011 at 9:15am
Mallika Shakya's review of The Human Economy has now been published by OAC Press and can be discussed here or in the OAC Book Reviews Group.
Comment by Huon Wardle on December 15, 2011 at 6:22pm

Erin Taylor (an OACer) and colleagues have taken an interesting step in the study of money; they are looking at the aesthetics of electronic money (mobile phone money in this case) in Haiti. I have longstanding interest in the aesthetics of money: it is also a longterm concern of my colleague and friend here in St Andrews, Emilia Ferraro, who works in Ecuador. But I think there are important issues in this synthesis of the aesthetic, the quantitative and the new electronic forms of money abstraction: these need further thought:

Comment by Keith Hart on December 15, 2011 at 10:19pm

Thanks for posting this link, Huon. I was alerted to the paper at the time of the AAA meetings and I agree that it is very interesting as well as being lucid and new.

I got the impression that the aesthetic side of mobile money was less compelling than its practical use in making new kinds of social connection. I too noted that Haitains are on the whole more numerate than literate. It was a relief not to be told again how good it all is for the poor, although Erin promises this in future.

If you get a chance, I would like you to say more about the synthesis this approach might point to. I wonder if it has anything to do with your fascinating account of the Jamaican numbers racket, Drop Pan, from which I have borrowed shamelessly in the past.

Comment by Nathan Dobson on December 19, 2011 at 12:27am

Everyone in the world seems to have taken it upon themselves to mark the double centenary of Dickens by linking his stories and characters to their own interests. Of all the tenuous links being made I was particularly struck by this recent article in the economist about Shujaaz in Kenya. Dickens and The Human Economy anyone?

Comment by Keith Hart on December 19, 2011 at 1:23pm

This is great stuff, Nathan, not least for the vibrancy and high volume circulation of this comic. I believe that the human economy must draw on literature as a model. There is a nice little book by Francis Wheen, Das Kapital: A Biography, where he claims that Marx synthesized political economy and the great novelists of the period, since fiction was indispensible to the project of capturing embryonic capitalism through a mix of science and critique. Noam Yuran, who appears here occasionally, wrote a great thesis on money which includes a chapter on Dickens in addition to ones on Marx, Weber, Veblen etc. As he shows, it is hard to beat the likes of Dickens, Balzac and Dostoevsky when it comes to humanizing the study of money. I can also recommend Marc Shell's The Economy of Literature which focuses on the ancient Greeks, but has always been a major source for me.

Comment by Nathan Dobson on December 20, 2011 at 10:16pm

Thanks for those links Keith.

One thing that stands out for me about these comics is that economics is present but secondary to the story; almost a by-product. This is quite different to a development initiative like "The financial diaries" project where it is up-front and in your face. Which one will be remembered and continue to influence people years down the line?

The boom in initiatives to offer financial services to the poor highlights the question Dickens asked 200 years ago: would the artful dodger have been any better off ditching Fagin and joining a decent pension scheme? 


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