The Uniqueness of Humanity examines the human condition through the lens of evolutionary theory. Darwin's work appears to ally evolution with advance, and we are often compelled to place humanity at the top of a hierarchy. Is…Continue
Come read and discuss an essay by Horacio Ortiz and myself posted online in separate parts, either here or on my website.
We review developments in the anthropology of money and finance over the last century, listing its achievements, shortcomings and prospects. Since the 1960s, anthropologists have tended to restrict themselves to niche fields and marginal debates.…Continue
An earlier essay, ‘Manifesto for a human economy‘, deals explicitly with the object, theory and methods of a human economy approach. Here I examine some of the precedents for such an approach in the history of modern revolutions, drawing on Kant, Jefferson, Tocqueville, James and Gandhi.
‘Human economy’ is one way of taking forward the great conversation about making a better world.…Continue
Added by Keith Hart on July 4, 2013 at 11:00am — No Comments
I will first explain what I mean by saying that the informal economy, a concept I was associated with coining in the early 1970s, has taken over the world, largely as a result of neoliberal deregulation over the last three decades (pp. 1-3). After a brief account of my own early exposure to West Africa (pp. 3-5), I turn to the question of how and why Africa has long been a symbol of global inequality. Even after independence, Africans are still waiting from emancipation (pp. 5-10). Even so…Continue
Added by Keith Hart on June 6, 2013 at 3:24pm — No Comments
Nate Roberts posted a link on Facebook to a recent piece by Paul Krugman essentially saying that he once thought Naomi Klein's views on neoliberalism were extreme, but now he thinks she could be right. This led me to look up an Anthropology Today editorial I published in…Continue
Added by Keith Hart on May 19, 2013 at 9:30am — No Comments
Ronald Coase, an American economist of British origin, won a Nobel prize for inventing the idea of transaction costs in his famous paper "The nature of the firm" (1937). He is now 102 years old and has just announced his desire, with a young Chinese associate, to found a new journal called "Man and the economy" (well he was born in 1910).
A century ago, Alfred Marshall, author of Principles of Economics (1890) and Keynes' teacher at Cambridge defined economics as “both a study of…Continue
I am a fully paid-up member of the Karl Polanyi fan club. In the past few years I have published, with my collaborators, a collection of essays on the significance of The Great Transformation for understanding our times (Blanc 2011, Holmes 2012) and have made him a canonical figure for my versions of economic anthropology, the human economy and the history of money. I have also published two short biographical articles on him. I have contributed in this way to the recent outpouring of…Continue
Added by Keith Hart on January 16, 2013 at 6:37pm — No Comments
The idea of an informal economy was born at the moment when the post-war era of developmental states was drawing to a close. The 1970s were a watershed between three decades of state management of the economy and the free market decades of one-world capitalism that ended with the financial crisis of 2008. It seems now that the economy has escaped from all attempts to make it publicly accountable. What are the forms of state that can regulate a world of money that is now essentially lawless?…Continue
An unpublished essay in French, "To live in order to understand", by Germaine Tillion (1907-2008) from Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2009. Preface by Tsvetan Todorov. An ethnographer of North Africa and historian, she joined the resistance in WW2 and was put in a concentration camp; she intervened against the Algerian genocide. Here she lays out a powerful and moving case for a humane methodology…Continue
A review of David Graeber Debt: The first 5,000 years (Melville House, New York, 2011, 534 pages)
Debt is everywhere today. What is “sovereign debt” and why must Greece pay up, but not the United States? Who decides that the national debt will be repaid through austerity programmes rather than job-creation schemes? Why do the banks get bailed out, while students and home-owners are forced to repay loans? The very word debt speaks of unequal power; and the world economic…Continue
Europe in the global economic crisis
I have been writing about the euro for a decade (Hart 2002, 2007a, 2012), always from a critical perspective, since I have long believed that a single currency cannot address the needs of a large and diverse region. Moreover, the European Union’s ambition to transcend national capitalism by becoming a federal power in the world economy was always compromised by yoking member states to a system whose logic harks back to the gold standard.…Continue
Added by Keith Hart on June 9, 2012 at 11:06am — No Comments
First issue The Human and the Social with downloadable essays by Viveiros de Castro, Kwon, Kasuga, Mol, Jensen and Morita. Excellent.
Added by Keith Hart on June 4, 2012 at 8:51pm — No Comments
I am coming round to a view of anthropology as a mixture of late Durkheim and Jung. It's why what the others call ethnography is not what we do and what anthropologists do is to some extent occult, so we hide it like a dirty secret when it is in fact the source of why we get it right more often. How do we turn the bits of concrete fieldwork, the individuals and events, into a partial vision of the whole society we study? By immersing ourselves in the social life and conversations of a place…Continue
Two members of the University of Witwatersrand African Centre for Migration and Society asked how foreign migrants to South Africa cope with hostility sometimes amounting to xenophobia. In this short version of a longer journal article, they come up with the answer -- tactical cosmopolitanism -- and offer a list of its characteristics. As I read this and…Continue
Over on nettime-l, a list for those who once thought "tactical media" was the way forward, the old question of men and machines has been revived with due acknowledgment to Marshall McLuhan. One contributor exclaimed that "of course the machines won" and another said this was "simplistic Luddite rubbish". This was my response.
I can't speak for Mark Stahlman, but I don't imagine that anyone who can write so interestingly…Continue