Peripheral Debt: money, risk and politics in Eastern Europe

Speaker: Marek Mikuš
12.11.2019 at 16:15, Main Seminar Room 
Presentation at Anthropological Workshop/Werkstatt Ethnologie

October 31, 2019

This talk introduces Peripheral Debt: Money, Risk and Politics in Eastern Europe, a recently launched DFG Emmy Noether research group project that will conduct a comparative ethnographic study of household debt in the context of peripheral financialization in Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The group aims to fill three gaps in the anthropological scholarship on household debt. First, it will explore the role of money in household lending practices typical for Eastern Europe, such as foreign-currency, variable-interest and payday loans. This will reveal how money functions as a special kind of commodity embedded in unequal social and geographic relations. Second, the group will document how these and other practices enabled the heightened transfer of risk to Eastern European households, and how the crisis made this visible and transformed actors’ practices towards risk. Finally, it will study the reformist and often nationalist and populist politics of household debt in Eastern Europe, which differs from the politics of Western anti-debt movements documented so far. Using a historical anthropological approach, Peripheral Debt will explain why and how such modes of contestation developed in response to peripheral financialization. By exploring them in relation to state efforts to govern debt through financial education and market-based solutions, the group will also contribute to the anthropological literature on the state, civil society and social movements.(Speaker's abstract)

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