Cambridge-Max Planck Exchange
for Economic Life (CaMP)


CaMP is a long-term collaboration between the Department of Economic Experimentation at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Germany) and the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge (UK). We seek to build a dynamic professional community of ethnographers to discuss future directions for the study of economic life; foster innovative modes of research; and develop new forms of public engagement. CaMP is committed to the exploration of questions that are of common concern to ethnographers and the people with whom they conduct research.

Social anthropology provides valuable ethnographic insight into the social, political, and cultural processes that inform economic life. CaMP explores how a refined and reinvigorated anthropological method might shed new light on processes of economic change and experimentation in the contemporary world. We draw on ethnography conducted in a diverse range of societies to develop new research questions, innovative methods, and novel styles of analysis and writing. CaMP is interested in the possibilities afforded by public participation in the production of such research, and interrogates the lived relationship between matters of economy; experiences of power and politics; culture and identity; and thought and imagination.

CaMP builds on a history of collaboration between anthropologists in Halle and Cambridge, and is led by Christoph Brumann, Sian Lazar, Andrew Sanchez, and Biao Xiang. The group builds on the complementary strengths of the institutions. The Department of Economic Experimentation at the MPI seeks to advance anthropology through direct engagement with public debates and by supporting postdoctoral level research projects. The Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge has traditionally focused its efforts on conceptual innovation, supporting case studies of diverse approaches, and doctoral training. 

The CaMP initiative seeks to build a community of practice among its participants in Cambridge and Halle, that facilitates creativity, stimulates thought, and provides professional and intellectual support. CaMP  is comprised of scholars at all career stages, and is structured around visiting scholars programs, regular workshops, and other modes of collaboration such as shared writing and research projects.

The current research projects of CaMP participants explore imaginations of economic futures; crises and decline; hope and cynicism; innovative forms of political and economic struggle; economic experimentation; conceptions of value; rights and claims to resources; satisfaction and wellbeing; labour and employment; engagements with urban space and heritage; technology and infrastructure; popular economies; liberalization and its responses.

-- June 2023

CaMP-01: Critical Agendas in Economic Anthropology (25/26 May 2023), report and programme.

CaMP-02: What Do People Want? (11/12 January 2024), report and programme.

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