SEA Annual Conference 2017

Financialization and Beyond: Debt, Money, Wealth, and the Capture of Value

When: April 6-8, 2017

Where: University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA

Prof. Paul Langley, Durham University, UK
The Financialization of the Social

Preliminary program /Call for papers / Paper and poster submission guidelines; Meeting format / Accommodations / Travel / Regional attractions / Contact Organizers 

The preliminary program is now set, but we welcome last-minute attenders of the conference. If you wish, you may register on site, although we are unable to accept cash or checks for registration.  To register in advance, please follow the below three steps.  If you register within several days of the conference, please print out a receipt to show to us. Thank you in advance.

  1. Go to and log in. If you don’t have a login id and password, create one (you do not need to join the American Anthropological Association).
  2. Once you are logged in, look to the left hand column, and click on Add Meeting Registration.
  3. Scroll down to 2017 SEA – Society for Economic Anthropology Spring Conference. Click on Register and then follow online prompts to register for the meeting.

BANQUET: The culmination of the conference is the banquet, held on Saturday evening at 7:00 pm. This is a relaxed event where attendees can enjoy good food and informal conversation. The banquet will be held at One Twenty-Six, a classic French American bistro in the heart of Iowa City. If you are interested in reserving a seat, you will need to pay for your meal ($45) when you reserve. But please hurry, space is limited. As of 25 March, there were 9 places remaining. To reserve, please take the following steps:

1. Login to your Anthro Gateway account (
2. Click on ADD WORKSHOP/EVENT on the left side.
3. Click add workshop in the new page.
4. The banquet should come up and you can proceed to check out.


April 6, Thursday

5:30                 KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Prof. Paul Langley, Durham University, UK
The Financialization of the Social

Illinois Room (348), Iowa Memorial Union

The global financial crisis acted as a spur to so-called ‘social finance’, a group of markets that are differentiated on the grounds of their ostensible social purpose. Financial markets are recast as a force for social good and, by way of response, critics suggest that the financialization of the social is underway in social policymaking, the social economy and global development programs. The presentation will offer a critical analysis of social finance that, contributing to research into processes of economization and marketization in economic geography and allied fields, foregrounds the alternative markets-in-the-making of social finance and furthers understanding of the spatial constitution of these markets. Taking place across and through space, geographies of marketization are typically explained in topographical terms as constituted through the crossing and pushing back of boundaries, both territorial and imagined. In contrast, the paper elaborates upon Gilles Deleuze’s concept of ‘the fold’ to develop a topological understanding of the spatial constitution of social financial markets. Rather than retreating as the apparent limits of the financial markets are extended, society is folded into the alternative marketizations of social finance. The folds of social finance are seams of inflection, hybrid entanglements where the social utility and values typically lacking from mainstream finance are variously spliced and stitched into alternative marketization processes. The ‘social’ is thus remade in social financial markets as an array of thoroughly liberal associations and subjectivities that are, at once, pluralist, ethical and entrepreneurial. 

7:00-8:00         Keynote Reception

North Room (181), Iowa Memorial Union

8:00                 SEA Board Dinner (for SEA Board members)

April 7, Friday

7:30                 Coffee; Registration and Check-in

2520D University Capitol Centre

8:00-8:20         Welcome and Intellectual Framing
Dolores B. Koenig, Fabio Mattioli, Aaron Z. Pitluck, and Daniel Souleles

2520D University Capitol Centre

8:20-11:55       Session 1: Market Efficiency, Market Devices, Market Theories

                       2520D University Capitol Centre

Moderated by Kate Browne, Colorado State University

8:20-8:40         Simone Polillo, University of Virginia
How Financial Economists Think Through Data: Towards a Theory of Data-Driven Knowledge

                        8:40-9:00         Discussion

9:00-9:20         Lena Rethel, University of Warwick and Princeton University
Knowledge and the Development of Capital Markets in Southeast Asia

                        9:20-9:40         Discussion

9:40-10:00       William Benton, College of William and Mary
Society in the Guarantee: Innovative loan support in Beirut

                        10:00-10:20     Discussion

                        10:20-10:35     Break

10:35-10:55     Christopher Smith, University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism
Money & Machines: How Automated Investment Advisors Are Transforming Wealth Management

                        10:55-11:15     Discussion

11:15-11:35     Ben Van Vliet and Rick Cooper, Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology, and Jonathan Seddon, Audencia Business School
Financialization, High Frequency Trading, and Price Discovery: How Much Market Efficiency is Enough?

                        11:35-11:55     Discussion

12:15-1:30       Business Lunch

Included in the registration fee, the business lunch is an opportunity to meet other SEA members and to learn about the activities of the SEA
Old Brick, 26 East Market Street.

Dolores Koenig, President SEA, general business of SEA
Ty Matejowsky, Schneider Award Chair (outgoing), presentation of awardees and their winning papers
Welcome of new Editor of the SEA journal, Economic Anthropology, Brandon Lundy
Hannah Marshall, SEA Student Board member, SEA Student Collective Platform Launch

2:00-4:55         Session 2: Gendering Finance and Biofinance Systems

2520D University Capitol Centre

Moderated by Carolyn Lesorogol, Washington University in St. Louis

2:00-2:20         Sibel Kusimba, American University
“It is Easy for Women to Ask”: Elite and Kenyan Views of Gendered Finance

                        2:20-2:40         Discussion

2:40-3:00         Smitha Radhakrishnan, Wellesley College
Of Loans and Livelihoods: Gendered Labor in Frontier Finance

                        3:00-3:20         Discussion

3:20-3:35         Break

3:35-3:55         Risa Cromer, Stanford University
Valuing the Potential of Excess Embryos within Reproductive Remainder Economies

                        3:55-4:15         Discussion

                        4:15-4:35         Andrew Ofstehage, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Financialization of Work, Value, And Social Relations Among Transnational Soy Farmers in the Cerrado

                        4:35-4:55         Discussion

5:30-7:30         Poster Session and Reception (poster authors and titles)
Nebraska Room (335), Iowa Memorial Union

 This plenary event begins at 5:45, with the reception opening at 5:30. Come grab a glass, food, and chat with colleagues.

April 8, Saturday

7:30                 Coffee; Registration and Check-in

2520D University Capitol Centre

8:30-12:05       Session 3A: Local Reinterpretations of Financialization

                        1117 University Capitol Centre (International Commons)

Moderated by Richard Wallace, California State University-Stanislaus

8:30-8:50         Rachel Goodman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Microfinancialization? How Financial Techniques Can be Made to Support Local Economic Systems in Northern India

                        8:50-9:10         Discussion

9:10-9:30         Maia Green, Manchester University
Ritual, Formalization and Framing: Accounting for the Proliferation of Village Savings Associations

                        9:30-9:50         Discussion

9:50-10:10       Nora Haenn, North Carolina State University
“Putting Money to Work”: How Local Elites in Mexico Try to Capture Migratory Wealth, How Migrant Families Resist This, and the Values this Encounter Reveals

                        10:10-10:30     Discussion

                        10:30-10:45     Break

10:45-11:05     Hsain Ilahiane, University of Kentucky
The Symbolism of the Islamic Notion of Riba (Usury) and Financial Bricolage in Morocco

                        11:05-11:25     Discussion

11:25-11:45     Zenia Kish, Stanford University
Compassionate Capitalists: The Financial Sector that “Feels Like a Social Movement

                        11:45-12:05     Discussion

8:30-12:05       Session 3B: Old Money, New Money, and its Discontents

                        2520D University Capitol Centre

Moderated by Bram Tucker, University of Georgia

8:30-8:50         Ana Flavia Badue, City University of New York Graduate Center and Florbela Ribeiro, Universidade de Sao Paulo
Ambiguities of Bolsa Familia: Gendered Redistribution and Family Debt in Sao Paulo

                        8:50-9:10         Discussion

9:10-9:30         Joanne Baron, University of Pennsylvania
Making Money in Mesoamerica: Currency Production and the Classic Maya Financial System

                        9:30-9:50         Discussion

9:50-10:10       Laura Mann, London School of Economics
Social Dislocation and the Protective Response: Smartcards on Informal Buses in Nairobi and Johannesburg

                        10:10-10:30     Discussion

                        10:30-10:45     Break

10:45-11:05     Richard Robbins, State University of New York-Plattsburgh
Money and Its Discontents: A Journey to London, South Park and Chicago

                        11:05-11:25     Discussion

11:25-11:45     Allison Truitt, Tulane University
Money’s New Alchemy:   The Indian Gold Coin and the Vietnamese SJC Tael

                        11:45-12:05     Discussion

12:05-1:30       Lunch on your own, and
SEA Student Collective Workshop and Platform Launch
in 2520D University Capitol Centre

1:30-4:25         Session 4: Theorizing Financialization: States and the Finance Industry

2520D University Capitol Centre

Moderated by Cindy Isenhour, University of Maine

1:30-1:50         Sandy Smith-Nonini, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Oil Price, Affordability and the 2008 Financial Crisis: Fossil Capitalism as a Complex System

                        1:50-2:10         Discussion

2:10-2:30         Francesco Findeisen, Sciences Po-Paris
Building the State: Realizing Metropolitan Infrastructure after the Financial Crisis

                        2:30-2:50         Discussion

2:50-3:05         Break

3:05-3:25         Emily Katzenstein, University of Chicago
Race, Risk and Subprime

                        3:25-3:45         Discussion

3:45-4:05         Don Kalb, Central European University and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Financialization and the Birth of Capitalism: A Historical Provocation

                        4:05-4:25         Discussion

4:25-5:00         Concluding Discussion on Financialization and Beyond

7:00-9:00         Banquet at One Twenty Six, 126 East Washington Street.

Pre-registration of banquet tickets required.



Finance is hard to escape. In recent years, the increasing social impact and interconnection of ?nancial discourses, markets, actors, and institutions have been understood under the broad concept of financialization. Natascha van der Zwan identifies three distinct research streams that have approached financialization as 1) a regime of accumulation, 2) the influence of financial markets and instruments on non-financial corporations as well as the banking and finance industry, and 3) a discourse of risk-taking, self-management and self-fulfillment that is transforming people into investing subjects. Some anthropological skeptics, however, argue that finance has a far longer genealogy than the financialization literature has to date recognized. For example, in the context of a lengthy human history of creating hierarchy, financialization may simply be a new technology serving an old purpose.

On behalf of the Society for Economic Anthropology, and in co-sponsorship with the International Sociological Association’s Economy and Society Research Committee, we aim to put in dialogue divergent visions of what constitutes finance and financialization, and how finance and financialization impact our societies. The program committee especially welcomes scholarship from anthropologists (in all sub-fields), sociologists, scholars in the social studies of finance, and other social scientists who do not necessarily self-identify as financialization scholars, but whose work provides comparative, historical, ethnographic, or quantitative insights into the workings of finance and financialization.

As an initial organizing tool we have divided areas of potential contributions into three categories of inquiry. These are not exclusive categories and we welcome contributions that don’t readily fit in what we outline.


  • Finance predates capitalism. Therefore, what are relevant cross-cultural, historical, and archaeological cases which help illuminate our current moment?
  • Tracing who owes what to whom is as old as the discipline of anthropology. Do new financial instruments such as credit default swaps share forms and logics with older kinds of reciprocities?
  • Are the new instruments of finance comparable to those found in the cultural and archaeological record, and especially to other forms of debt?
  • Numerous scholars have argued that financialization is creating new subjects and selfhoods, accompanied by a shift of risk from states to households. What are the material objects, spaces, and infrastructures that translate financial abstraction into new ways of understanding personhood?

Wealth, Money, and Financial Instruments

  • Does financialization alter our comprehension of what kind of social organization goes with what type of wealth—a leitmotif in the comparative study of human societies, particularly since the rise of agriculture?
  • How can we interpret potentially novel forms of financial innovation, such as Islamic finance and banking?
  • How do ideologies such as shareholder value or social finance transform economic practices?
  • How do non-elites use new forms of money (such as phone cards, paypal, gift cards, local currencies) to alter hierarchies or seek alternative forms of wealth accumulation? How and with what consequences are elites transforming money’s materiality?

Depoliticization and the Capture of Value

  • Many have noted that financialization promotes a depoliticizing process, in which state services, formerly held accountable to government, are now being replaced by private markets. How do these processes compare to other instances of political drift and shift that have come with new modes of abstraction?
  • How is finance racializing and gendering? Where can we observe moments of openness, where finance can be emancipatory?
  • What kind of ethics, politics, and social goals do financial elites envision? How do these compare to those brought into being by classes that dominate the wealth and financial systems in different cultural or economic contexts? What new forms of informality are promoted by financialization?
  • The supply chains of financial products connect different places and political projects across the globe. How do such financial instruments transform social life?

We request abstracts for both papers and posters on these topics. Please indicate whether your abstract is for a paper, a poster or either. Proposed papers must pertain to the meeting theme. SEA also welcomes poster abstracts on any aspect of economic anthropology.

Publishing Opportunity

The Society for Economic Anthropology publishes Economic Anthropology, a peer reviewed journal published electronically via the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Each year Economic Anthropology dedicates one of its two issues to the theme of the SEA meeting. A special issue on financialization will be developed from select conference presentations.


Fabio Mattioli, New York University, fabio.mattioli[at]nyu[dot]edu
Aaron Z. Pitluck, Illinois State University, Aaron.Pitluck[at]IllinoisState[dot]edu
Daniel Souleles, Brandeis University, dsouleles[at]brandeis[dot]edu


Abstract submission deadline is December 15, 2016: submit via instructions below

Abstracts of proposed papers and posters should be no more than 500 words. Abstracts are advised to include the following information: problem statement or theoretical frame, methodology, findings, and implications. If you submit a paper abstract, please indicate your willingness to present a poster if the organizers are unable to accommodate your paper in the plenary sessions. Poster sessions at SEA are taken very seriously, and most conference participants attend these sessions. In order to be considered for inclusion in the journal issue tied to this theme, please plan to have a complete, publishable-quality version of your paper ready at the time of the conference. Additional information for potential authors will follow.

To submit an abstract, you must first register for the conference through the AAA.

      1. Go to and log in.  If you don’t have a login id and password, create one (you do not need to join the American Anthropological Association).
      2.  Once you are logged in, look to the left hand column, click on Meeting registration.
      3.  Click on register under the SEA 2017 Annual Meeting then follow online prompts to register for the meeting (if we do not accept your abstract and you decide not to attend, you may request that your registration fee be refunded and we would be happy to do so).
      4.  Once you are registered, AAA will automatically send you an email inviting you to submit an abstract.  Click the link and follow the instructions.


The 2017 meeting of the SEA will be held April 6-8 on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. A block of 55 rooms (at $75) and four suites has been reserved at conference rates at the Iowa House Hotel on campus near the meeting location. Most of the reserved rooms have two beds; some have one king-size bed. To get the conference rate, you can use the website or call them. At, there is a prompt for the guest to enter a group code, in our case this is 1191. Rooms can also be reserved by telephone (319-335-3513) by March 16, 2017. Registrants need to mention that they are with the Society for Economic Anthropology.

The rooms will be released into general population March 16th.



The nearest airport is the Eastern Iowa Airport, which is about 20 miles from Iowa City. The airport website includes information about shuttles (most people use the Airport Shuttle Service), taxis, and rental cars. Another possibility for registrants traveling by air is the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, about 60 miles from Iowa City. Information about parking and how to get to the Iowa House Hotel by car from various directions (including from the Eastern Iowa Airport) can be found on the hotel’s website.


More information to come  


Fabio Mattioli, New York University, fabio.mattioli[at]nyu[dot]edu
Aaron Z. Pitluck, Illinois State University, Aaron.Pitluck[at]IllinoisState[dot]edu
Daniel Souleles, Brandeis University, dsouleles[at]brandeis[dot]edu

Image of Money Origami by is used under a Creative Commons license.