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Beyond debt and equity

Dissecting the red herring and a path forward for normative critiques of finance

Aaron Z. Pitluck

A recurring leitmotif in the social sciences, as well as in diverse theologies and the secular humanities, is a normative discourse that condemns debt and praises equity. For example, predating Judaism, iska contracts were designed to avoid

Open access

The emergence of the global debt society

Governmentality and profit extraction through fabricated abundance and imposed scarcity in Peru and Spain

Ismael Vaccaro, Eric Hirsch, and Irene Sabaté

This article is about debt and its effects on the indebted people and communities that are subject to it. The unprecedented global growth of the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries was sustained, at a national but also a

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On money debt and morality

Some reflections on the contribution of economic anthropology

Chris A. Gregory

Peebles, in a recent review of the anthropology of debt and credit, found an ‘astonishing consistency’ in the moral valuation of credit which is everywhere given a positive evaluation relative to debt. But why is this? Does it apply to creditors as well? What are the theoretical implications of these questions for economic anthropology?

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An anthropological contribution to rethinking the relationship between money, debt, and economic growth

Richard H. Robbins

“Before there was money, there was debt. Before there was an American republic, there was America’s national debt. Over the last three decades, the neoliberal reordering of political economy produced a ‘debtor nation,’ a ‘republic of debtors

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Debt collection as labour discipline

The work of finance in a Myanmar squatter settlement

Stephen Campbell

Critical studies of development in the global South have called attention to the failure of existing modernisation projects to deliver on promises of full employment in well‐remunerated wage labour. Despite this shortfall in formal employment, non‐normative labour forms have proliferated globally, alongside mass expansion of financial markets since the late 20th century. In the present article, I take up these multiple trends as interrelated phenomena, inquiring into the work of finance in the extraction of value where individuals labour outside of formal employment. The argument, in brief, is that manifold debt relations have facilitated an effective extraction of value from non‐normative forms of capitalist labour in the informal economy. This argument contrasts with positions that see informal labour as non‐capitalist, or posit such labour as lying outside class relations of exploitation. Ethnographically, I engage these issues through a study of heterogeneous livelihoods among residents of a squatter settlement located in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Myanmar’s former capital, Yangon.

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The ‘age of the market’ and the regime of debt

The role of credit in the transformation of pastoral Mongolia1

David Sneath

Since the decollectivisation of the rural economy in the 1990s, Mongolian pastoralists have become subject to the new property regime of the ‘age of the market’ (). Formerly collective assets, such as livestock, machinery and buildings, have become private property and land is increasingly becoming a resource available for private ownership. International finance and development agencies have advocated credit schemes for pastoralists faced with uneven annual income and the servicing of debt has become a central burden for an increasing number of Mongolian households. In the neoliberal era, the pastoral sector has become highly vulnerable to climatic variation. The distribution of environmental risks alongside processes of collateralisation has expanded the sphere of monetised relations and made pastoralists dependent upon increasingly global markets for commodities and credit. This new regime of debt has interesting historical parallels with the Qing‐era barter trade that impoverished pre‐revolutionary Mongolia.

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Debt, Peonage and Dependency in the kafalah System

Hadrami Migratory Experience in Kuwait

Abdullah M. Alajmi

Studies of immigrants in Kuwait focus on structural aspects overlooking sociohistorical elements and meso-level relationships that develop through migration. This ethnography shows that the immigrant's perspective and the history of the relationship between the receiving society and the immigrant community are both essential for establishing broader and thicker analyses of reality. It argues that because Hadramis and Kuwaiti sponsors were historically linked in personal exchanges originating in the Kuwaiti domestic realm, the meaning and practices of sponsorship comprise a unique migratory and work experience. Normally the immigrant–sponsor relationship is conveyed in terms of pseudokinship, yet references to moral debts and dependency reveal forms of exploitation and dominance. Hadrami–Kuwaiti relationships do not produce significant economic outcomes for the sponsor. Rather, Hadramis are symbolically valued within local hierarchies. This symbolic value has sustained a solid Hadrami presence in Kuwait and secured an income for retiring immigrants at home.

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“Your debts are our problem”

The politicization of debt in Azerbaijan

Tristam Barrett

. The case was over the nonpayment of a dollar-denominated bank debt. The debtor had lost his job and absconded, so the court ordered the guarantor to repay the loan. Unable to repay it, he was found to be in contempt and threatened with imprisonment. He

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Empowering or impoverishing through credit

Small-scale producers and the Plan Chontalpa in Tabasco, Mexico

Gisela Lanzas and Matthew Whittle

asset. She quickly learned that the proximate factor leading to most land sales was debt: farmers had taken loans they were unable to repay. Heavily indebted farmers often lack the ability to continue to invest in production, so the land becomes

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The Debts of War

Bifurcated Veterans’ Mobilization and Political Order in Post-settlement El Salvador

Ralph Sprenkels

politics thus allowed for a platform on which to stage war contributions as historical debts owed by both party and state. Veterans at the top and at the bottom of the party hierarchy played distinct roles. As leaders drew on historical networks for