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People, Money and Power in the Economic Crisis

People, Money and Power in the Economic Crisis: Perspectives from the Global South

Keith Hart
John Sharp
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    People, Money and Power in the Economic Crisis
    Book Description:

    The Cold War was fought between "state socialism" and "the free market." That fluctuating relationship between public power and private money continues today, unfolding in new and unforeseen ways during the economic crisis. Nine case studies -- from Southern Africa, South Asia, Brazil, and Atlantic Africa - examine economic life from the perspective of ordinary people in places that are normally marginal to global discourse, covering a range of class positions from the bottom to the top of society. The authors of these case studies examine people's concrete economic activities and aspirations. By looking at how people insert themselves into the actual, unequal economy, they seek to reflect human unity and diversity more fully than the narrow vision of conventional economics.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-468-7
    Subjects: Anthropology, Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface. The Human Economy Project
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    The world went into an economic recession in 1873. It mainly affected the United States (where it was known as a ‘long depression’ lasting until 1879) and Europe, especially Britain, which was considered to be in continuous depression for over two decades. It was known there as ‘The Great Depression’ of 1873 to 1896 and was widely thought to be global in scope (Capie and Wood 1997). In retrospect, economic historians view the last decades of the nineteenth century and the run up to the First World War as a time of tremendous expansion for the world economy, fuelled by...

  5. Chapter 1 After the Big Clean-Up: Street Vendors, the Informal Economy and Employment Policy in Zimbabwe
    (pp. 19-40)

    This chapter is an attempt by a social historian to contribute to new understandings of the economy that embrace holistic conceptions of everyone’s needs and interests. Employing a human economy perspective and focusing on the politics of street trading in a post-colonial African city, Bulawayo, I highlight how people insert themselves practically into their daily economic lives in ways that are invisible to, marginalized and repressed by the dominant, state-driven formal economic institutions and ideologies. Understanding the history of the development of the informal economy in Zimbabwe is thus crucial for an inclusive development policy that considers the circumstances of...

  6. Chapter 2 Immoral Accumulation and the Human Economy of Death in Venda
    (pp. 41-60)

    This chapter offers an ethnographic analysis of how poor, rural people in South Africa engage with and construct critical commentary around economic processes associated with funerals. I examine rumours that have been built around those who are thought to benefit financially from death and argue that such rumours speak to conceptions of illegitimate accumulation in a context of pervasive economic insecurity and growing inequality, widely perceived as a crisis of social reproduction. Whilst the rumours reveal concerns of an economic nature, they also point towards how funeral finances are gendered. Thus, the second half of the chapter focuses on the...

  7. Chapter 3 ‘Letting Money Work for Us’: Self-Organization and Financialization from Below in an All-Male Savings Club in Soweto
    (pp. 61-81)

    Global finance was previously obscure, beyond the well-documented roles of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Several recent financial crises, however, have now turned the eyes of academics, activists and citizens all over the world to how it shapes national currency fluctuations, the dynamics of national economies especially in the Global South, the prices of oil and other global commodities, and surging inflation. Anthropologists too have turned their attention to the social organization and culture of the trading pits and offices of stock and commodities exchanges in New York, Chicago and London, where currencies and financial products are traded...

  8. Chapter 4 Market, Race and Nation: History of the White Working Class in Pretoria
    (pp. 82-105)

    People who used to make up the white working class in Pretoria have fallen on hard times since the ending of apartheid in South Africa. Many of the industries in which they were given preferential employment for much of the twentieth century have been shut down, exposing them to a diminishing labour market in which they must compete directly with black jobseekers. They have lost most of the advantages that accrued to them in consequence of being classified as white and belonging to the Afrikaner volk (nation), and many black people have come to reside in their once carefully segregated...

  9. Chapter 5 Negotiating Inequality: The Contemporary Black Middle Classes in Salvador, Brazil
    (pp. 106-128)

    This chapter is about the emergence of contemporary black middle classes in a country whose government has pursued a social democracy that has been challenged recently. I explore the fluctuating relationship between market, state and society through the particular experiences of this group. Brazil’s middle classes are said to be undergoing rapid expansion due to monetary stabilization, economic and industrial growth, generation of more formal employment and availability of flexible credit (The Economist, 14 February 2009, 3–4). For example, the Getúlio Vargas Foundation reported that some fifty million Brazilians have joined the middle and upper classes in the last...

  10. Chapter 6 Live Music in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Cape Verde
    (pp. 129-150)

    The alternative rock band Radiohead makes a surprising decision: fans are allowed to determine how much the band’s latest album is worth. An MP3 file of the albumIn Rainbowsis available for (legal) digital download with no price tag.The Sunday Timespublishes an article commenting on the occurrence. The editorial’s point is clearly stated: if musicians are giving their own products away, this can only mean there is a crisis in the record industry. The newspaper piece is sharply entitled: ‘The day the music industry died’ (Sandall 2007).

    It is jazz night at the Blue Room. Despite being...

  11. Chapter 7 Congo-Gauteng: Congolese Migrants in South Africa
    (pp. 151-172)

    This chapter gives an overview of migration from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to South Africa concentrating on one region, Gauteng. Our research is primarily based on ethnographic fieldwork by the authors, with additional material from the library and the press.

    Outside of frontier states, South Africa is the principal destination for the Congolese. Migration there is the subject of a voluminous body of literature (e.g. Gelderblom et al. 2006). Yet despite this and the large numbers of Congolese in South Africa, relatively little has been written about this migration stream. People on the move represent a striking feature...

  12. Chapter 8 Neither Nationals nor Cosmopolitans: The Political Economy of Belonging for Mozambican Indians
    (pp. 173-189)

    This chapter examines the tension in Mozambique between the consolidation of an internal state-based economy and participation in a wider global economy by examining the historical role of merchants of Indian descent, primarily since independence in 1975.¹ I trace the seemingly contradictory ways in which ideas of full citizenship for Mozambican Indians affect and are affected by political and economic shifts. In the early independence period, the ruling Frelimo (Mozambique Liberation Front) party pursued a Jacobin citizenship policy, which insisted Indians were full members of the polity. However, as the party concentrated on state-based accumulation, many Indian merchants were viewed...

  13. Chapter 9 Marwari Traders between Hindu Neoliberalism and Democratic Socialism in Nepal
    (pp. 190-206)

    Having been for long a relatively isolated Himalayan kingdom, Nepal has undergone radical political change more than once in its recent history. Nepal’s feudal rulers, the Ranas, made an alliance with the British Raj from the 1850s, as a result of which they annexed lands of mixed population on Nepal’s border with India. At the same time, Marwaris from Rajasthan, members of one of the most powerful trading networks in South Asia, were invited into the new border towns from where they developed an alliance with the Nepali ruling family and the East India Company. A century later in 1961,...

  14. References
    (pp. 207-224)
  15. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 225-226)
  16. Index
    (pp. 227-233)