New York University, The Institute for Public Knowledge
The Cultures of Finance Working Group is an interdisciplinary effort to study the historical, technical, and social configurations of finance. Members include scholars from across the social sciences and humanities who are interested in engaging with recent work in the social studies of finance. Alongside technical devices, the group considers the ways in which cultures of finance circulate through ethical, political, social and discursive forms. Through a series of member meetings, public lectures, and special conferences, Cultures of Finance explores innovative research methods and develops research programs to address the complexity of what Arjun Appadurai has termed the global financescape.
While early social scientific work on the economy did not draw a distinction between the social and the economic, a domain called the economy has been gradually cordoned off and subjected to increasingly technical arrangements, modes of calculation, and expert knowledge in the post-War era. One remarkable result of these interventions has been the emergence of vast circuits of financial action. In addition to technological apparatuses, constructed to resolve the smooth flow of capital across space and time, new knowledges, regimes of valuation, laws, and subjectivities have also been generated, accompanying the rise in the global circuits of circulating capital.
Following the unprecedented rate of economic growth through the last 25 years, fueled by the explosive boom of financial forms of capital, we find ourselves in the ubiquitous company of finance. Home mortgages, student loans, credit cards, credit scores, retirement funds, and microfinance, once sequestered in specialized places, these activities and objects of capital markets have seeped into the spaces of everyday life. It is in the history of the evolving financescape (marked by a push towards ever increasing financialization) and its uncertain future (made visible through the contemporary credit crisis) that the Cultures of Finance Working Group finds its terrain.