A discussion of Konings’ The Emotional Logic of Capitalism, Crosthwaite’s Speculative Investments, Konings’ The Emotional Logic of Capitalism, Yuran’s What Money Wants, and Hill and Montag’s The Other Adam Smith.
In many ways the contemporary financial economy does look like a machine. Think, for example, of its Bloomberg terminals, its automated trading systems, and its algorithm wars. But if global finance is a machine, then there is something irrational, something supernatural—even magical—about the way it operates. It’s not just the periodic bouts of mania, panic, and crisis; nor is it the apparently endless drive to accumulate, to conjure more and more wealth out of a void. It’s that in these and other processes, a range of psychic investments are at work—curious attachments that bind us to money, to projected futures, to imaginary orders, and ultimately, to the modes of power upon which capitalism depends. The magical parts make and move the mechanical whole. This, at least, is the controversial idea developed in a string of new books to which this forum is dedicated.
‘Money’s Other Worlds’ by Amin Samman, at the Stanford University Press blog.
This inaugural chapter on ‘Economic Criticism’ surveys books published (predominantly) in 2013 and 2014 that explore the relations between culture and economics. These relations have been growing preoccupations in critical and cultural theory over the past two decades, and especially since the global financial crisis of 2008. This chapter aims to provide an overview of the state of the field as it currently stands, and, in particular, to indicate how recent theoretical approaches have reassessed or moved beyond positions associated with the ‘New Economic Criticism’, which came to prominence in the 1990s. The chapter is divided into six sections: 1. Introduction; 2. Realism; 3. Discourse and Media; 4. Money; 5. Capital and Language; 6. Crisis.
This is the first appearance of a chapter on ‘Economic Criticism’ in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that it takes the place of previous chapters on ‘Marxism and Cultural Materialism’. This change of title reflects not so much a replacement of one topic by another, however, as an expansion in scope. All of the works under discussion in this chapter are deeply engaged with Marxist theory (and some with the traditions of cultural materialism, too), but to align them only with that banner would be to misrepresent the diversity of approaches that they take to the relations between culture and economics. Those relations have attracted the attentions of growing numbers of critical and cultural theorists over the last two decades—all the more so in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008—and this and future chapters aim to chart this exciting and rapidly developing field. […]
Paul Crosthwaite, Peter Knight and Nicky Marsh (2015), “Economic Criticism” in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory. Institutional access required.
An event in Edinburgh on 3 April with Dr Andrew Lawson and Professor Nicky Marsh, chaired by Dr Paul Crossthwaite. More details here!
‘Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present’ is a touring exhibition dedicated to mapping everything financial. It features images, illustrations, and visual media alike to give the visitor an altogether different and poignant impression of a little thing we call ‘money’. With the exhibition currently in the middle of its four-stop tour, USSO interviews Dr Paul Crosthwaite, one of the three academic investigators on the project.
“Meet the Curator: ‘Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present'” at US Studies Online.