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Current Research Working Groups

World Historical Perspectives on Financialization (Aman Banerji, Michael Cary, Phil McMichael, Fouad Makki)

Financialization has become an important concept for understanding the restructuring of global capitalism following the neoliberal turn. Yet, much like neoliberalism, the term functions as something of a vague signifier. Scholarship on financialization has highlighted varied processes including the increasing prevalence of accumulation patterns delinked from production, the deification of debt, and shifting forms of governance. This research working group seeks to complicate our understanding of these processes by asking to what extent financialization represents a truly qualitative shift in the structure of capitalism versus a mere expansion of its endemic economic forms. An interdisciplinary, global perspective that puts empirical case studies into conversation with world-historical sociology will enable the group to historicize these processes, advance their understanding of financialization’s uneven trajectory and complexify the capital-labour relation.  The group will connect scholars from a host of different disciplines interested in the implications of ‘modern’ financial instruments - from agricultural futures, interest rate swaps, hedge fund investments, cash transfers, and green bonds. 

 

Infrastructure, State, Cyborg (Jenny Goldstein, Mushahid Hussain, Kendra Kintzi, Sidney Madsen, Nidhi Subramanyan)

Infrastructures incarnate disparate and deeply contested social imaginaries, becoming nodes of expression that are interwoven into quotidian acts of making meaning and political acts of exercising voice.  A growing body of academic literature emphasizes the importance of theorizing infrastructures as socio-technical systems, complex assemblages of material, technical, and representational spaces that both shape, and are shaped by, constellations of social relations.  Unique to infrastructure is its role as an accumulated networks that shape the flow and movement of bodies, things, and ideas, requiring attention not only to the technical functions that infrastructures fulfill, but to the social imaginaries and representational spaces that they create.  This research working group will critically explore the discursive and material dimensions of infrastructural change and urban-rural transitions in postcolonial states, with particular attention to questions and histories of governance, modalities of social provisioning, and the production of urbanity.  By bringing together theoretical and methodological tools from development sociology, geography, anthropology, political ecology, and cultural studies, the group will contribute to 1) ethnographic understandings of institutions and inscription technologies, and 2) critical exploration of infrastructural development as a performative, power-laden practice.

 

Rural-Urban Interdependencies and Divides (David Kay, Robin Blakely-Armitage, Poppy McLeod, John Forester, Dan Lichter)

Over the next five years the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, in concert with the Provost’s Sustainability Task Force’s recommendations, will be exploring the role of resilient rural-urban systems in developing a holistic systems approach to sustainability. Our Polson Research Working Group (RWG) will use this next year to develop a proposal to submit to ACSF and possibly other funders to support our work. We are interested in approaching the topic holistically and along distinct thematic transects which manifest along the rural-urban spectrum. We will approach these through multiple disciplinary and place-oriented lenses to consider such issues as spatial and symbolic boundary setting, individual and group identity perception and stability, place attachment at different scales, demographic and other material processes that complicate these constructions, and more. Our intent is to lay the foundation for new collaborative research, teaching, and outreach projects.