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Message posted on 30/05/2019

Special Issue CFP: ‘Finance Capital and the Ghosts of Empire’

[With apologies for cross-posting]
Special Issue CFP: ‘Finance Capital and the Ghosts of Empire’

Deadline for abstracts: Friday June 28 2019

We invite interested parties to submit an abstract to be included in a Special Issue proposal that gathers cutting-edge interdisciplinary thinking about the intersections of finance and colonialism, empire and race. In addition to the typical 9,000 word (including citations) peer-reviewed article, there are also opportunities for book reviews, review articles and shorter interventions.

The Special Issue will be targeted towards Journal of Cultural Economy, Finance & Society or ephemera. This proposal follows on from a 2017 gathering at Goldsmiths (“Colonial Debts, Imperial Insolvencies, Extractive Nostalgias”), a 2018 special focus section of Discover Society, and a recent 2019 gathering at Sussex (“Finance Capital and the Ghosts of Empire”), and we explicitly invite submissions from those who did not or were unable to participate in either of these events.

To propose a 200-word abstract for consideration, please use the following form:

For more information, please contact: or

Abstracts are due June 28, 2019. We will endeavour to have responses to applicants by mid-July and seek drafts by October 15, 2019, towards the goal of publication in 2020. We welcome contributions from a wide diversity of disciplines across the social sciences and also from the humanities as well.

● Dr Clea Bourne (Senior Lecturer in Promotional Media, Goldsmiths, University of London)

● Dr Paul Gilbert (Lecturer in International Development, University of Sussex)

● Dr Max Haiven (Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Lakehead University)

● Dr Johnna Montgomerie (Reader in International Political Economy, King’s College, London)


· BOOK PROJECT: The editors are, simultaneously, working on an edited collection of short, accessible essays oriented around images (historical or contemporary, documentary or artistic) to be published in a book that guides newcomers to an understanding of the interconnections of debt, empire, colonialism, finance and race. For more information, and to contribute a proposal, please visit:

· PODCAST: The editors are pleased to present a podcast and downloadable audio version of the proceedings of April’s “Finance Capital and the Ghosts of Empire” symposium:


Has the emerging interdisciplinary field of critical study of finance, debt and financialization sufficiently accounted for the histories, legacies and ongoing realities of empire, colonialism and global racial ordering? What is being missed when these themes are marginalized? What accounts for this marginalization? What can be gained when they come into focus? And how might prioritizing them open not only different scholarly horizons, but also different interdisciplinary linkages and pathways towards policy, practice and action?

While scholars in the humanities have grappled with the long intertwined histories of slavery, empire and finance (Baucom 2005), social scientific engagements with finance have largely neglected questions of race and empire in their analyses of contemporary financial arrangements (Bourne et al. 2018). The vitality of the overlapping fields known as cultural economy, critical finance studies and the social studies of finance means that “the practices and processes of financial markets are now subjected to scrutiny from the disciplines of social anthropology, science studies, arts and humanities, and cultural geography amongst others” (Bennett, McFall and Pryke 2008, p. 3). Indeed, as the editors of one recent collection put it, “finance should be studied by all the social sciences” (Chambost, Lenglet & Tadjeddine 2018a, 2018b). And yet the “absence of studies on the roles of race and ethnicity in financial cultures” appears just as profound and surprising now as it was a decade ago, not least because “two major economic phenomena, colonialism and underdevelopment, are intimately connected with race and ethnic relations” (Sioh 2010, p. 118; see Appel 2018).

Responding to this charge, economic historians, economic geographers, and political economists might well point towards a well-established literature on the role of the City of London as the world’s great middleman, facilitating imperial expansion and leaving as its post-imperial legacy the network of offshore jurisdictions increasingly termed ‘Britain’s Second Empire’ (Cain & Hopkins 2016; Haberly & Wojcik 2015; Palan 2015). But our aim is not merely to deploy empire, race or colonialism as a means of explaining away finance as ‘socially constructed’. After all, is there not a risk that refracting analyses through time-lagged representations of colonial repression takes us further away from understanding the relationship between race, empire and finance in the present (O’Riley 2007)?

As such, we seek submissions that build on existing work in cultural economy by placing the “nature, character and operation” of finance’s relationship with race, empire and colonialism into question (cf. Bennett et al. 2008, p. 1). Such work has already begun to emerge outside the cultural economy/finance studies space, among historians concerned with the way that enduring legal concepts and insurance “techniques” were developed and adapted in the context of debates around the humanity of slaves trafficked across the Atlantic (Kish and Leroy 2015; Rupprecht 2016).

By inviting submissions that take an explicit concern with the entanglements of race, empire, colonialism and finance we acknowledge a debt to, and seek to go beyond, existing cultural studies work that have sought to “read the subprime crisis through a dual lens of race and empire” (Chakravartty and da Silva 2012, p. 364). Understanding the imbrication of race, racism and economy requires attention to diverse, situated processes of racialization - whether understood in terms of an “unfolding story of historical capitalism” or a “civilizational encounter between the West and the Rest” - as much as it does a careful anatomizing of financial arrangements (Virdee 2019, p. 22; Bhattacharyya 2018; Tilley and Shilliam 2017).

Equally, we encourage contributions from authors who leave behind the conventional geographies of finance studies. With few exceptions (e.g. Çalişkan 2010; Maurer 2013; Rudnyckyj 2019), work in cultural economy and the social studies of finance has tended to concern itself with the City of London, London’s Mayfair district, Chicago, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Zurich, or emerging global financial centres in China and the Gulf. (See variously Beunza and Stark 2008; Castelle et al. 2016; Clark and Monk 2010; Hardie and MacKenzie 2007; Lai 2012; Leins 2018; Miyzaki 2013; Ortiz 2014; Pardo-Guerra 2011; Zaloom 2006). Taking a lead from recent work that has examined the relationship between Wall Street and the Caribbean (Hudson 2017), we encourage submissions that trace outwards from global financial centres to reveal the imperial ambition and racist discourses which enabled such centres to experiment, ‘innovate’, and expand. Equally, we are interested in counter-histories that tell the stories of other relations of financing, speculation and economic integration beyond the centre-periphery narrative.

Just as we seek to destabilize the conventional geographical preoccupations of finance studies, we also invite submissions that explore the nature, character and operation of finance in the context of shifting North-South relations, changing geographies of development, and new forms of imperialism and ‘sub-imperialism’ (Bond 2016). The emergence of ‘BRICS’ and the remaking of the former ‘Third World’ or ‘Global South’ as a set of ‘frontier’ and ‘emerging’ markets conjures a set of indices, metrics and speculative imaginaries that rest upon the erasure of faded anti-colonial projects, whilst also posing a challenge to certainties about the ‘West’ (Bourne 2015; Gilbert 2019; Kaur 2018; Tilley 2018). As much as past colonial encounters leave traces in contemporary financial organization, emergent financial certainties feed back into desires and strategies that re-shape the contemporary post-colony.

Finally, we seek contributions that examine the haunting of economic tools and methodologies by imperial ambition and colonial anxieties. If Keynesian economics was both informed by and tested through violent colonial encounters (Biltoft 2018; Goswami 2018; Patnaik 2017), how should this be accounted for in analyses of economic measurement (Mitchell 2010) and central banking (Holmes 2009) which make their entry into economic processes via Keynes and his concepts?

Towards these ends, we invite abstracts for academic articles directed towards themes that include but are not limited to:

● The ‘haunting’ of contemporary financial orders and practices by colonial legacies;

● Colonial genealogies of contemporary finance and their significance;

● The relationship between historical colonialism and contemporary forms of colonialism (‘data’ colonialism, ‘green’ colonialism);

● Methodological tensions or convergence between de/postcolonial studies & cultural economies/social studies of finance;

● Intersections of gender, race/racialization, sexuality and contemporary forms of exclusion and exploitation with orders of debt, credit, extraction and neo-colonialism;

● Visions of the decolonization of the economy and the social relations in which it is embedded, including questions of reparations, repatriation of lands and artefacts and radical movements for collective liberation.


Appel, H. (2018) Race makes markets: subcontracting in the transnational oil industry. SSRC Race & Capitalism Series

Baucom, I. (2005) Specters of the Atlantic: Finance capital, slavery, and the philosophy of history. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Bennett, T., McFall, L. and Pryke, M. (2008) Culture/Economy/Social. Journal of Cultural Economy 1 (1): 1-7.

Beunza, D. and Stark, D. (2008) Tools of the trade: the socio-technology of arbitrage in a Wall Street trading room. In T. Pinch and R. Swedberg (eds.) Living in a material world: economic sociology meets science and technology studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 253-290.

Bhattacharyya, G. (2018) Rethinking racial capitalism: questions of reproduction and survival. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Biltoft, C. (2018) On a certain blindness in economic theory: Keynes’s giraffes and the ordinary textuality of economic ideas. In R. Fredona and S Reinert (eds.) New Perspectives on the History of Political Economy. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Bond, P. (2016) BRICS banking and the debate over sub-Imperialism. Third World Quarterly 37 (4): 611-629.

Bourne, C. (2015) Thought leadership as a trust strategy in global markets: Goldman Sachs’ promotion of the ‘BRICS’ in the marketplace of ideas. Journal of Public relations Research 27 (4): 322-336.

Bourne, C., Gilbert, P., Haiven, M. and Montgomerie, J. (2018) colonial debts, imperial insolvencies, extractive nostalgias. Discover Society 60

Cain, P.J. & Hopkins, A. (2016) British Imperialism: 1688-2015. London: Routledge.

Castelle, M., Millo, Y., Beunza, D. and Lubin, D, (2016) Where do electronic markets come from? Regulation and the transformation of financial exchanges. Economy and Society 45 (3): 266-200.

Çalişkan, Koray. 2010. Market Threads: How Cotton Farmers and Traders Create a Global Commodity. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Chakravartty, P. and Ferreira da Silva, D. (2012) Special Issue: Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime. American Quarterly 64 (3)

Chambost, M., Lenglet, M. and Tadjeddine, Y. (2018a) The making of finance: perspectives from the social sciences. London: Routledge.

Chambost, M., Lenglet, M. and Tadjeddine, Y. (2018b) Mobilising the social sciences to rethink finance. The Conversation

Clark, G. and Monk, A. (2010) Symposium: sovereign fund capitalism. Environment and Planning A 42: 2271-2291.

Gilbert, P. (2019) Bangladesh as the ‘next frontier’? Positioning the nation in a global financial hierarchy. Public Anthropologist 1 (1): 62-80.

Goswami, M. (2018) Crisis economics: Keynes and the end of empire. Constellations 25 (1): 18-34.

Haberly, D. & Wojcik, D. (2015) Regional blocks and imperial legacies: mapping the global offshore FDI network. Economic Geography 91 (3): 251-280.

Hardie, I. and MacKenzie, D. 2007. Assembling an economic actor: the agencement of a hedge fund. The Sociological Review 55 (1): 57–80.

Holmes, D. (2009) Economy of Words. Cultural Anthropology 24 (3): 381-419

Hudson, P. (2017) Bankers and Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean. Chicago: Chicago UP.

Kaur, R. (2018) World as Commodity: Or, how the “Third World” became an “Emerging Market”. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 38 (2): 377-395.

Kish, Z. and Leroy, J. (2015) Bonded life: Technologies of racial finance from slave insurance to philanthrocapital. Cultural Studies 29 (5-6): 630-651.

Lai, K. (2012) Differentiated markets: Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong in China’s financial centre network. Urban Studies 49 (6): 1275-1296.

Leins, S. (2018) Stories of capitalism: inside the role of financial analysts. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Maurer, B. (2013) Jurisdiction in dialect: sovereignty games in the British Virgin Islands. In R Adler-Nissen and U Pram Gad (eds.) European Integration and Postcolonial Sovereignty Games: The EU Overseas Countries and Territories. London: Routledge, pp 130-144.

Mitchell, T. (2011) Carbon democracy: political power in the age of oil. London: Verso.

Miyazaki, H. (2013) Arbitraging in Japan: Dreams of capitalism at the end of finance. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

O’Riley, M. (2007) Postcolonial haunting: anxiety, affect and the situated encounter. Postcolonial Text 3 (4): 1-15.

Ortiz, H. (2014) The limits of financial imagination: free investors, efficient markets, and crisis. American Anthropologist 116 (1): 38-50.

Palan, R. (2015) The second British Empire: the British Empire and the re-emergence of global finance. In S. Halperin (ed.) Legacies of Empire: Imperial Roots of the Contemporary Global Order, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 46-68.

Pardo-Guerra, Juan Pablo. 2011. The automated house: the digitalization of the London Stock Exchange, 1995-1990. In B Batiz-Lazo, J. Carles Maixe-Altes and P. Thomes (eds.) Technological Innovation in Retail Finance: International Historical Perspectives. London: Routledge, pp. 197-220.

Patnaik, U. (2017) Mr Keynes and the forgotten holocaust in Bengal, 1943-44: Or, the macroeconomics of extreme demand compression. Studies in People’s History 4 (2): 197-210

Preda, Alexandru. 2012. The social closure of the stock exchange. In G. Poitras (ed.) Handbook of Research on Stock Market Globalization. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 149-162.

Rudnyckyj, D. (2019) Beyond debt: Islamic experiments in global finance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rupprecht, A. (2016) ‘Inherent Vice’: Marine insurance, slave ship rebellion and the law. Race & Class 57 (3): 31-44.

Sioh, M. (2010). Pricing race, circulating anxieties, and the fate of Malaya’s currency reserves at Independence. Cultural Critique 65: 115-139.

Tilley, L. and Shilliam, R. (2017) Raced markets: an introduction. New Political Economy 23 (5): 534-543.

Tilley, L. (2018) Recasting and re-racialising the “Third World” in “Emerging Market” terms: understanding market emergence in historical colonial perspective. Discovery Society 60

Virdee, S. (2019) Racialized capitalism: an account of its contested origins and consolidation. The Sociological Review 67 (1): 3-27.

Dr Paul Robert Gilbert
Lecturer in International Development
Convenor, PhD International Development
Convenor, MA Environment, Development & Policy

Arts C 205 | School of Global Studies | University of Sussex | BN1 9SJ | United Kingdom | +44(0)1273 877095 |

Recent publications appear in Public Anthropologist, London Review of International Law, Focaal & Discover Society
Current projects include ‘Sustainable Development’ & Atmospheres of Violence: Experiences of Environmental Defenders
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