So this post is a bit of a fishing expedition — I’m looking to add materials to a course on weird economies. Not “Freakonomics”:http://www.freakonomics.com/thebook.php – style – weird, but late capitalist – style – weird. If you’ve read a particularly compelling ethnographic (or even pop) treatment of black markets, strange markets, marginal and/or avant garde markets, well, do send along the refs!
And if you want to share your thoughts on how the logic of Freakonomics totally makes sense if you’ve drunk the economic man koolaid and totally does not make much sense otherwise — hey, you won’t hear any complaints from me.
The working course description of the course in question is:
“Anthropology of Alternative Economies”: a course considering the theory and ethnography of marginal, secret, and even magical economies in the contemporary world.
While in recent decades we have heard much about the emergence of a “new” global economy, many members of the world population have access to neither this “new” nor to the “old” (wage-labor) economy. Instead, they enter informal, paraformal, and/or illicit economies: providing goods and services outside of (and often in spite of) legitimate frameworks. These workers realize that the economic systems in which they live operate according to strange logics, and they sometimes develop surprising cultural theories to explain them. Such processes are generating exciting new theorization in economics and anthropology. They also present special ethical and methodological challenges to researchers. The course will cover theoretical and empirical readings, from globally diverse contexts and interdisciplinary perspectives, on these multiple sets of issues.