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Recent Talks: Rebecca Empson speaks to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and University of Cambridge on ‘An Economy of Temporary Possession’

By Lauren Bonilla, on 3 July 2015

On the 26th June, 2015, Rebecca Empson was invited to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to give a talk at the ‘Food for Thought’ Series

Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills (Photo by Rebecca Empson, 2015)

Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (Photo by Rebecca Empson, 2015)

Her talk, entitled ‘An Economy of Temporary Possession – is capitalism always about greed?’ explored how capitalism is always a blend of economic systems based on social connections and responsibility, as well as wealth accumulation. Based on many years of fieldwork in Mongolia, she showed how local forms of ownership came to disrupt the performative potential of economic models with different visions of the future, where debt is not always something negative.

This kind of analysis allows us to call into question assumptions that drive forms of economic development, illuminating how policies are practiced and experienced locally. It may also be taken as a broader critique of the idea of the ‘performativity of economics’ and help us to understand the complex motivations that drive people toward different kinds of economic activity, including feelings of trust, secrecy and uncertainty.

Earlier, on the 15th May, 2015 Rebecca gave the senior seminar at the Department of Social Anthropology,  Cambridge University.  She presented her now revised and developed Malinowski lecture, An Economy of Temporary Possession, which is to be to be published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Image of case at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Cambridge University (Photo by Rebecca Empson, 2015)

Image of case at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Cambridge University (Photo by Rebecca Empson, 2015)

 

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