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13th Annual Wheelwright Lecture: Susan Ferguson, Jayati Ghosh and Adam Tooze

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 2:42pm in


Blog, Events

13th Annual E.L. ‘Ted’ Wheelwright Memorial Lecture

Hosted by the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, together with the Journal of Australian Political Economy (JAPE) and the Political Economy Student Society (ECOPSoc)

This Global Crisis: Capitalism In And Beyond The Pandemic

Speakers: Susan Ferguson, Jayati Ghosh and Adam Tooze

When: 9 November 2020, 12.30-2pm (Sydney time/AEDT)

Where: Online via Zoom. Link will be sent prior to the event to registered attendees. All welcome. Register here.


2020 has revealed the deep connections between our intersecting crises of economy, health, care, gender, race and climate. The course of the pandemic has been shaped by long-standing inequalities in our households, communities, workplaces and financial systems. Governments have responded with experimental fiscal and monetary policies that at least temporarily bypass the usual constraints while at the same time implementing new forms of repression at borders, elections and protests around the world. The Covid-19 crisis will drive political economic transformations that will reverberate around a world in which environmental risks are set to multiply.

As the battle of ideas and blueprints for the post-pandemic world intensify, the Department of Political Economy’s 13th annual Wheelwright lecture will be delivered by a panel of three global experts who will discuss the lessons of 2020 and what might come next. Associate Professor Susan Ferguson (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Professor Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) and Professor Adam Tooze (Columbia University, USA) will provide sharp analysis of the dynamics of the crisis in social reproduction, the crisis in the global south and global macro-economic crisis.

Panel Bios

Susan Ferguson is Associate Professor Emerita at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada and Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US. She has been a longtime activist in socialist and social justice groups and has written extensively on Marxist Feminism and Social Reproduction. She co-edits the Pluto book series Mapping Social Reproduction and her book, Women and Work: Feminism, Labour and Social Reproduction was published in 2020 by Pluto Press. Susan now lives in Houston, Texas.

Jayati Ghosh is a distinguished economist and was professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University until September 2020. She will be joining the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA in January 2021. Her research interests include globalisation, international finance, employment patterns in developing countries, macroeconomic policy and issues related to gender and development. Jayati has held positions at Tufts University and Cambridge and lectured at academic institutions across India. She is one of the founders of the Economic Research Foundation in New Delhi, a non-profit trust devoted to progressive economic research. She is also Executive Secretary of the International Development Economics Associates, a network of economists critical of the mainstream economic paradigm of neo-liberalism. Jayati has been a consultant and researcher for government and non-government organizations, internationally. She is widely published, with 18 books (most recently Demonetisation Decoded wth CP Chandrasekhar and Prabhat Patnaik, and the Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development co-edited with Erik Reinert and Rainer Kattel) and nearly 200 scholarly articles. She writes regular columns on economics and current affairs for various national and international publications.

Adam Tooze holds the Shelby Cullom Davis chair of History at Columbia University and serves as Director of the European Institute. In 2019, Foreign Policy Magazine named him one of the top Global Thinkers of the decade. Adam received his BA in Economics from King’s College Cambridge and PhD from the London School of Economics. From 1996 to 2009 Adam taught at the University of Cambridge, where he was Reader in Modern History and Gurnee Hart fellow in History at Jesus College. After Cambridge, Adam was appointed to the Barton M. Biggs Professorship at Yale University before joining Columbia’s history department in the summer of 2015. Adam is a regular commentator and has appeared on PBS Television, BBC Radio, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, the History Channel, Swiss and French television. He is the author of a number of award-winning books, including Statistics and the German State: the Making of Modern Economic Knowledge (2001), Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (2006), Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order 1916-1931 (2014), and, most recently, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018).

Previous speakers

Previous distinguished lecturers include Susanne Soederberg (2019), Alfredo Saad-Filho (2018), Katherine Gibson (2017), David Ruccio (2016), Erik Olin Wright (2015), Leo Panitch (2014), Susan George (2013), Diane Elson (2012), Sheila Dow (2011), Fred Block (2010), Jim Stanford (2009) and Walden Bello (2008).

Image: Marcel Crozet / ILO

The post 13th Annual Wheelwright Lecture: Susan Ferguson, Jayati Ghosh and Adam Tooze appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

CfP Ships in the proletarian night: contemporary Marxist thought in France and Britain

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/09/2020 - 8:25am in


Events, Marxism

Call for Papers Ships in the proletarian night: contemporary Marxist thought in France and Britain

25th – 27th March 2021

Alison Richards Building, Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Razmig Keucheyan (University of Bordeaux), Stathis Kouvelakis, Julia Nicholls (King’s College London), Kristin Ross (New York University)

In the 1840s, Marx moved west: exiled from Germany, forced into France, joining Engels in Britain. Each step was pivotal to the constitution of what we now know as Marxism, as German philosophy, French socialism and British economics came together in a powerful and enduring synthesis. An exchange between France and Britain thus stands at the beginning of the Marxist tradition of thought. Marx’s leap across the English Channel is not the only moment when a creative encounter between radical thought in Britain and France has occurred. One thinks, for instance, of the fertile moment of the 1870s and 1880s, when the event of the Paris Commune helped to spark a revival of British socialism; its significance captured by William Morris, the poet of Marxism, in his claim that the Commune laid ‘the foundation-stone of the new world that is to be’. We can also think here about the decade that followed the May 1968 events in Paris. The political eruption in France, and with it the revival of radical thinking, inaugurated a new moment of exchange. In particular, the Marxism of Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey and Nicos Poulantzas piqued critical, indeed at times caustic, interventions from Stuart Hall, Terry Eagleton and E. P. Thompson, as well as playing a crucial role in retooling the British tradition of Cultural Studies.

These three moments of encounter provoke a query: What is the significance of the Anglo-French connection for contemporary Marxism? There are clearly viable currents of Marxist thought in both countries. The student-led “lectures de Marx” seminar at the École Normale Supérieure, founded in 2009, is one sign of the continuing critical engagement with Marxism by a current generation of students. In Britain, there are similar tentative signs of a revival in Marxism, with forums such as the World Transformed festival and Salvage magazine, as well as the continuing strength of publishers such as Verso and Pluto, offering a stage for the rejuvenation of socialist thinking. Yet, these two tendencies seem strangely disconnected; like two ships in the night, the exchanges between French and British Marxism are fleeting, lacking the dynamism and drive of the post-Commune and post-1968 moments. Where are the reciprocal exchanges between the two traditions today? How can the productive polemics of the past be replicated in the contemporary moment?

The concern here is not purely abstract; there are concrete reasons why a new encounter between French and British Marxism is of particular importance today. To borrow an Althusserian term, which was popularised by Stuart Hall, both countries face a conjuncture that shares certain key similarities. To take some obvious examples: the attempt to revive socialism through a left populist strategy, represented by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise; the increased potency of contentious street and protest actions, whether in the form of national strikes against Macron’s pension reforms or Extinction Rebellion’s attempts to bring London to a standstill; an austerity politics, undergirded by forty years of neoliberalism, that takes aim at the last vestiges of the welfare state; and, finally, the legacies of colonialism, with postcolonial questions of nation, race and identity inflecting both the two polities.

Ships in the Proletarian Night, then, has three aims. First, to explore the history of Anglo-French Marxist encounters, enriching our understanding of the history of exchanges between the two traditions. Second, to consider the contemporary state of Marxist thought in France and Britain, dwelling on the recent revivals of socialist thinking and action in each context. Third, to explore the latent possibilities for new encounters in the future, considering how each tradition might enrich the other, casting new light on the pressing questions of the contemporary conjuncture.

Possible topics might include:

  • Historical exchanges between the Marxist traditions in Britain and France
  • The Paris Commune and its legacy, of which it will be the 150th anniversary in March
  • Contemporary Marxist thinkers and projects
  • Questions of translation, circulation and reception
  • The rise (and possible fall) of left populism
  • Resistance movements, such as Extinction Rebellion, the gilets jaunes, and industrial action
  • Radical rightism: its causes and consequences
  • New theoretical approaches
  • Marxist takes on financialisation
  • Empire, Anticolonialism and Marxism: With and Beyond C.L.R. James and Aimé Césaire

Please send an abstract (max. 250 words) to before November 9th, 2020. Papers should be no longer than 20 minutes. We accept papers in both French and English. For non-French speakers, papers will be translated and circulated in the room. All information will also be made available on CRASSH’s website.

Organisers : Sakshi Aravind, (Cambridge) Joe Davidson, (Cambridge) Louis Klee, (Cambridge) Marion Leclair, (Université d’Artois) Solange Manche, (Cambridge)

About the Cambridge Reading Marx Seminar

Founded by Solange Manche, Louis Klee, and Joe Davidson in July 2019, the Cambridge Reading Marx Seminar is a multidisciplinary research forum based in King’s College and cooperates with the “lectures de Marx” seminar at the École Normale Supérieure (Ulm) in Paris. We run a reading group style discussion circle and host invited speakers, creating a space for discussion of Marx’s work.


La pensée marxiste contemporaine en France et en Grande-Bretagne : une rencontre manquée ?

Du 25 au 27 mars 2021,

Alison Richards Building,

Sidgwick Site,

The University of Cambridge

Conférences plénières confirmées :

Razmig Keucheyan (Université de Bordeaux), Stathis Kouvélakis, Julia Nicholls (King’s College Londres), Kristin Ross (New York University),

Dans les années 1840, Marx part pour l’Ouest : exilé et contraint d’aller à Paris, il rejoint Engels au Royaume-Uni. Chaque étape fut fondamentale dans la constitution de ce que nous appelons aujourd’hui le marxisme, donnant naissance à une puissante et durable synthèse entre la philosophie allemande, le socialisme français et l’économie politique britannique. Les échanges entre la France et le Royaume-Uni inaugurent donc le début de la tradition intellectuelle marxiste. Bien après la traversée de la Manche par Engels puis Marx, la rencontre du marxisme, de la pensée radicale britannique et de du socialisme français donne encore lieu à des élaborations fécondes. On peut par exemple mentionner le moment très fertile des années 1870s et 1880, quand la Commune déclenche une renaissance du socialisme britannique, incarnée dans la poésie de William Morris, pour qui la Commune « posa la première pierre du nouveau monde à venir ». On peut également mentionner la décennie qui procède les évènements de mai-juin 68. L’éruption politique en France et le retour de la théorie radicale initièrent un nouveau moment d’échanges – parfois acides :  le marxisme critique de Louis Althusser, de Pierre Macherey et de Nicos Poulantzas, s’il déclenche parfois les foudres polémiques de Stuart Hall, de Terry Eagleton et de E. P. Thompson, n’en joue pas moins un rôle décisif dans le renouvellement de la tradition britannique des Cultural Studies.

Ces trois moments de rencontre suscitent l’interrogation : quel est le legs de ces liens franco-britanniques au marxisme contemporain ? Il y a clairement des courants de pensée marxiste établis dans les deux pays. Le séminaire d’élèves « Lectures de Marx à l’ENS Ulm, né en 2009, est bien le signe d’un retour de l’engagement critique avec la pensée marxiste dans la présente génération d’étudiant.e.s. En Grande-Bretagne, il y a des initiatives similaires, quoi que moins développées, comme le festival « The World Transformed » et la revue Salvage, ainsi que des maisons d’édition comme Verso et Pluto, qui offrent une plateforme à la régénération de la pensée socialiste. Pourtant, ces deux tendances semblent étrangement déconnectées l’une de l’autre ; comme deux navires dans la nuit, les échanges entre marxisme français et marxisme britannique sont passagers, dépourvus du dynamisme du moment post-communard et post-68. Où en sont les échanges entre les deux traditions aujourd’hui ? Comment est-ce que ces polémiques productives du passé peuvent être reproduites dans le moment présent ?

La question ici n’est pas entièrement abstraite ; il y a des raisons concrètes à l’importance d’une rencontre entre marxisme français et britannique aujourd’hui. Pour emprunter un terme d’Althusser, popularisé par Stuart Hall, les deux pays font face à une conjoncture qui partage de nombreuses similarités. Il y a l’effort de faire revivre le socialisme à travers une stratégie populiste, représentée par le Labour de Jeremy Corbyn et par la France Insoumise de Jean-Luc Mélenchon ; le retour en force des contestations populaires, sous la forme d’appels à la grève générale contre les réformes du gouvernement Macron (gilets jaunes) ou des efforts d’Extinction Rebellion pour bloquer la ville de Londres ; les politiques d’austérité, renforcées par quarante ans de néolibéralisme débridé cherchant à défaire les derniers vestiges de nos acquis sociaux de l’après-guerre—et enfin , l’héritage du colonialisme et les questions de nation, de « race » et d’identité qu’il entraîne.

Ce colloque poursuit donc trois objectifs. Tout d’abord, il veut explorer l’histoire des échanges entre marxisme français et britannique, pour enrichir notre compréhension historique des rencontres entre les deux traditions. Deuxièmement, il se propose d’examiner l’état présent du marxisme en France et en Grande-Bretagne, en prenant appui sur le retour conjoint de la pensée critique et des mouvements sociaux. Troisièmement, il souhaiterait explorer les possibilités latentes de rencontres futures, essayer d’entrevoir comment chaque tradition peut aider à enrichir l’autre en réfléchissant aux questions les plus pressantes de la conjoncture actuelle.

Les propositions pourront aborder les enjeux suivants :

  • Les échanges historiques des traditions marxistes en Grande-Bretagne et en France
  • L’héritage de la Commune de Paris dont on célèbre les 150 ans en mars
  • Les projets intellectuels et militants marxistes contemporains
  • La traduction, la circulation et la réception des textes entre les deux pays
  • L’ascension (et la chute possible) du populisme de gauche
  • Les mouvements d’émancipation et les mouvements sociaux tels qu’extinction rebellion et les gilets jaunes
  • La financiarisation et ses critiques marxistes
  • L’impérialisme et l’anticolonialisme dans la penséee marxiste contemporaine, d’Aimé Césaire à C.L.R James à nos jours

Les propositions (max. 250 mots) sont à envoyer à, le 9 novembre 2020, au plus tard. Les communications ne devront pas dépasser 20 minutes. Nous acceptons des propositions en anglais ou en français. Pour les non-francophones les communications seront traduites et circuleront dans la salle. Toutes les informations seront également disponibles sur le site de CRASSH.

Organisatrices.eurs : Sakshi Aravind, (Cambridge) Joe Davidson, (Cambridge) Louis Klee, (Cambridge) Marion Leclair, (Université d’Artois) Solange Manche (Cambridge)

À propos du séminaire :

Le séminaire Marx à Cambridge est né lors d’une rencontre entre ses membres et ceux du séminaire « Lectures de Marx » à Paris, en juillet 2019. Principalement basé au collège de King’s College, le séminaire combine atelier de lecture et interventions de chercheurs spécialistes, créant ainsi un espace de discussion autour de l’œuvre de Marx.


Online exhibition at CRASSH for the Ships in the Proletarian Night conference

For our conference, we are equally looking for artists who would like to contribute to an online exhibition that will be hosted on the website of the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH, Cambridge). Given the uncertainty regarding Covid, we decided to host the exhibition fully online and thus welcome submissions that lend itself to this format. We are looking for work that engages with questions of relevance to our conference, such as social and political movements, colonialism, austerity, and economics.

Submissions will be considered together with the general call and are to be sent to before November 9th, 2020. Artworks can still be in the process of completion.

The post CfP Ships in the proletarian night: contemporary Marxist thought in France and Britain appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Workshop for Prospective Philosophy Grad Students from Underrepresented Groups

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 11:37pm in

Cultivating Underrepresented Students in Philosophy (CUSP), is an initiative of the Department of Philosophy at Penn State. It provides programs for “prospective graduate students in philosophy from traditionally underrepresented groups (including African Americans, Chicano/as and Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asian Americans)”.

[Lillian Blades, “Abundanscape”]

One of CUSP’s programs is their Fall Workshop. It’s aimed at “college seniors, recent graduates, and working professionals who want to continue their graduate education in philosophy and are currently working on their graduate applications for the following Fall term.” It includes seminars regarding the graduate application process and materials (writing sample revisions, statement of purpose preparation, program selection, etc.) as well as discussions with philosophy faculty and graduate students. Funding for the workshop comes from a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Fall Workshop will take place online this year from October 18th-21st. The application deadline is September 25th. Please share this with your students and others you think might be interested.

(via Dwight K. Lewis)

The post Workshop for Prospective Philosophy Grad Students from Underrepresented Groups appeared first on Daily Nous.

2021 Eastern and Central APA Meetings Moved Online

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 2:40pm in


Events, Online

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has announced that its 2021 Eastern Division Meeting, scheduled for New York City from January 4th to 7th, and its 2021 Central Division Meeting, scheduled for New Orleans from February 24th to 27th, will instead both be taking place online.

The announcement reads, in part:

Over the past several months, the APA leadership, including the board of officers and the executive committees of all three divisions, have been closely monitoring developments related to the coronavirus pandemic and its potential impact on divisional meetings planned for 2021.

Regrettably, it has now become clear that the pandemic’s effects will not have sufficiently abated for us to hold in-person meetings early in 2021…

We expect that the virtual meetings will be held on approximately the same dates scheduled for the in-person meetings, and all or nearly all the sessions planned for the in-person meetings will go forward in virtual format. Program participants for each of these meetings will soon receive additional information related to scheduling and planning their sessions for the new virtual format. We will announce further details about the virtual meetings as they become available, both by email and on the meeting pages on the APA website.

No decision has yet been made regarding the 2021 Pacific Division Meeting of the APA, currently planned for March 31st through April 3 in Portland, Oregon.


The post 2021 Eastern and Central APA Meetings Moved Online appeared first on Daily Nous.

The Pandemic’s Largest Online Philosophy Conference to Date?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/08/2020 - 2:50pm in

What may be the largest philosophy conference to have switched to an online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting today.

The conference is the 10th European Congress of Analytic Philosophy (ECAP). ECAP is organized by the European Society for Analytic Philosophy and is held once every three years. This year’s conference was originally scheduled to take place at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. Instead, it will be held online.

The conference includes around 250 contributed papers, keynotes, and invited talks, and so far, around 350 philosophers have registered to participate, according to Daniel Cohnitz, professor of philosophy at Utrecht and president of the conference’s steering committee.

The conference size and format is a bit of an experiment, and it will be interesting to hear from participants about how it goes.

Most of the talks will take place in dedicated Microsoft Teams channels. The talks themselves are prerecorded and made available to audiences in advance to watch at their convenience. As for the discussions of the papers, speakers chose either a live question and answer period in a dedicated time-slot or an asynchronous, chat based Q&A. The keynote lectures will be streamed live on YouTube. You can read more about the format here.

The program is online here. Access to the papers (and participation in the discussions) is limited to those who’ve registered for the conference, but registration is still open. Professor Cohnitz writes that participants from outside Europe are welcome.


The post The Pandemic’s Largest Online Philosophy Conference to Date? appeared first on Daily Nous.

EFA Talks with Stilgherrian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/08/2020 - 2:14pm in


Events, General

Electronic Frontiers Australia welcomes Stilgherrian as guest speaker to EFA Talks… an online lecture series—hosted by Angus Murray, chair of EFA’s policy committee. Stil and Angus will discuss the recently released Australia's Cyber Security Strategy 2020.

Stilgherrian an Australian journalist who's been covering 
internet policy for more than a decade, and has been closely following 
Australia's cybersecurity and digital surveillance laws, primarily for 
global tech site ZDNet. He's a frequent commentator on these issues on 
radio and TV

Register now for tickets to this Zoom Chat to be held on Wednesday, 19 August 2020 from 13.30-2.00pm AEST. 

Zoom information:
Password: 995898

EFA Talks are free with a suggested donation of $10 to support the work that EFA does as a volunteer organisation protecting and promoting digital rights in Australia for over 25 years and will continue to do so in this time of crisis. 

 EFA Talks session are scheduled to occur fortnightly to discuss digital rights issues with digital, health and legal experts.

Powered by ThoughtWorks.

Join us.

Related Items:

What makes a market? Understanding the social connections that underpin markets

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 2:27am in

I was recently invited to participate in a virtual seminar, ‘Building a market for exchange traded derivatives for recyclables’ (29 July 2020). That’s a fine idea, a financial market inspired solution to many practical problems facing global recycling. The recycling market is dogged by informational problems, with oversupply in some areas and undersupply in the areas where there is meaningful demand. It is dysfunctional, in the words of Rowan University’s Professor Jordan Howell, who organised the seminar. Finance theory tells us that a derivative market might be the answer, offering producers and buyers the possibility to gain some surety as to future prices and plan accordingly. Howell’s colleagues Professors Jordan Moore and Daniel Folkinshteyn shared research showing that derivatives markets tend to improve trading conditions in the underlying commodity market as well. Industry experts shared their stories about starting financial markets and managing risk through derivatives while the audience comprised industry representatives, regulators, and academics from across the United States. I was honoured to speak alongside Commissioner Rostin Behnam of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who set a regulatory vision of innovative markets serving the economy through a robust and fair process of price discovery.

The event was organized by Professor Howell and his colleagues, academics from the Rowan University School of Business in New Jersey, and sponsored by the New Jersey Recycling Enhancement Act Grant Program and the Rowan Centre for Responsible Leadership. Despite the usual technological gremlins, it was a fascinating session.

My talk was titled ‘What makes a market? Understanding the social connections that underpin markets’. I was delighted to be able to say that that many of the findings of my research had already been echoed by earlier speakers, especially Stein Ole Larsen, a Norwegian entrepreneur who has founded NOREXECO, an exchange for pulp and paper.

I began by remarking that we had already witnessed two distinct strands of thinking in the seminar. On the one hand, an economic account of the purpose and function of derivatives, shorn of any kind of social relationship. On the other, an account of the struggles of making such a thing happen in practice, dependent upon the complex understandings of practitioners, with vested interests, institutional constraints and ingrained habits. This reflects in many ways a broader pattern where the social drops in and out of market thinking. We have, in 18th-century notions about markets Adam Smith’s understanding of mutually beneficial competition between the butcher, brewer and baker. But by the twentieth century we see the social slipping away in economic thinking. There’s Frederick Hayek’s idea of the market as a great computer at the centre of self organising economic processes. From Hayek’s metaphors I think of some kind of steam punk machine, with entrepreneurs grappling to change the dials of this great engine of price discovery. By the time of the efficient market hypothesis the social has vanished entirely, replaced by a market full of individual atomised practitioners. But we know that markets have places and relationships: we know this intuitively from our own experiences in the yard sale or the supermarket.

Sociology, on the other hand, sees markets as made up of social interactions and held together by social connections, embedded in the social to use Mark Granovetter’s well-worn term. A couple of classic studies will illustrate this point and we can see them in these pictures of the New York garment district and the trading pits of Chicago. There’s Brian Uzzi’s study of New York fashion manufacturers in the eighties, extending credit and support, helping competitors through difficult times; and Wayne Baker’s study of the trading pits as policed by social norms. The fundamental insight is that markets cannot function without trust between participants and market actors will tolerate less competitive prices in return for the security that comes from interpersonal relationships. In other words, market participants don’t necessarily act as economic theory suggests.

But these are old photographs. That kind of trading doesn’t exist any more. Contemporary markets are made of wires, screens, data flows algorithms, telephones (perhaps), intercoms; trading rooms and traders; traders plugged into spreadsheets and computer terminals, all supported by vast backrooms of settlement and surveillance. In fact, there often aren’t humans at all: 90 % of equities trading globally is now conducted algorithmically.

Well, research suggests that bodies still matter. The traders studies by Knorr Cetina and Bruegger strap themselves into their chair, figuratively speaking, and are immersed into the market as it through the screens. The market rolls out like a tapestry of information, circling the world with the sun. As technological advances have reshaped markets, so social connections have been worked into the technology. Knorr Cetina calls these global microstructures: tight communities dispersed globally and held together by technology, numbers on the screen, voices on an intercom. My own work has shown how the norms of trading are worked into the material devices of trade, reproducing social mores. One might even argue that algorithms capture something of their makers, although here I am at the limit of my expertise. There is even evidence to show that, in the absence of bodies, traders bind numbers back into stories and commentaries about people; I’ve watched traders at work offering a dense narrative of who is doing what is behind the stream of supposedly anonymous numbers.

But I wanted to stress that there is more to markets than trading. Markets can be understood as fundamentally social projects: they have histories, they have path dependencies, they are embedded in particular spaces and social communities; they have political entanglements from the outset. It’s easiest to show this with examples.

The picture at the left of the slide shows a crowd of stockjobbers gathering at Jonathan’s coffee house in Exchange Alley. What did they trade? The stock in the new joint-stock corporations, such as the Bank of England, all the infamous South sea company, the East India company and even the Royal Africa company. These corporations were engines of colonial exploitation but they also provided a link between the fat pockets of the merchants and the needy coffers of the nation: they lent vast sums to the government which were pushed through their balance sheets and parcelled out as tradable stock. Eventually the richer brokers bought a building on Threadneedle Street and began to charge rent. Here we have demonstration of classic social theory, which shows that market participants exploit status relationships in markets to maintain their position. Until 1986 this pattern of trading persisted, with jobbers trading face-to-face on the floor of the exchange.

Then we see a picture of the nineteenth century building of the Chicago Board of trade. I talked about the evolution of Chicago’s Board of Trade as an association of politicians and businessmen to help the city as well as build a market and a series of buildings that grew to house evolving trading practices. Professor Moore had previously given us a financial perspective on derivatives, alienated from their place in history. The Chicago story gives them a history and social context, first of all with the development of ‘to arrive’ contracts, the beauty of which was that they never had to arrive, and then crowned by the legalisation of derivative trading in the United States. This came out of a legal battle between bucket shop magnate CC Christie and the Board of Trade, and ended with Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court ruling that speculation ‘by competent men is the self-adjustment of society to the probable’. Speculation, as colleagues had made clear earlier in the session is not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s important to add that social connections can cause problems too. Here’s a few examples to make that point. Innovation coupled with social prestige not always a good thing…Think of the project to legalise mortgage bonds under Louis Ranieri at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s, which contributed to the boom and bust of that decade, or the JPMorgan diaspora around collateralised debt obligations in the late nineties. Put the two together and you end up with a calamity on the scale of the 2008 credit crisis.

At the other end of the scale, my own work has shown how Taiwanese retail investors take up the occupation as a means of entry to status groups. So social networks can be cliques, and worse. Donald MacKenzie suggests that dense social networks among hedge fund managers in the late 1990s led to the bust following the collapse of Long Term Capital Management. The hedge fund managers, members of a geographically and socially close community, knew where the smart money was and followed it. The result was a super portfolio that greatly amplified the consequences of Russia’s default on the ruble in 1998. In contemporary times, Karen Ho’s superb ethnography of Wall Street recruitment among elite shows how social connections reproduce particular kinds of gender, race, and class differences.

For this reason, regulation seeks to drive the social out of markets. We are all familiar with the dominant conception of efficient markets, associated with Eugene Fama. Here informational efficiency equals allocative efficiency (under Walrasian assumptions, to be technical). What is needed is a crowd of anonymous buyers meeting a crowd of anonymous sellers, all transactions listed in the broad daylight of the exchange’s order book, and these arrangements are built into the architecture of mainboard equity markets worldwide.

But there’s plenty of evidence that social connections are vital for market operation. There are organisational reasons such as training the next generation of market practitioners and maintaining appropriate cultures. Scholars have shown that social interactions are a major source of innovation and profitable trading strategies – though the credit crisis reminds us that innovation is not in and of itself a good thing.

More important is the relationship between social connections and resilience. March 2020 saw the third major crash since the digitization of markets in the 1980s. Such was the severity of the collapse that  automated fail-safe devices struggled to keep up with the speed of market falls. This kind of collapse is the result of the removal of the social. Even in benign times, HFT remains notoriously unstable and presents new challenges to regulators. The ‘Flash Crash’ of 6 May 2010 remains the paradigmatic instance of algorithmic instability but it is far from the only such event.

Meanwhile studies offer glimpses of resilience based on social connections. Daniel Beunza showed how what he called heterarchical (the opposite of hierarchical) organisation helped trading firm cope in the days following 9/11. Donald MacKenzie records how, in the aftermath of black Monday 1987, the Chicago mercantile exchange “and thus the entire global financial system) was saved from collapse only by personal relationship between the exchange chairman, Leo Melamed, and senior figures in the banking industry. He’s quoted as saying – and this is wonderful – ‘Wilma, you’re not going to let a stinking couple of hundred million dollars cause the Merc [Mercantile Exchange] to go down the tubes, are you?’ We heard a great deal in the seminar about how the clearing system guarantees the resilience of derivative markets; this example shows that the clearing system itself is guaranteed by social connections.  

Finally, my research has shown how it is possible to regulate for social relations rather than against them. I’ve studied the setting up of the London Stock Exchange’s junior market AIM. Rather than imitating the costly and cumbersome in-house regulation of the Official List, the designers of AIM sought to utilise the reputational capital of financiers working around the market. Every company that comes to aim must be supported by a nominated adviser, or Nomad. There are rules about who can be a Nomad, largely dependent on existing experience in the market; everyone therefore knows everyone, and a Nomad who brings substandard offering to market will find themselves unable to conduct future business. Offer prices are worked out by negotiation between institutional investors and Nomads; investors satisfy themselves as to the quality of the advisor as much as they do the investment, and prices reflect the sum of available information. In other words, AIM looks more like one of those producer markets first identified by economic sociology (perhaps even by Adam Smith) where prices and qualities are set by producers who reflexively observe themselves and their competitors. Does it work? Well, aim has grown steadily over two and half decades, and crucially there hasn’t been the expected flow of companies up to the official list – moving from AIM is costly in terms of social capital.  

In conclusion, I summed up the points I wanted to leave with the audience as they sought to set up this new derivatives exchange: markets are deeply embedded in the social and social connections are often viewed as problematic, but need not be so; social connections are a source of trust, of market stability and robustness, of information flow. Finally, I stressed that it is possible to regulate social connections in, not out. In a market so dependent on face-to-face, or at least phone to phone, interpersonal dealing and deeply ingrained habits as the waste and recycling industry, I wonder if this is a viable way forward.

EFA talks with...Vanessa Teague

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 5:39pm in


Events, General

Electronic Frontiers Australia welcomes Vanessa Teague as guest speaker to EFA Talks… an online lecture series—hosted by Angus Murray, chair of EFA’s policy committee. Vanessa and Angus will discuss the prospects and perils of e-voting systems.

Register now for this free event.

Vanessa Teague is the CEO of Thinking Cybersecurity and and A/Prof 
(Adj.) in the Research School of Computer Science at ANU. Her research 
focuses primarily on cryptographic methods for achieving security and 
privacy, particularly for issues of public interest such as election 
integrity and the protection of government data. She was part of the 
team (with Chris Culnane and Ben Rubinstein) who discovered the easy 
re-identification of doctors and patients in the Medicare/PBS open 
dataset released by the Australian Department of Health. She has 
co-designed numerous protocols for improved election integrity in 
e-voting systems, and co-discovered serious weaknesses in the 
cryptography of deployed e-voting systems in NSW, Western Australia and 

Register now for tickets to this Zoom Chat to be held on Wednesday, 29 July 2020 from 13.30-2.00pm AEST. 

Zoom information:
Password: 995898

EFA Talks are free with a suggested donation of $10 to support the work that EFA does as a volunteer organisation protecting and promoting digital rights in Australia for over 25 years and will continue to do so in this time of crisis. 

 EFA Talks session are scheduled to occur fortnightly to discuss digital rights issues with digital, health and legal experts.

Powered by ThoughtWorks.

Join us and register now for this free event.

Related Items:

Open, Live, and Online Philosophy Events Spreadsheet

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 2:25am in

This is a reminder to list events on the Open, Live, and Online Philosophy Events Spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet has not been used much lately, owing, I believe, to a mistake I made with the access settings. But now that’s fixed, and anyone should be able to add events to it. I’ve also added the link to the Daily Nous main menu to make it easier to find.

Please note that the events added to this spreadsheet should meet the following criteria:

  • Open. Accessible to viewers and/or participants without them having to pay fees or join a dues-paying group.
  • Live. Not merely the posting of a previously recorded event.
  • Online. Accessible in some online format (videoconferencing, audiofeeds, blogs).
  • Organized by an academic philosopher or a group that includes academic philosophers.

Thank you.

(When sharing the spreadsheet, please link to the landing page (same link as above), which contains relevant information and instructions.)

The post Open, Live, and Online Philosophy Events Spreadsheet appeared first on Daily Nous.

Webinar recording: Understanding University & College finances

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/07/2020 - 12:59am in



I ran a webinar for UCU on Wednesday 8 July covering some basics on university finances.

It was recorded and can be found here along with the slides I  used. We were originally planning to run training days in April and May, so this 90min presentation with questions is a little quick.

It followed on from a blog I did for UCU on the same topic.