How might archival fragments of an economic anthropologist of post-Ottoman Egypt speak to current debates about finance and financialization? Literature in critical financial studies often reads as if financialization began in 1970 and moves outward from the global North like a mobile frontier remaking the world in its image. But if there is anything like a ‘frontier of finance,' it moved from East to West long before the Industrial Revolution. Through readings of ‘ethnographers of finance’ in archives of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, I disrupt common views of finance as an intrinsic agent of extraction, colonialism, and imperialism to show how finance entails multiple and overlapping processes that make debt valuable. From such a perspective, attention to finance and revaluation in the late Ottoman Empire can invigorate debates about financialization more broadly, including in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis in the United States.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies