Essays in Ethnographic Theory
This collection highlights a key metaphor in contemporary discourse about economy and society. The contributors explore how references to reality and the real economy are linked both to the utopias of collective well-being, supported by real monies and good economies, and the dystopias of financial bubbles and busts, in which people’s own lives “crash” along with the reality of their economies.
The Real Economy is a milestone collection in economic anthropology that crosses disciplinary boundaries and adds new life to social studies of the economy.
“At a time of bewildering economic transformations, what a gift it is to read The Real Economy. Two brilliant scholars, Jane Guyer and Federico Neiburg, have assembled an international dream team of experts guiding us into new understandings of economic life. Mixing theoretical insight with fascinating ethnographic evidence, the essays take us along a memorable tour of the lived economic experience in the worlds of finance, households, currency exchanges, black economies and much more. By setting a new research agenda, the book will surely shape future cross-disciplinary research.”
— Viviana Zelizer, author of Economic lives: How culture shapes the economy
Federico Neiburg is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. He is a lead researcher for the Brazilian National Research Council and the coordinator of the Center for Research in Culture and Economy. His books include Empires, Nations, and Natives: Anthropology and State-Making and, more recently, A Cultural History of Money in the Age of Empires.
Jane I. Guyer is Professor Emerita at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of many books, including Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa; Legacies, Logics, Logistics: Essays in the Anthropology of the Platform Economy; and a new translation of Marcel Mauss’s The Gift: Expanded Edition.
The Real Economy