La Ciénaga, one of the poorest of Santo Domingo’s barrios. Photo by Erin B. Taylor.

La Ciénaga, one of the poorest of Santo Domingo’s barrios. Photo by Erin B. Taylor.

Squatter settlements around the world are not generally considered to bestow financial or social security upon the people who live in them. Rather, they tend to be portrayed in two ways.

First, they are often described as places that trap people in poverty. The rationale is that lack of access to capital – economic, social, cultural – make the barriers to socioeconomic mobility so high as to be virtually insurmountable without outside intervention. People are, in this view, stuck in a “cycle” or “culture” of poverty.

Second, squatter settlements are overwhelmingly viewed as places of precariousness. Residents live a hand-to-mouth existence, employment opportunities are tenuous, and the future is uncertain. Moreover, given residents’ illegal occupation of the land on which they live, the threat of eviction hangs over these communities, discouraging people from improving their homes and thereby precluding their chances of (literally) building up their investments. Squatter settlements are subject to change, but again, not in a desirable way.

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Post image for 30% off Materializing Poverty

Rollup, rollup! AltaMira have just sent me discount flyers for my book. If you were considering buying it but were holding off because of the price, now’s the time to make your move. There’s a USA flyer and an international flyer for people living everywhere else.

Both flyers give a 30% discount and are valid for both the hardback and ebook.

Please do feel free to let me know what you think of the book. You never know, I might want to write another one someday, and feedback will help me make the next one better! Besides, as an author it’s always nice to be reminded that you’re in conversation with other people, even when it’s not direct. Happy reading!


The moral economies of material things

by Erin B Taylor May 24, 2014
Street stalls in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Erin B. Taylor.

The concept of moral economy is a natural fit to analyses of material culture. In this working paper, I show how the concept has applications to all three research projects that I have carried out on the island of Hispaniola since I began conducting fieldwork there in 2004. In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2004-2012), I researched the relationship between […]

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The curation of the self in the age of the Internet

by Erin B Taylor May 16, 2014
Walter Benjamin, Warholified by me via

In his famous 1936 essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin describes how art was historically used for ritual purposes. Because the ritual value of art was tied up with its uniqueness, it was unthinkable to reproduce a work of art. In some respects, this phenomenon continues to exist […]

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New article on art markets in Hispaniola

by Erin B Taylor May 12, 2014
A Haitian painting of a marketplace

It’s been many years since I swapped my fine art studies for anthropology and economics, but my interests are now converging. I’ve just published a paper about the trade of paintings in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the journal Visual Studies. My paper, called “Why the cocks trade: what a transnational art market can reveal about cross-border […]

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New chapter on mobile money aesthetics

by Erin B Taylor May 9, 2014
Thumbnail image for New chapter on mobile money aesthetics

Heather Horst and I are happy to announce that our foray into exploring the aesthetics of mobile money is now in print. Published in The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media (edited by Gerard Goggin and Larissa Hjorth), our chapter is called “The Aesthetics of Mobile Money Platforms in Haiti.” We examine the design, aesthetics and use of Digicel’s TchoTcho […]

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Amsterdam: A money laboratory for centuries

by Erin B Taylor March 29, 2014
A bull outside the Amsterdam stock exchange. The statue was originally placed at the other side of the square, but relocated for better photo opportunities. Photo by Erin B. Taylor

Take a walk around Amsterdam’s historic centre. What do you see? Canals, coffee shops, and stalls selling tulip bulbs are some of the typical features promoted to visitors. Beneath this veneer, however, is a rather startling history of financial innovation whose consequences are felt globally. To get closer to this legacy, I took a walking […]

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MoneyLab: Is money the issue?

by Erin B Taylor March 25, 2014
Money makes the world go round. Can non-money achieve the same thing?

The meeting of minds in viva is over. Posters removed, photos posted on Flickr, speakers returned home on multimodal transport. But MoneyLab the project has just begun. The two-day conference was not the cumulation of years of research, but the launch of a new endeavour to network diverse minds to consider “digital experiments with revenue […]

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MoneyLab: Is mobile money an alternative?

by Erin B Taylor March 24, 2014
Cash flies through the air in M-PESA's

The topic of mobile money is a somewhat anachronistic addition to a conference called MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives. In some ways, its inclusion in the conference makes total sense: mobile money is an alternative way to transact, and is providing new options to millions of people around the world who previously had to depend upon informal […]

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MoneyLab: Questioning the monetization of everything

by Erin B Taylor March 22, 2014
The very snazzy MoneyLab poster

The 2007-2008 financial crisis revealed serious fissures in the global financial system. Between housing foreclosures and the failure of large banks, few people seemed to escape its effects. Some people approached this crisis as an opportunity, hoping that it would trigger a serious public conversation about the shape of finance and its effects on human […]

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