Call for Papers: Materiality and Poverty at EASA 2012

October 26th 2011

Workshop title: Materiality and Poverty

Chair: Erin B. Taylor

Discussant: Daniel Miller

Abstracts due: November 28, 2011

We are pleased to invite the submission of abstracts for the following workshop at the next EASA conference in Nanterre, Paris, from the 10th-13th July 2012.  The theme of the conference is 'Uncertainty and Disquiet'. More information on our workshop can be found below and also on the EASA site. Please submit abstracts by the 28th November by logging into the EASA website, and feel free to email me if you have any questions. We are looking forward to a great discussion in Paris!

The materiality of poverty II: Squatting as an enabling constraint in the Dominican Republic

October 24th 2011

In my last post I argued that the material culture of poor people is not reducible to their poverty, and gave the example of Haiti's rich cultural traditions, including their art and religious artefacts.

In this post I want to discuss how living in a squatter settlement can affect the relationship of poor people with their material culture.  When people are living in conditions of abject poverty, to what extent can we really say that their material culture can be analyzed separately to their poverty?

The materiality of poverty I: Crisis and resilience in Haiti

October 20th 2011

If materiality is integral to poverty, can poor people have positive relationships with materiality? Common understandings of poverty reduce the relationship of low income people with material culture largely to the expression of inequality as seen in their lack of income and possessions.

But just like everyone else, ‘poor’ people use material forms to creatively construct their social identities and communities, and transform their socioeconomic situations. Indeed their relationship to homes, clothes and other material goods may be more complex and nuanced precisely because the range is more constrained.

The materiality of the poor is not necessarily a materiality of poverty.

Creole economics: The case of the ‘Haitian dollar’

October 17th 2011

In the contemporary world we often think of economic systems as having little to do with local cultural practices. Shell money and barter have long been replaced with state-issued fiat money, customs houses and large-scale transnational trade.

If we do think about financial practices as having a cultural edge, we are probably most likely to focus on consumption, where local cultures have obvious influences on purchasing practices, or on the informal economy, where ‘street culture’ dictates the everyday running of distribution systems.