Southern Futures: Thinking Through Emerging Markets

The South is undergoing a dramatic transformation in the eyes of the world. It has not only been given a new name – emerging market – that signals fresh territories found desirable by global investors and policymakers, it also hints at escalation and acceleration in the pace of history long deemed to be locked in a static temporal space. The seductive sign of emerging market now stands for extractable natural resources, cheap techno-friendly labor and a vast consumer base waiting to be fully untapped. Most of all it stands for the magical promise of economic ‘growth’ that has become a much longed for and elusive goal in Euro-America after the financial crisis.

The popular discourse of the ‘emerging market century’ means that the old periphery is now also being re-inscribed in a new global order beyond the previous hierarchies of first/third, and developed/developing world. The erstwhile Third World nations in this vision are arranged according to their anticipated value, potential profitability and investor access – emerging markets, next emerging markets and frontier markets – gradually seeking to attain the ultimate status of ‘mature markets’ in the West. In short, the opportunity to ‘break’ from the ranks of the Third World and ‘emerge’ to attain the world-class status now seems to be freely available to the nations in the South. 

In this workshop, we critically trace the idea and the moment of ‘emerging markets’ within the broader history of the South. The contributors explore the ways in which the idea of emerging markets has been historically manufactured; the role of the shifting gaze and new modes of representation of the Third World; ongoing conflicts of natural resources; and new forms of development aid and investments. An array of interdisciplinary contributions from historians, anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, economists and scholars of development studies offer accounts of the promise, contradictions, failures and even genealogical shifts in the production of emerging markets.

The workshop is the first launch event of the new research programme ‘Emerging Worlds: Explorations in New South-South Connections’ funded by the Danish Council of Independent Research (FKK).

Registration is closed