Copenhagen ADI Conference 2016
8th annual international ADI conference
Asian Dynamics Initiative
University of Copenhagen 20-22 June 2016

Ethnographies of Capitalist Transformation across Asia

Conveners: Dan Hirslund and Rune Bennike, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Luisa Steur, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen

From the dawn of the industrial revolution onwards, the expansion of capital has played a key role in shaping social and political transformations in Asian societies. Since the global hegemony of finance capital that began in the 1980s, capital has taken on an even more determinant role. Increasingly freed from national regulation, the logic of capital – its drive for profit - has penetrated ever new domains, resulting in new forms of marketization. This panel seeks to explore capitalist transformation as it manifests itself in specific ethnographic settings and leads to new configurations of, for instance, class, labor, and identity. We are interested in understanding how drives for marketization blend with and alter existing political, cultural and social histories, for instance through the commodification of nature, the financialization of monsoon irrigation, “growth”-oriented post-crisis “recovery”, or new “horizontal” forms of indebtedness. The panel grows out of the multidisciplinary network for Critical Studies of Capitalist Transformation at UCPH where the interest has been to explore how global capital penetrates distinct ethnographic field sites through comparative dynamics. In contrast to the “varieties of capitalism” school, this panel seeks to explore the particularity of local inequalities, class formations and strategies of capital accumulation as related to global structural power dynamics. The panel is open for contributions that seek to explore these dynamics through original historical or ethnographic material across disciplinary boundaries.