Cultures of Currencies Conference

Cultures of Currencies Conference
Fri May 17th 2019, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Main Quad Building 260, Room 252 (German Studies Library)

Speaker(s): Christian Moser, David Murillo, Elixabete Ansa, Elsie Michie, Germán Labrador, Jan Söffner, Simona Škrabec, Till Förster

Following the radical reformulation of what is understood as ‘economic behavior’ in the wake of the late Gary Becker’s theories, human beings are understood as constantly calculating creatures, and their cultural and social interactions have, thus, come to be regarded as economic operations. The inherent notions of the theory of “human capital” can, by now, be traced in peoples’ attitudes towards their own lives and actions: metaphors such as ‘investing’ in relationships, and hoping to get an appropriate ‘return’, and describing people, environments, or institutions that do not seem to work to our own satisfaction as ‘liabilities’ are increasingly common. Research in sociology and the (cultural) history of science has, over the years, retraced the theoretical development of this pervasive notion as well as its habitual implementation into our society, and, thus, has successfully questioned the ubiquity of economic rationality as ‘naturally’ given.
The Cultures of Currencies conference, however, will set out to turn the tables on this way of thinking: Instead of reading all kinds of behavior as economic, we propose to regard economic behavior as cultural and to investigate markets as cultures. So, whereas the economic view tends to level differences not only between various fields of behavior, but also between historical periods and geographical areas by seeing them as following from the same ‘economic laws’, looking at markets as cultures encourages us instead to focus on the cultural relativity of fundamental economic concepts – first and foremost those of “market”, “currency”, “exchange” and “property” –, as well as the underlying idea of the economic “subject”. This perspective also requires us to question the disciplinary divide between the ‘political’ and the ‘economic’ and thus to analyze political systems as economies and, vice versa, to understand markets as systems of power.
This conference is a collaborative project between Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and Zeppelin Universität in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The first part of the conference on May 17, 2019 will take place at Stanford, while the second part will be in Friedrichshafen, Germany in October of 2019. 
The conference is sponsored by the Writing & Money Research Unit of the Stanford Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, the Stanford Europe Center's Iberian Studies program and the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst). 
Conference Speakers: 

  • Christian Moser (Universität Bonn)

  • David Murillo (ESADE)

  • Elixabete Ansa (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

  • Elsie Michie (LSU) 

  • Germán Labrador (Princeton University)

  • Jan Söffner (Zeppelin Universität) 

  • Simona Škrabec (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) 

  • Till Förster (University of Basel)

For more information, please visit the conference website here