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The Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series: "Medicalize This! Physician Bankers, Feverish Financial Systems, and Ailing Markets"

Kath Weston, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh Anthropology, University of Virginia
Friday, February 25, 2022
1:00-2:30 PM Off Campus Location
The Department of Anthropology presents
The Michigan Anthropology Colloquium Series

"Medicalize This! Physician Bankers, Feverish Financial Systems, and Ailing Markets"

Abstract: Markets periodically display metaphorical symptoms of pathologies in English-language financial commentary that require them to be attended by policymakers in the guise of physicians who work to restore them to health. Centuries before COVID-19, discourse on financial matters had already become medicalized. Following the global financial crisis of 2008, when some wondered if capitalism itself was under threat, markets were frequently described as having suffered a cardiac arrest. The introduction of quantitative easing policies by central banks in response to the crisis spurred debates about financial generativity, based on analogies with the propagation of organisms: how money multiplies and under what conditions it becomes "cancerously reproductive." Hidden within these discussions are different sorts of bodies: competing conceptions of corporeality tied to historically distinctive European medical regimes, as well as contentious descriptions of how bodies propagate that draw on scientific theories of spontaneous generation and/or sexual reproduction. Without recognizing these differences and understanding more about the history of science, policymakers can end up talking past one another, "prescribing remedies" for markets-cum-bodies that are informed by unexamined assumptions about corporeality and medical treatment.

Bio: Kath Weston is British Academy Global Professor at the University of Edinburgh and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. Her recent work focuses on embodiment and visceral engagement, integrating material from kinship studies, political ecology, social studies of finance, and science and technology studies. She has received multiple honors and awards, including the British Academy Global Professorship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Science Foundation grants, visiting professorships at Tokyo University and the University of Cambridge, and two Ruth Benedict Book Prizes. Her books include Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship; Traveling Light: On the Road with America’s Poor; and Animate Planet: Making Visceral Sense of Living in a High-Tech Ecologically Damaged World.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: AEM Featured, Anthropology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Anthropology