AANA18125U Anthropology of Finance

Volume 2021/2022

How does finance shape markets, institutions and daily life across the globe? How and with what social implications have credit and debt become the most significant commodities in contemporary capitalism?  What worldviews, forms of government and subjectivities emerge from the processes through which finance extends its influence? In recent decades, the development of finance capitalism has resulted in a shift in income generation away from manufacturing and commerce and towards the trading of money and financial assets. This shift has not only resulted in a general reorientation in profit making and a growing influence of institutions trading with money (e.g. investment banks, hedge funds, rating and auditing companies), but also in an increasing financialization of everyday life. Private households are drawn into financial markets by mortgages, pension funds and consumer loans. The anthropology of finance consists of an interdisciplinary set of approaches aimed at analyzing not only the mechanisms within, but also the world-views, networks, practices and far-reaching sociocultural, political and economic implications of this development. In this course, we aim to unpack the field and counter prevailing assumptions by ‘siting’ finance in various national and social contexts. The course identifies the variety of forms that finance might take but also analyses social implications in terms of inequality, influence of neoliberal logics and debt problems. We will analyze the various levels of finance including market logics and corporate forms and as well as the commodification of everyday life, where finance has increasingly become ‘us’. Throughout, we will engage in critical theoretical reflections on the relationships across both the scales and domains involved in financialization. The format consists of teacher introductions, interactive class activities, oral and written assignments which requires students’ active participation.

Learning Outcome


At the end of the course students are expected to:

  • be able to identify key research areas and analytical issues in the field of finance anthropology
  • be able to identify a relevant anthropological research problem related to the field of finance
  • be able to write a well-structured essay on finance drawing on the literature from anthropology of finance as a broad and interdisciplinary field.



At the end of the course students are expected to:

  • demonstrate insight into ethnographic research in the field of finance
  • demonstrate knowledge of relations between the forms finance takes and specific socio-economic and political contexts.
  • show knowledge of the main theoretical perspectives in social studies of finance understood as an interdisciplinary field



At the end of the course students must be able to:

  • be able to identify social processes related to finance within and across analytical levels in anthropology
  • be able to apply concepts and methods in social studies of finance in analyzing a concrete empirical case

See Absalon

The course will consist of 14 three-hour weekly seminars, involving lectures, group discussions, student presentations, etc.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 133
  • Exam Preparation
  • 35
  • Total
  • 210
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
One BA student: 21600-26400 keystrokes. For group responses, Min. 6,750 and Max. 8,250 extra keystrokes per extra group member.

One MA student: 27,000-33,000 keystrokes. For group responses, Min. 8,450 and Max. 10,300 extra keystrokes per extra group member.

For groups with both BA and MA students:
A MA and a BA student: 31,900-38,975 (BA: 14.175-17.325 KA: 17.725-21.650)
A MA and two BA students: 38,050 – 46,475 (BA: 11,700-14.300 KA: 14.650-17.875)
A MA and three BA students: 44,525-54,375 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
Two MA and one BA student: 41,000-50,050 (BA: 11,700-14.300 KA: 14.650-17.875)
Two MA and two BA students: 47,150-57,550 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)
Three MA and one BA student: 49,775-60,725 (BA: 10.475-12,800 MA: 13.100-15.975)

MA students must include supplementary literature in the exam assignment. The supplementary literature is chosen by the student.

Iof level and contribution
Students must indicate on the first page of the assignment whether they are a BA or MA students. In the case of group assignments, the contribution of each individual student must be clearly marked in the assignment.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

1st re-exam: An essay must be submitted. The new assignment must be submitted by the deadline for the re-exam.

2nd re-exam: A new essay must be submitted. The new assignment must be submitted by the deadline for the re-exam.

Essay length: 21,600–26,400 keystrokes for an individual submission. 6,750–8,250 keystrokes per extra member for group submissions. The maximum number of students who can write an essay in a group is four.

For groups writing together it must be clearly indicated which parts of the assignment each of the students has written.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.