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Cultures of Economies Research Group

A project of the University Program in Cultural Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

John Pickles
Lawrence Grossberg






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The ‘Cultures of Economies Research Group’ is a forum at UNC-CH for scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and professional schools to engage with critical debates about the role of culture, space, and economy. The Research Group seeks to contribute to inter-disciplinary dialogues about the practices of economy in everyday life through regular faculty and graduate student workshops, research paper presentations, reading groups, and an annual symposium.

In recent years, how the ‘economy’ is thought and acted upon has become an issue of concern to a wider range of researchers, activists, and policy makers. The growing importance of the Bretton Woods institutions (IBRD, IMF, and WTO), transformations in public and private forms of governance, and the ways in which local, regional, and international development have all been shaped by economic thought and practice has also given rise to fundamental questions about the relationship between ‘the economy’ and other domains and practices of socio-spatial life. Researchers in the social sciences and the humanities (including economists themselves) have begun to suggest that ‘the economy’ needs to be understood in broader and more complex institutional, geographical, and cultural contexts. The consequences of globalization, internationalization of economic institutions and practices, and transformations in local, regional, and federal economies in the United States have similarly demonstrated the importance of culture and space in thinking about taken for granted assumptions and descriptions of national economies.

The Research Group is concerned with three issues:
1. the relations among new forms of economic collectivity, practices of economic governance and development, and patterns of institutional and geographical organization;
2. the proliferation of competing and contested vocabularies for describing and explaining economic relations (competition, comparative advantage, value chains, communities, networks, circuits of production, alternative and diverse economies, free markets, fair trade, etc.) and the distinct geographies they produce; and
3. how research and pedagogy are being reshaped by the intersecting demands of multidisciplinary and international perspectives.