One of the striking features of our times is that we have companies that are wealthier than many states around the world. And even when the largest multinationals aren’t bigger, the likes of Apple, Shell, Glencore, Facebook, and Wall Mart still outpower governments on many fronts. Notwithstanding that many consumers may eagerly buy their products and services, due to their
In an article forthcoming with the journal Critique of Anthropology Irene Skovgaard-Smith and I explore the often ambiguous relations between elites and other social groups, both subordinate and of relatively equal standing. We draw on two distinctive ethnographic cases: the white Franco-Mauritian elite, and the expert elite of management consultants in a Western European
From talks with (foreign) corporations and investors active in agriculture in Africa, particularly in Zambia in my case, I realised that many of them are concerned about the issues critics have raised. These critics, ranging from (international) NGOs to local communities, human rights lawyers, international organisations, journalists, and social movements, increasingly point to the
In a pessimistic – or realistic – mood, it is hard to deny that the world’s future looks rather grim: growing inequality appears difficult to undo; the financial system has hardly become safer since the 2007/2008 crisis; and the rising power of BRICS and other Global South economies tends to rely on conventional economic and ecologically destructive growth models. At the same time, and
There is not much new in the observation that markets are closely intertwined with political authority. In the past authorities guaranteed markets to operate, while global financial markets also exist thanks to active state support. If this was not already obvious, then governments acting as lenders of last resort to banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis certainly brought the
After the first shock of the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris had waned, criticism about the unequal attention the victims in France received compared to victims of similar attacks elsewhere in the world quickly surfaced. Why did President Obama give a public announcement relatively soon after the attacks in Paris but had said little about the equally horrible bombings in Beirut one day earlier? Why did Facebook have a Safety Check in the case of Paris but not in other cases? Why was there not a similar global outpour of sympathy for the victims of, for example, the even more lethal attacks at a university in Kenya earlier this year?