The Moral Economy of Markets: Constituting and Resisting Relations of Power (2018-2019)

The creation of capitalist markets has been, and continues to be, a transformative process, involving the displacement of peoples from their homelands as well as the disruption of traditional norms, cultures and institutions. Such markets have brought disparate worlds together across geographies, identities and sociocultures, linking projects of market-driven modernization in intimate ways.

This project team explored the experiences and narratives of those thrown into various states of vulnerability, objectification and precarity by the voracious spread of market logic. In particular, the team examined the following key questions:

  • How do vulnerable populations reconfigure territories and lives with and against the incursions of marketizations and what can be learned from their experiences?
  • In what ways do individuals and communities navigate, operate outside of and/or defy the market’s system of dependence and precarity to find creative means of resilience, sustainability and wellbeing?
  • What lessons might be gleaned from modes of persistence, resilience and resistance that inform responses to planetary disasters, escalating inequalities, the disintegration of traditional communities, the expulsions of peoples and species and the deadening of land and seas?
  • What alternative narratives exist that may point the way toward a more equitable, just and sustainable future? And what might the role of markets be in this future?

In Spring 2019, the team hosted numerous public lectures featuring prominent scholars of ethics, economics, cultural anthropology, history and literature. In collaboration with several international partners, the team also began creation of an interactive website (designed as a connection hub for a wide range of scholars and scholarship as well as a repository for curricular materials) and prepared a special issue on “moral economy of markets” for a peer-reviewed journal.


Fall 2018 – Fall 2019

Team Outputs

The Moral Economy of Markets: Constituting and Resisting Relations of Power (poster by Aaron Cohen, Kathryn Howley, Prassana Malavika Rajagopalar, Alexander Martin, Niranjan Menon, Hira Shah, Allayne Thomas, Rachel Wall, Xiangyu Zheng, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

This Team in the News

Dirk Philipsen and the Wellbeing Revolution

Moral Economy of Markets Kicks Off Spring Lecture Series with Talks on Climate Change and Global Indebtedness

Meet the Members of the 2018-19 Student Advisory Council


Old world map

Team Leaders

  • Michaeline Crichlow, Arts & Sciences-African and African American Studies
  • Dirk Philipsen, Sanford School of Public Policy

/graduate Team Members

  • Aaron Cohen, Public Policy Studies-AM
  • Niranjana Menon, Analytical Political Econ - AM
  • Prasanna Malavika Rajagopalan, Master of Engineering Mgmt-MEG
  • Rachel Wall, Public Policy Studies-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Gianna Affi
  • Kathryn Howley, Economics (BS), Global Health (AB2)
  • Alexander Martin, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Liam Nolan
  • Musa Saleem
  • Hira Shah, Political Science (AB)
  • Allayne Thomas, Int Comparative Studies (AB)
  • Xiangyu Zheng, Economics (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Christine Folch, Arts & Sciences-Cultural Anthropology
  • Anne-Maria Makhulu, Arts & Sciences-Cultural Anthropology
  • Gunther Peck, Arts & Sciences-History
  • Elizabeth Shapiro-Garcia, Nicholas School of the Environment