“Crisis, value, and hope are three concepts whose intersection and mutual constitution open the door for a rethinking of the nature of economic life away from abstract models divorced from the everyday realities of ordinary people, the inadequacies of which the current world economic crisis has exposed in particularly dramatic fashion. This rethinking seeks to bring to center stage the complex ways in which people attempt to make life worth living for themselves and for future generations, involving not only waged labor but also structures of provisioning, investments in social relations, relations of trust and care, and a multitude of other forms of social action that mainstream economic models generally consider trivial, marginal, and often counterproductive” (excerpt from Narotzky and Besnier’s introduction paper).
The main aim of the “Crisis, Value, and Hope” Current Anthropology open-access issue issue is to fundamentally rethink the nature of economic life, emphasizing the realities of ordinary people in contrast to abstract economic models, which in recent years have proven to be all too unreliable. The varied papers in this issue explore the complex ways in which people in different ethnographic contexts negotiate often precarious conditions to make a life for themselves and for future generations. The 12 contributions that comprise this issue are grouped under three major headings: (1) negotiating regimes of value: debt, shame, sacrifice, and the future, (2) time-space dimensions of making a living in times of uncertainty, and (3) the worth of people and the moral obligation to care.
The articles in this interesting special Current Anthropology issue were developed from papers originally presented at the Wenner-Gren international symposium which took place in Sintra, Portugal, September 14–20, 2012.