Jorge Nunez

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Cuenca, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9884

Approve Date

October 9, 2019

Project Title

Nunez, Jorge (Universidad de Cuenca & FLACSO - Ecuador ) "Markets of Excitement: Debt and Playfulness in Times of Austerity in Catalonia "

Markets of Excitement is a book project about debt and playfulness in the field of finance during the Great Spanish Recession. Its broader context includes the rise of Catalan secessionism and the Eurozone crisis. The book analyzes ludic engagements with speculative forms of debt on the part of everyday people that help them endure, understand, and sometimes challenge increasing structural inequalities in financialized societies, such as the dismantling of welfare institutions, massive unemployment, and gender discrimination. The project calls into question contemporary theories of debt that characterize it as inherently destructive or inherently productive. By contrast, my ethnography shows that debt is a constant site of negotiation and improvisation informed by multiple registers of affect, knowledge, and value. My main argument suggests that even highly predatory financial infrastructures and practices open up space for anti-crisis narrations and critiques. In showing how playfulness arises in small-time financial speculation, Markets of Excitement traverses a series of social terrains ranging from government offices, street protests, self-help courses, social media, and psychiatric clinics. Rather than trivializing the negative and damaging effects of financialization, my book seeks to illustrate how the distinction between debt as liability and debt as asset disappears not only for powerful financiers, but also for everyday people who are either enticed or forced to envision their futures through debt-based financial instruments.