Mariana Saavedra-Espinosa

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Charleston, College of

Grant number

Gr. 10061

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Saavedra-Espinosa, Mariana (College of Charleston, Charleston, SC), "Best Practice Runs in our Family”: Whiteness, Capitalism and Family Business Governance in Colombia"

My book manuscript revisits an old question of economists, business historians and management experts: why is family business ownership so prevalent among important companies in Colombia? Through an ethnographic and anthropological perspective I decenter economistic and culturalistic accounts by drawing on insights on the particularities of racialization in Colombia to think about the continued reproduction of families through business and capital, and the undergirding of capitalist motivations by racialized social fields. For the last ten years, I have carried out ethnographic field work on the implementation by capitalist families in Bogot’, Colombia, of a set of management technical solutions known as family governance which seek to ‘rationalize’ family business functioning. Drawing on this research, I analyze how rationalization fits within liberal conceptions of social hierarchy associated with business achievement through rationality which hold symbolic significance within the dominant ideologies of race and descent related to the legacy of mestizaje. In doing this, my ethnographic engagement with the reproduction of racial difference through economic practice among a ‘non-marked’ sector of the population not only provides an account of the reproduction of capitalism through racial difference but also of the reproduction of racial difference through capitalist practice.