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The Materialism of Crisis: Renegotiating Capitalism in the Transatlantic Space

Dissertation Project by
Eric W. Fraunholz

The study follows one basic question: How did the Great Recession of 2008 influence the production of knowledge in the transatlantic space? Proceeding from the debates around Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, the study retraces a transatlantic materialist discourse after the Great Recession in the social sciences and economics. It will also take the debates around Keynesianism in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the history of the Austrian, and Chicago Schools into consideration as comparative historical reference points. I am expecting to find that interest in the interrelationship of capital and society can be identified as a recurring motif after economic crises. This motif I conceive of as a post-recession transatlantic materialism.

The study focusses on protagonists from the University of California, Berkeley and Max Planck Institute for the Study of Society, Cologne; specifically, their intellectual focus on the interrelation of economic forces, society, and politics. Their work identifies the fundamental facts about social interaction in the organization of material forces, which I refer to as the materialism of crisis.

The institutions in this study comprise economists, sociologists, political scientists, and historians whose basis for understanding social interaction are capital and market forces. While materialist perspectives comprise a large spectrum, indeed, this study focuses on notions of capital, inequality, class, and instability.


Racial Ambiguity and Racial Capital: Marketing the Postracial Melting Pot

The essay investigates how racialization is employed as a form of capital at a time when multiracial figures have taken center-stage in fashion magazines, films, and the music scene and are imbued in the media with utopian visions of a ‘postracial’ future. I argue that racial ambiguity is commercially exploited as a resource, both to commodify racialization and to make it appear structurally irrelevant at the same time.

Pisarz-Ramirez, Gabriele. “Racial Ambiguity and Racial Capital: Marketing the Postracial Melting Pot”. In Selling Ethnicity and Race. Consumerism and Representation in Twenty-First-Century America, eds. Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez, Frank Usbeck, Anne Grob, and Maria Lippold (Trier: WVT, 2015): 99–116.

Selling Ethnicity and Race - Consumerism and Representation in Twenty-First-Century America

Pisarz-Ramirez, Gabrielle, Frank Usbeck, Anne Grob and Maria Lippold, eds. Selling Ethnicity and Race: Consumerism and Representation in Twenty-First-Century America. WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag: Trier. 2015. Print. Mosaic. Studien und Texte zur amerikanischen Kultur und Geschichte, Band 57.

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