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The Materialism of Crisis: Renegotiating Capitalism in the Transatlantic Space

Dissertation Project by
Eric W. Fraunholz

This study follows one basic question: How did the Great Recession 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 discourse after the Great Recession that sought to reconcile economic analysis with ongoing social and political debates. I am expecting to find that interest in a materialist interrelationship of capital and society can be identified as a recurring motif after economic crises. This motif I conceive of as the materialism of crisis.

The study focusses on the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Equitable Growth, the Haas School of Business, and the Goldman School of Public Policy in the US, and Max Planck Institute for the Study of Society, Cologne, in Germany whose work identifies the fundamental facts about social interaction in the organization of material forces. Their analyses revolve around notions of capital, inequality, class, and instability, challenging the economic and political orthodoxy. The protagonists produce relatively discernible intellectual output with transatlantic reach and intellectual focus on the interrelation of economic forces, society, and politics.

The influence of Keynesianism on transatlantic debates in the aftermath of the Great Depression will function as a comparative historical reference point and additionally accentuate the significance of economic crises in transatlantic intellectual history.


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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