eventMarch 16 2021

Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay

Hannah Appel and Astra Taylor

Network Talk

In this Network Talk, Authors Hannah Appel and Astra Taylor discuss their new book, Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition (2020) and debt and the financialization of life with Director of Research, Sareeta Amrute. They share their work to build debtors unions at the Debt Collective and explain how data and financialization form a major pillar of indebtedness and precarity today, and what creative ways out of indebtedness might be.

Network Events provide a platform for scholars and researchers to present their work, frame key debates in the field, and gather feedback from a community of interdisciplinary thinkers.

Resources from the conversation

About the Speakers

Sareeta Amrute is an anthropologist who studies race, labor, and class in global tech economies. She is currently investigating sensation and social movements among Asian immigrants in the United States and digital payments in India. Her recent book, Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin, is an account of the relationship between cognitive labor and embodiment, told through the stories of programmers from India who move within migration regimes and short-term coding projects in corporate settings.

Encoding Race, Encoding Class was awarded the 2017 Diana Forsythe Prize in the anthropology of science, technology, and medicine, conferred jointly by the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing and the Society for the Anthropology of Work, and the 2019 International Convention of Asian Studies Book Prize for the Social Sciences.

Amrute is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington.

Hannah Appel an economic anthropologist interested in the daily life of capitalism, the private sector in Africa, and the re-emergent dialogue between economics and anthropology. Her research and teaching interests are guided by the economic imagination.

Currently, she is developing a second ethnographic project—Pan African Capital: Finance, Banking, and Economic Self-Fashioning—to continue her inquiry into the licit life of capitalism in Africa’s private sector, and the displacement of how and from where we think about global capitalism. Pan African Capital is a multi-sited project based on ethnographic work with transnational, African-owned banks and financial institutions on the continent.

Finally, she also works extensively with ongoing Occupy Wall Street projects including Strike Debt and the Debt Collective. These projects work to reimagine finance, capitalism, and economic possibilities for our time, and they demand that the tools of critical theory and the anthropology of finance be tested and sharpened in dynamic public praxis.

Astra Taylor is a writer, documentarian, and organizer. Her films include Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world’s most outrageous philosopher, and Examined Life, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers including Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Cornel West, Peter Singer and others. Both movies premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Taylor’s writing has appeared in The Nation, the London Review of Books, n+1, The Baffler, the New York Times, and elsewhere. She is the editor of Examined Life, a companion volume to the film, and co editor of Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America. She helped launch the Rolling Jubilee and co-founded the Debt Collective. Most recently she is the author of the book The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, winner of a 2015 American Book Award. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow.

About the Hosts

About Data & Society
Data & Society is an independent nonprofit research organization. We believe that empirical evidence should directly inform the development and governance of new technology. We study the social implications of data and automation, producing original research to ground informed, evidence-based public debate about emerging technology.

About The Debt Collective
The Debt Collective is a debtors’ union fighting to cancel debts and defend millions of households. Join us to build a world of reparative public goods, where college is publicly funded, healthcare is universal and housing is guaranteed for all.