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Durham University

Economy & Culture


All staff members of the Economy & Culture research cluster provide full details of their research grants, publications and awards on their personal webpages. Below are a selected number that showcase the diverse work of the Economy & Culture cluster.

Philip Leverhulme Prize

Building on Ben Anderson's recent work on life and the politics of affect, part of his recently awarded Philip Leverhulme Prize will involve examining how western life has come to be governed through 'emergency'. Over the second half of the twentieth century, 'emergency' shifted from being a term applied to a limited number of events to a term used in relation to almost any event. The research aims to understand how and why this change happened, connecting it to shifts in ordinary affective life and transformations in the state’s relation to futures. To understand the birth of the 'emergency state', the research will range from the materialities of ordinary emergency techniques, such as the police cordon or emergency exit sign, to the formalisation of novel ways of responding to events, including rapid response.

Ethical Production in South Africa: Advancing a Cultural Economy Approach

Cheryl McEwan is the Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust funded project 'Ethical Production in South Africa: Advancing a Cultural Economy Approach'. Jointly based within the Geography Departments of Durham and Newcastle Universities, the project seeks to evaluate the dynamics of ethical trade within international agri-supply chains emanating from South Africa. Two case studies of ethical production have been the focus of the research. One of these is the Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative (EAC), the world's first Fairtrade Raisin producer, who supply raisins to Traidcraft in the United Kingdom (UK). The second case study focuses upon 'sustainable wild flower harvesting' on the Agulhas Plain, which has successfully tapped into international markets including Marks and Spencer in the UK. Beyond these two case studies, the research has looked at broader issues around the rollout of ethical trade in South Africa.

For further details see the Ethical Production in South Africa website.

Families and Cities

Christopher Harker is currently conducting a project funded by The Leverhulme Trust (2012 - 2015), which seeks to understand how families enable people to live in the city of Ramallah through everyday practices that create and maintain specific social, economic and political resources and connections. Using an ethnographic approach, the empirical research examines the everyday financial lives of migrants who have recently moved to Ramallah, the entanglement of their economic practices with familial and other social ties, and the political consequences of these emerging relations. The research thus seeks to contextualise various contemporary developments in Palestine, such as the growth of personal and Palestinian Authority indebtedness, from the vantage point of rapidly growing neighbourhoods such as Umm al-Shara’et where the research is being conducted, and spatial relations that dis/connect Ramallah with a number of elsewheres. The project will also better theorise families in relation to cities.

For further details see the Families and Cities website.

The Waste of the World

Nicky Gregson (Durham, PI and Director) and Michael A. Crang (Durham, Co-I) have recently completed The Waste of the World programme (ESRC Large Grant, 2006 - 2011). The project is concerned with recycling and waste economies within global recycling networks, and spans sites in South Asia (Bangladesh and India) as well as the UK and continental Europe. At the broadest of levels, the programme is an extended engagement with materiality, as well as with the literature on global commodity chains and global value chains, which barely consider recycling, and allied economies of waste and disposal. The programme’s twin starting points are that all economic activity is in some way material (although much social science seems to have forgotten this) and that waste (as residues) is therefore an intrinsic part of economic life, and not just the concern of disposal i.e. waste management. In terms of approaches, the programme brings together performative cultural economy (my interests) with a culturally sensitive political economy (the interests of other collaborators on the programme).

For further details see The Waste of the World page.