Debt: Crisis, Risk, Inequality
Grant Arndt, Asst. Prof., Anthropology
April Eisman, Asst. Prof., Art History, Integrated Studio Arts
David Hollander, Assoc. Prof., History
Katie Padgett Walsh, Asst. Prof., Philosophy
Debt has a long history and remains more relevant than ever. From global financial crises to debt ceilings, the rising cost of student loans to calls for debt forgiveness, debt looms as an ominous threat to survival both for individuals and for entire nations. And yet, in other cultural and historical conditions, recognition of indebtedness to others has been a key building block of social life. As a framework for both human and inhumane relationships, and for reflections on the value and values of those relationships, debt brings together concerns throughout the liberal arts and sciences.
This group endeavors to approach debt from a variety of disciplines, theoretical perspectives, historical contexts, and contemporary discussions. We invite others to join us in analyzing the synchronic and diachronic, negative as well as positive aspects of what it means to be in debt and indebted. Proposed avenues of inquiry include, but are not limited to: credit/debt systems throughout the history of political economy; the role of value and gifts; the relationship between debt and crisis; risk versus reward with respect to debt; the impact of social media and social movements on contemporary discussions about debt; the question of how individual obligations to repay debt are impacted by larger forces at work in society and the economy, e.g. risky lending practices, third world political developments, etc. The Debt Research Cluster encourages not only faculty participation but also community and student involvement in discussing a topic that has come to increasingly impact societies, communities, and individuals throughout the world. We hope to offer a unique approach to current debt crises, both local and international, while considering their lasting impacts as well as proposing potential solutions.