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Wealth, Poverty and Consumption - ANTH222

We are surrounded by economic activity and yet often oblivious to it, like fish in water. Is greed universal? Is a free market inevitable? This unit explores wealth and poverty across cultures, examining the diverse ways people organise their economic life, decide who gets what, and determine what is valuable. We will trace the often extraordinary human connections that together comprise the global chains of production, distribution, consumption, and destruction that make our relationships with everyday commodities possible. Drawing on recent and exciting work devoted to “following the thing” through global value chains, we will strive to put a human face on often anonymous economic structures. Moreover we will question the ethical basis of such anonymity in the first place. We will do so via a sustained focus on the strangeness of familiar objects. From chocolate and T-shirts to bottled water to coffee to tupperware, papayas and smartphones, we will unravel the historical and contemporary connections that have linked distant and different peoples in emergent global economic institutions. We will attend to both the inherent inequalities of wealth and poverty in contemporary global economic formations and seek to illuminate more equitable potential forms such institutions might take in the future. Are a more just set of connections across distance and difference possible?

Credit Points: 3
When Offered:

S2 Day - Session 2, North Ryde, Day

Staff Contact(s): Dr Chris Vasantkumar

ANTH150 or (12cp at 100 level or above) or admission to GDipArts Prerequisite Information


NCCW(s): ANTH278
Unit Designation(s):


Unit Type:
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Anthropology

Faculty of Arts

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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