The Human Economy: an interdisciplinary approach to the world economic crisis

with Keith Hart

Thu, Nov 29, 2012

The idea of a ‘Human Economy’ came out of an international movement inspired by the World Social Forum in 2001.  This brought activists and intellectuals together who rejected the dominant free market and command models of twentieth-century economy. These were based on abstract and impersonal models of human behaviour, remote from the concerns of people on the ground, and they left the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants in acute poverty and without meaningful freedom. A human economy would be one that gives priority to what people really do and think, while addressing the needs of humanity as a whole. A program has been set up in Pretoria, South Africa to develop research on the human economy from the perspective of the global South. A short talk will outline its aims and achievements before opening up a conversation about how a project whose academic outputs are still largely limited to words might engage the public in more contemporary ways.

Keith Hart is an anthropologist who lives in Paris. He is Extraordinary Visiting Professor in the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship and Co-Director of the Human Economy Program at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at Goldsmiths, University of London and founded the Open Anthropology Cooperative.
Keith has explored Atlantic society from the point of view of Africans in West Africa, North America, the Caribbean, Britain, France and South Africa. He has taught in a dozen universities on both sides of the Atlantic, for the longest time in Cambridge, where he was Director of the African Studies Centre. He has worked as a consultant, journalist, publisher and gambler. He contributed the concept of the informal economy to development studies and has published widely on economic anthropology, especially about money.

His books include Money in an Unequal World (2001), The Hitman's Dilemma (2005), (principal editor) The Human Economy: A Citizen's Guide (2010), (with C. Hann) Economic Anthropology (2011).

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