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The Racial Capitalism of Blockchain: Between Human-Computer Flourishing and Computational Slavery

Uptown Campus

Featuring Bill Maurer

On April 5th,  Dr. Bill Maurer will give the final talk of the Tulane Anthropology Colloquium Series 2018-2019: An Exploration of Power Through Practice. 

Please join us for light refreshments at 3:30 pm and the talk at 4:00 pm (see abstract below). 

Renaissance double-entry bookkeeping provided a vision of truth. It derived from a specific moral order (the subject as orator of his moral progress), instituted a new way of understanding "facts," and centrally animated the economic relations of capitalism. Others have argued that these relations found their fullest form––relying crucially on double-entry––in the transatlantic slave trade. If double-entry heralded the slave trade, what do new technologies of accounting, like the distributed ledgers of blockchain, portend? They also derive from a specific moral order, arising in technolibertarian or anarcho-libertarian philosophies, and very specific notions of the economy as 'agoric' (an evocation of ancient Greek systems of political domination). This talk outlines the state of play of blockchain as an accounting device and its implications for new forms of political domination in computational guise.

Dr. Bill Maurer is a cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment. He has authored four books and is the founding director of the Institute of Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion. Dr. Maurer is one of the leading anthropologists at the juncture of law, financing, banking, and technology, and was named to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2016.

This event was made possible by generous support from the Center for Scholars. 

Center for Scholars