This month we’ve a new title coming out in the Antipode Book Series – Brett Christophers’ Banking Across Boundaries: Placing Finance in Capitalism.
Beginning with the assertion that critiques of the banking industry’s economic productiveness are manifestations of a problematic duality that imposes socially constructed oppositions between productive and non-productive and ‘real’ and financial economies, Banking Across Boundaries offers a unique synthesis of theoretical approaches to relate two historical narratives. It details the processes by which Western banking has internationalised, and analyses how representations of the banking sector’s ‘productiveness’, or otherwise, have taken different forms throughout the evolution of Western economic theory, mutating in tandem with the latter’s development.
Examining the relationship between these two narratives, Brett sheds light on how we, as a society, ‘place’ finance conceptually; on how banks, as economic institutions, have ‘placed’ themselves geographically; and on how these two modes of placement have become increasingly intertwined. In the process, the book illuminates not only how economic ideas ‘perform’ and shape the economic world, but how those ideas are themselves always products of particular economic realities. This original contribution to the perennial debate over the financial services industry will be read with added urgency by scholars spurred on in their analyses by the contemporary financial crisis.
Chapter one is available to read, free of charge, online now.
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Brett – who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Economic Geography and the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at the University of Uppsala – has received some great reviews of the book (including this one, ‘The devil is in the detail: Lies, damned lies and accounting for the value of banking‘, from the University of Nottingham’s Andrew Leyshon):
‘An innovative, well-researched and invaluable book on the importance of banks and banking to contemporary capitalism. The vital importance of their cross-boundary activity and the controversy over whether and how they really do contribute to the wealth of nations are here illuminated in novel ways.’
David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, City University of New York
‘A trenchant, theoretically sophisticated analysis of the reciprocal relationship between economic ideas and material developments in banking and finance. In a book sure to make economists and ordinary citizens rethink the recent financial crisis, Christophers demands that we take the long historical view and place national economies in a global context. This is a fresh, exciting, and probing call for more expansive frames of economic analysis and more critical reflection on the data that allow us to know what we think we know about productivity and finance.’
Mary Poovey, Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities, New York University
‘In Banking Across Boundaries Brett Christophers walks us through a history of capitalism that considers the importance of how financial intermediation is counted in economic geographies. Crucial here is the evolution of banks’ spatial anatomy and conceptions of banks’ economic productiveness. Explained over three periods of capitalist development, Christophers does a splendid job in detailing how ideas and practices enable one another in how banks operate across boundaries and why they are considered to be productive in modern national accounting. This book is of great interest to all scholars of finance in the international political economy.’
Leonard Seabrooke, Professor of International Political Economy and Economic Sociology, Copenhagen Business School