Special section in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and The Middle East, vol. 35, no.3, nr. 2015
Edited by Laura Bear, Ritu Birla and Stine Simonsen Puri
Duke University Press, 2015
Speculation structures the unprecedented breadth and depth of contemporary global capitalism. We define it as an engagement with uncertainty that aims to materialize potential futures. Studies of economization and financialization have highlighted the production of value through transparent practices of calculation and have focused on the Global North. As an alternative, we use ethnographic and historical genealogical methods to explore predictive practices that are motivated by contingency and aim to make uncertainty productive. India, a celebrated emerging market and dense arena of capitalist promise and failure, provides the foundations for our approach. The speculative practices we focus on challenge the distinction between formal and informal, the licit and illicit, because they fuel rationalized market regimes, as well as worlds of precarity. Our approach reveals the governmentalities, public cultures, and market actions that are characteristic of the present pursuit of value for profit and survival.