A political anthropology of finance: Profits, states and cultures in cross-border investment in Shanghai

Horacio Ortiz


Based on participant observation with financial professionals working for a mergers and acquisitions consultancy company in Shanghai, this essay shows that they conduct these transactions by mobilizing imaginaries of “profits,” “states,” and “cultures.” These imaginaries concern professional and nonprofessional life and are multiple, sometimes contradictory, and mutually constitutive. This shows that the analytic claim about a “real economy,” against which financial practices would be gauged, misses the multiple meanings whereby these practices make sense for those who carry them out. The article proposes instead a pragmatist approach of money, whose political import would be to focus on how the practices and meanings of financial professionals, as they channel money to certain activities at the expense of others, contribute to produce global social hierarchies in the access to monetary resources.


China, finance, money, global, political anthropology, border, culture, state

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau7.3.018