Call for Paper Proposals at the 2019 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting, Vancouver, Canada

New markets emerge through “marketization”, a particular process of economization, that is, the assembly and qualification of actions, devices and analytical/ practical descriptions as ‘economic’ by social scientists and market actors (Çalışkan and Callon 2010). Emerging markets not only organize the conception of goods and values, arrange different actors with calculative capacities, but also generate a space of interest, conflicts and power struggles. 

In this panel, we seek to explore various kinds of marketization in the sense that markets are engineered, and particularly how the engineering of new markets may challenge prior assumptions and conceptions of economic socialities. In thinking through engineering, we attend to the broader processes and heterogeneous works such as designing, experimenting, mobilizing, and cultivating as a way of thinking ethnographically what marketization really is. On the one hand, we think through the making and unmaking of what has been called “orphan groups” (Callon and Rabeharisoa 2008), that is, people whose matter of concern is not or no longer taken into account in the development of markets, such as deaf and hard-of-hearing people who feel excluded from the audio-visual digital economy. The deep uncertainties and exclusion they experience everyday constitute a critical resource for self-investigation and innovation, making visible the limits of current economic, political, and scientific institutions. 

On the other hand, we look at how ethics and morality (used interchangeably here) may be engineered as an integral part of engineering markets (Muehlebach 2012, Zhan 2009). Here, by emphasizing engineering, our intention is twofold. First, we want to pay attention to the directionality of ethical transformations in light of newly emergent markets. It can be explored, for example, how entrepreneurial aspirations or monetary incentives gear ethical transformation towards some directions than others, especially in terms of making market(able) subjects. Second, in conversation with the more Foucauldian approach to ethics, where the cultivation of the self is the main site of inquiry (see Lambek 2010), we want to reflect on the efforts of the re-making of the broader ethical ecology. Simply put, ethics engineering here can be thought as the counterpart of the elaboration of the self, that is, the deliberation of what will appear to be the objective good. 

Our panel seeks papers that address various questions emerging from a careful empirical investigation of how markets are engineered. We hope to elicit 3-4 more papers to assemble a panel that addresses related issues from diverse geographic areas and topics. We hope to explore together who constitute marketizing agencies – be them governments, social enterprises, private startups, computer programmers, or activists; which forms of knowledge are mobilized in the process of building new markets; what are the consequences when these actors participate in re-building the conception, the discourse, or ethics of concerned social groups. 

Please send your proposed abstract (max. 250 words), along with affiliation, current status, and contact information to Zihao Lin ([email protected]) and Yifan Wang ([email protected]) by March 25, 2019. For general guidelines of AAA 2019 (call for papers, registration deadlines, accessibility, etc.), please visit

Panel Organized by: Zihao Lin (Humboldt University of Berlin) & Yifan Wang (Rice University)

Discussant: Andrea Muehlebach (University of Toronto)

Works Cited

  • Çalışkan, Koray, and Michel Callon. 2010. "Economization, part 2: a research programme for the study of markets."  Economy and society 39 (1):1-32.
  • Callon, Michel, and Vololona Rabeharisoa. 2008. "The growing engagement of emergent concerned groups in political and economic life: Lessons from the French association of neuromuscular disease patients."  Science, Technology, & Human Values 33 (2):230-61.
  • Lambek, Michael, ed. 2010. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action. New York: Fordham University Press.
  • Muehlebach, Andrea. 2012. The Moral Neoliberal: Welfare and Citizenship in Italy. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  •  Zhan, Mei. 2009. Other-Worldly: Making Chinese Medicine Through Transnational Frames. Durham and London: Duke University Press.