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Haverford College

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On April 23—24, experts in anthropology, literature, and politics participated in a symposium called “Cultures of Capitalism,” sponsored by the John B. Hurford Humanities Center and the Distinguished Visitors Committee. Inspired by a faculty seminar entitled “Culture, Value, Cultural Value,” that she attended last year, Haverford Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jennifer Patico undertook the task of organizing the symposium.

Besides a desire to “keep the energy of the seminar going,” Patico’s own work as an ethnographic anthropologist and her research in capitalism and consumerism in Russia inspired her to develop the event. “I hope this symposium is going to enrich intellectual life on the Haverford campus,” she says.

The symposium brought speakers from the University of Chicago, New York University, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, the University of Illinois, and the City University of New York to campus. Visiting scholars, who specialize in a variety of disciplines, discussed topics such as “100 Years of Spectacle: Metamorphoses of Times Square,” and “Homeland Marketing: Gender, Diaspora and Media Entrepreneurs.” The symposium emphasized the connection between economics and culture, diversity and capitalism, and property ownership and human rights.

It also included undergraduates in the faculty conversation. In that vein, the events opened with students from Patico’s course “Love and the Market: Intersections of Gender, Economy, and Morality,” which addresses the relationships between family structures and economics. The students presented their research papers.

Patico wants to bring fresh perspectives to the issue of capitalism. “Capitalism as a way of life speaks to cross-curricular interests,” she says. “A range of opportunities for thinking about capitalism in cultural ways, as a way of life and from a global perspective will be available.” An overlap in the speakers’ interests provides a link between the events. Adds Patico, “ I wanted the symposium to provide an opportunity to think about enduring theoretical debates in the social sciences and humanities.” Discussions were built into the weekend’s events to foster dialogue among scholars, students, and guests.

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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