Society for Economic Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and amidst increasing levels of distrust in conventional political-economic structures across Southern Europe, we see the proliferation economic spaces that are presented as alternatives to the dominant political-economic system. Such alternatives often revolve around creating more localized economic circuits that are said to be based on values such as solidarity, equality, and trust (confianza). Indeed, trust has traditionally been viewed as a kind of social glue holding society together and is contrasted to mistrust, which is said to be corrosive of social relations and as impeding any kind of social praxis. Not surprisingly, previous research has focused on trust and has highlighted the importance and the role trust plays in the constitution of certain socio-economic formations. This paper, however, will draw on 14 months of fieldwork carried out with a Catalonian Cooperative and recent work on mistrust by Matthew Carey to also highlight the potentially socially generative nature of mistrust. Putting forward the notion of an economy of (mis-)trust, I will analyze the often painstaking labor that went into constructing and subsequently circulating narratives of trust and mistrust in the Cooperative. I will show how mobilizing these affective registers served to perform the Cooperative's alterity vis-a-vis "the system" and was thus foundational for a certain form of social action in the world.