642.3 Beneath the model: From “Developing Nation” to “Emerging Market,” deal by deal

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 9:30 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Leslie SALZINGER , University of California at Berkeley
In recent decades, Mexico has shifted, in tandem with much of the rest of the global south, from a “developing nation” obligated to its national citizenry to an “emerging market” obligated to its transnational investors. Transnational currency markets are one of the sites in which these shifts are being enacted, and in this talk I traces the processes through which complex, masculinized national/transnational subjects are hailed, as well as the impact of their emergent selves on the markets they inhabit. The talk focuses on the alternately frantic and boring daily life of the Latin American currency-trading desk of a major transnational bank I call Globank where these processes become visible. The desk is the physical hub of a set of fiber optic spokes entering all the major Latin American capitals, creating an outpost of “Latin America” in New York. Its referent is not Latin America as it is lived however – embodied, heterogeneous, internally incommensurable – but Latin America as a financial market – composed of disembodied, commensurable units. Recapitulating this process, traders on the desk emerge as hyper-masculine and nationally marked – selves incited and then commodified for market utility. Globank strategists have managed to create a vibrant, marked, highly masculine and “Latin” social universe, organized for an unremarkable goal – profit. The ethnography delineates these processes, thus illustrating how a global assemblage is made and its consequences for both the people who populate it and the world(s) their actions constitute in turn.