Golden Credit: Pawning Gold Assets in Gendered (Productive-Reproductive-Financial) Economies

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Adrienne ROBERTS, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
There has been growing interest among scholars about the ways in which relations of production traditionally associated with ‘the formal economy’ are integrally connected to relations of ‘social reproduction’, which range from domestic labour to welfare state provisioning. I argue here that there is a need to further connect production and social reproduction to a third set of social relations: the social relations of finance. Drawing on the work of Spike Peterson, Diane Elson and others, I suggest that a feminist analytical framework that considers the intersections of production, social reproduction and finance historically and in the present era of ‘financialization’ is needed to fully capture the complex totality of gendered, classes and racialized social relations that constitute the (global) political economy. Using this framework, I go on to explore two examples of credit provisioning that serve to (1) elucidate the links between these three spheres of activity and (2) show how they work to reproduce inequitable gender relations. The first example focuses on the active engagement of women in pawnbroking in early modern England while the second example focuses on a recent trend whereby women in Pakistan are using their gold jewelry as collateral for microcredit. In both instances, the provisioning of credit is part of the attempt of women to support social reproduction in the context of limited alternatives in the ‘productive’ economy and weak state support. In the former case, an historical analysis reveals the gradual recasting of pawnbroking and other forms of household credit as ‘informal’, ‘feminized’, and not ‘valuable’ in the context of a formalizing global financial system. The latter case exemplifies how such forms of household credit are once again becoming important sites of accumulation as financial capital has immersed itself in reproductive economies in order to appropriate household earnings and highly gendered assets.