[In anticipation of releasing the second Pedagogy JadMag, MESPI is giving readers a sneak-peek into one of the feature interviews. Jacob Bessen interviewed Julia Elyachar on her studies and teaching experiences.]
Jacob Bessen: Across your publications, you contend with and challenge economic assumptions and supposedly universal market logics. Thinking without presuming the market is one thing, teaching others to think without the market is another. How do you teach students to think about the market in a context vitally invested in its naturalization and invisibility?
Julia Elyachar: I do not have to teach students how to think without the free market. Their own experiences have taught them. The “invisible hand” was a cosmology more than a concept, as I put it in my book Markets of Dispossession back in 2005. The same is true of the free market, which was always a mythical construction. Letting go of such mythology has entailed, for a lot of my students, letting go of the American dream and American exceptionalism as well. This can happen in the classroom, or it can happen after a big historical event like the 2008 financial crisis. In the aftermath of this financial crisis, structural adjustment policies came back to the United States from the Global South. By 2010, there were mass revolts against the systemic theft of public resources and collective goods under market fundamentalism in the Middle East; they soon spread around the world.
All of this shows up in the classroom. It is showing up in the classroom again now in 2021, after a year characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic, revolts against white supremacy and anti-Black violence, and resulting disruptions of students’ lives and plans. By 2021, attachment to any ideology of the free market as natural seems truly gone.
I have taught interdisciplinary classes on debt, finance, and economic anthropology for 20 years. At the University of California at Irvine (UCI), where I began teaching in 2007, there is a long history of interdisciplinary social sciences. Because of this, my economic anthropology classes were cross-listed with the Department of Economics, and I had a courtesy appointment in that department. Economics students there read texts from anthropology on “the gift” that emphasized the value of building relationships through giving things away. All of this made lots of sense to students. It was simply good market practice. Social networks and laying channels of data mining and “thinking infrastructures,” as my co-authors and I described in the name of our recently edited volume, had already begun.
After the 2008 financial crisis, there were suddenly 200 students in the classroom, more of whom studied economics or business economics than anthropology. Students’ futures and prospects were devastated and they knew it. Working-class and first-generation students, the latter of whom constitute more than 50 percent of UCI’s graduating class year-in, year-out began to study economics or business economics to improve their job prospects. They started applying for jobs in finance not because they believed in the invisible powers of finance. They wanted jobs that could secure them a future with social mobility. We took time in class for students to share stories of how they got access to interviews, internships, and jobs—all of which had become so difficult to find.
They had to contend with structural inequalities in recruiting practices as well. Investment banking firms only recruited from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) or the University of California at Berkeley. One of my UCI students recounted how she snuck through the kitchen entrance of a UCLA building to infiltrate recruitment events for jobs in investment banking rather than accounting. Another student shared his experience making 100 cold calls for a job interview with a crowd of eager and appreciative colleagues who were amazed to learn that he had in fact landed a job.
Many students experienced 2008 as an aberration. It was a temporary crisis. Things would get better in a year or two, they assumed. There was a “normal” to return to. That said, students who read my writing from the period about development programs in Egypt that pushed microenterprise or the informal economy as a solution for a generation abandoned by structural adjustment programs saw themselves in those accounts. And they were right: such programs then were about to migrate back to the United States, as funding for public goods and public universities in the United States was soon cut back.
I moved to Princeton University in 2017. My appointment is in the Department of Anthropology and also in the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. I often teach courses in anthropology that include works in the history of economic or political thought. I always draw on materials from the Middle East and North Africa region even though I have not taught in a program of Near or Middle Eastern Studies since my postdoc at NYU’s Kevorkian Center.
At Princeton, I sometimes teach a lecture course called quite simply “Debt.” In fall 2020, I taught a class called “Alternative Economies: Before (and after) Growth” together with Tomaž Mastnak, a historian of political thought. Our students came from a range of majors, from economics, anthropology, classics, pre-med, chemistry, and various branches of engineering. Everyone was motivated by the question of growth, how it began, when the imperative of growth became “invisible,” and how we could imagine alternative futures by reading sometimes obscure texts showing foreclosed political and intellectual possibilities of the past. When teaching anthropology majors, however, the challenge is different. They are critical of “the market,” and the challenge is to complicate sometimes-simplistic notions of economics or market economies.
JB: You begin your first monograph (Markets of dispossession: NGOs, economic development, and the state in Cairo. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.) by framing NGO projects to craft neoliberal subjects in Cairo against economic initiatives in different locales, while noting, with justifiable frustration, that the “economic anthropology of the Middle East barely exists” (22). As someone who does not teach in an area studies-focused department, how do you situate the growing economic anthropology of the Middle East within the wider body of economic ethnography?
JE: I wasn’t frustrated about the state of economic anthropology of the Middle East so much as baffled and intrigued. I wondered: how did such a crucial part of life get written out of the anthropology of a region? Economic anthropology of the Middle East has expanded for a number of reasons. First is the work of an amazing generation of new scholars. At the same time, there is now a much broader view of what an anthropology of the economic entails—this is no less true in research from and on the Middle East. And economic anthropology as a subfield changed in the process as well.
I can see this over the course of my own development. When I started college at Barnard, I was training and performing as a dancer and was majoring in women’s studies. I was interested in neither economics nor anthropology. I dropped out after two years, left performing, worked full-time as a waitress, and was involved in various political and community initiatives. I learned Spanish at a community school run by Nicaraguan exiles; read Marx’s Das Capital for the first time with sociologist Mary Boger at the New York Marxist School (later the Brecht Forum); sat in on Anwar Shaikh’s classes on Marx at the New School; and read Samir Amin, Maxime Rodinson, and Ibrahim Abu-Lughod as well as writings from my great-uncle Eli Eliashar on Zionism and on the Middle East. A friend then told me about a political economy track in the Department of Economics at Barnard.
I returned to college at Barnard, became an economics major, and worked with Duncan Foley, who was an extraordinary teacher and mentor, along with other heterodox economists like Alice Amsden and Bettina Berch. Students in this track also did a standard undergraduate economics curriculum. I thought of going on to a PhD in economics, but political scientist Jeffrey Frieden, who was finishing his PhD at Columbia then, advised me to work at a bank first if I was interested in debt. I followed his advice and got a job at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, an experience I wrote about in Valuation Studies in 2013. From there I went to Israel/Palestine and stayed for four years to work on other things.
I read anthropology for the first time when I entered the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. I had applied to Harvard’s joint PhD in economics and Middle Eastern Studies. Tosun Aricanli, who reviewed the applications for the joint program, shifted me into the pile for the MA in Middle East Studies. Heterodox economist friends discouraged me from trying again for economics and urged me to shift disciplines. I came across “Anthropology of Development” in the catalogue (then a physical book), talked my way into the proseminar of anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis, and was admitted to Harvard’s joint PhD program in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies that spring, and began studying anthropology for the first time.
It was an exciting moment in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. Cemal Kafadar and Zachary Lockman had just arrived as assistant professors in the Department of History and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES). CMES sponsored a conference my first year at Harvard on comparative Ottoman, Safavid, and Moghul Empires.
The conference was organized by Harvard’s Tosun Aricanli together with Ashraf Ghani and Talal Asad, who were both then in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. The organizers were trying to identify and develop social science concepts of Empires within the logics of their own systems—without resorting to terms like “Gunpowder Empires” or focusing on the “why not questions” of the time: why didn’t the Middle East develop, become capitalist, become bourgeois, etc. Those were important (still largely unpublished) discussions that were way ahead of their time.
Aricanli taught a small seminar in which we worked in the British Foreign Office archives at Widener Library, on the Ottoman Public Debt Administration. I wrote a long MA thesis based on my archival research in what today I would call historical anthropology of the Public Debt Administration, although I did not have that language at the time. I took classes in Ottoman history and read a great deal more on my own. I thought of doing fieldwork in Turkey.
In the end, I did a summer Arabic language program at Middlebury College and then went to Cairo for the full-year advanced Arabic program at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad at the American University in Cairo. There, together with language training, advanced students also took Arabic-language courses on Arabic and Egyptian literature, Islamic philosophy, and Egyptian history. We read a lot of Palestinian and Egyptian literature and watched a great deal of film and theatre.
There, I wrote my first research papers in Arabic. I began to ask: why were novels, poetry, and film so much better than social science (in Arabic as well as English and French) at portraying the vast changes in Egypt after the infitah, for example? Or in Palestine? Or in Saudi Arabia? Many of my ongoing research questions in economic anthropology evolved from there.
By the time I went to graduate school in the 1990s, economic anthropology had become a marginal subfield after its heyday in the 1950s and 60s. I loved explaining to students that debates over economic anthropology once drew hundreds of people to lectures at Columbia University. They learned about how Karl Polanyi carried conversations from the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire about rationality and irrationality (which were important for Max Weber and the first neo-liberals as well) into the discipline of economic anthropology and early neoliberal economic theory. That has informed a lot of my writing about neoliberalism, including my 2019 piece “Neoliberalism and the Savage Slot: Rationality, Irrationality, and Calculating Value 1920–2020.”
After I finished my Ph.D. I moved with my partner and young son to Ljubljana, Slovenia, with no thought or prospect of returning to work in the United States. That plan changed when I was offered a postdoc at the Kevorkian Center at New York University (NYU), then directed by Timothy Mitchell. The encounter with Mitchell was wonderful in so many ways. At NYU I started thinking about my dissertation in terms of markets, something I had previously resisted. Mitchell had invited the French sociologist Michel Callon to be in residence and suggested I read Callon’s edited volume The Laws of the Markets. Initially, I really disliked his introduction, now considered a classic. I was a firm “substantivist” in Polanyi’s terms and was suspicious of work that focused on “markets” as opposed to “economy.”
After Callon arrived, I invited him to lunch at the Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelia Street (for those who know downtown Manhattan), which was then a tiny place where a few people sat elbow to elbow at a bar. When we arrived, I was startled to realize that the papers Callon had carried in his hand to lunch were marked-up chapters of my dissertation. I had emailed Callon three chapters at his request, with no expectation that he would actually read them. But over lunch, Callon proceeded to read back my project to me in terms I had never considered. It was an amazing experience and completely changed the way I wrote the last draft of Markets of Dispossession. I often tell this story to students, laughing at myself. It is not the only time, I tell them, that work I first hated ended up having a huge influence on my writing.
After that lunch, I spoke with Callon a number of times about economic anthropology (Janet Roitman was also part of those conversations), including the famous formalist-substantivist debate. Callon went on to draft, together with Koray Çaliskan, what became two important articles on “economization,” a term from that old debate in economic anthropology that became the title of their two-part article. This was at the same period when feminist geographers J. K. Gibson-Graham were exploding divisions between markets and the gift, building on their earlier work that had critiqued constant use of the concept “capitalism” because of how it reinforced the reality of capitalism itself.
All this work loosened the lines between economic anthropology, political economy, and feminist geography. I tell this long story here because of the less than obvious ways in which the Middle East and Middle East Studies—thanks in no small part to Mitchell’s curating of all kinds of boundary-crossing conversations—played an indirect part in this opening up of economic anthropology. Inversely, as soon as you start thinking about economic anthropology from the Middle East, different issues come into view than those generated by fieldwork in, say, Melanesia, where theorization in value theory and economic anthropology have long been centered.
Teaching at Kevorkian was great. I taught classes in economic anthropology and on the anthropology of property and markets in the Middle East to an interdisciplinary group of students, including Ph.D. students from Columbia and the City University of New York. My article “Empowerment Money” had come out in Public Culture in 2002 and was taught by some scholars who sent their students to me. I always taught literature together with theory and ethnography. For example, I would teach Abdelrahman Munif’s Cities of Salt and The Trench (those who read Arabic read the Arabic and the others read English) as well as Theodore Dreiser’s nineteenth-century novel The Financier.
At the time, I was also deeply influenced by reading more in the history of political thought—in particular, the work of István Hont and J. G. A. Pocock. Hont and Pocock gave me tools with which to read and think about economic phenomena in ethnographic terms. This approach has deeply influenced my work since Markets of Dispossession, and it has helped me learn to situate concepts in their historical moment. It took me a long time to figure out how to bring these things together, but from the start, it helped me find a language to write with, including the eighteenth-century “native concept” of commercial society, which dates before the rise of political economy.
Finally, and also outside of the tradition of economic anthropology proper, I had tried reading semiotics and the work of Charles Peirce since I was a graduate student, but I could not really make sense of it. I read Nancy Munn’s The Fame of Gawa right before I left for dissertation fieldwork, and the book was profoundly confusing to me. Her discussion of value was both familiar and strange. I read it over and over, trying to understand. Just like when I was a student in Cairo, I remained obsessed with the issue of why some of the most important issues of political economy writ large were discussed in terms of “culture” or “history” that was external to theory.
JB: In 2012, you co-edited a Hot Spots series on the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s website with Jessica Winegar and in your own text highlighted the difficulties of teaching and knowledge production in the midst of a revolution, emphasizing the remarkable symmetries of these challenges between Cairo and New York, Athens and the University of California at Davis. What thoughts do you have about teaching across global symmetries in 2020?
JE: Maybe I will be able to answer this question better after I teach my spring semester class at Princeton called “Revolt.” I will be teaching it with material from the Middle East together with materials from Occupy Wall Street, and also with the book by my colleague Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.
But for sure, it is a lot clearer than it was in 2012 that this is one global process. Around 2011, discussions in academia about financial crisis went on in completely different contexts from discussions about uprisings in the Middle East. For me personally, since I wrote and taught about both, it was a really strange experience to have these parallel conversations taking place as if in different worlds. But how to make the links visible?
It started to come together for me while writing a keynote address I gave at the American Ethnological Society in 2015, although I don’t know how much sense it made when I delivered it to the audience. I had been reading the blogpost of the Syrian artist and poet Alisar Iram, “We are the saddest people; we are the tragic people—A poem for Syria.”
She began with words from “Burial of the Dead,” by T. S. Eliot, written after the disasters of World War I: “Son of man / You cannot say, or guess, for you know only / A heap of broken images . . . I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” One of her images was of Khan al-Jumruk, which I learned was the home of the “Factory of the English Nation in Aleppo.” This phrasing brought together categories that I was used to thinking of completely separately into one place. It made me literally jump in my chair. The basic institution of the industrial revolution, the factory, was the home of the “English Nation” cum the Levant Company and was bombed in 2013. I tried to unpack some of this the last time I was lucky enough to publish in JadMag, in my article “A Few Things Wrong with Political Economy of the Middle East.”
But for now, I will take your question sideways, drawing on some remarks I presented when invited back to the Kevorkian Center with my brilliant colleagues Brenna Bhandar and Sherene Seikaly in November 2020. We were invited to talk about dispossession and global revolt. That event was really a moment of coming full circle for me.
My first day of work at Kevorkian was right after September 11, 2001. Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City then. The firehouse around the corner where our two-year-old son loved to climb up on the firetrucks with firemen who later died at the World Trade Center became Giuliani’s staging grounds for what was to follow. We went to demonstrations in Washington Square for that attack, that war, that year, and in other places in the years before and the years after. The War on Terror was about to begin. Now, that legislation—built in part on legal precedent from the Ottoman capitulations, as I explain in my new piece in Public Books, “From Versailles to the War on Terror”—is being imported back for explicit incorporation into domestic US law.
In 2011, I spoke and wrote, as did other colleagues, about the 2011 revolts in terms of revolts against neoliberalism. In 2005, I had written in Markets of Dispossession about primitive accumulation and the endless expansion of the fundamentalist free market, and the way that it would lead to implosion. But by 2020, that framework seemed insufficient. Here, teachings in the history of thought help me once again. It is not enough to say that primitive accumulation or neoliberalism leads to revolt or to see how they are articulated with white supremacy. Rather, I am interested in how accumulation itself has been theorized as a scourge.
I take the phrase “accumulation as a scourge” from James Maitland, eighth Earl of Lauderdale (1759–1839). The keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland and a representative peer for Scotland in the House of Lords, he was called revolutionary in his times because he was sympathetic to the goals of the French Revolution. Lauderdale gives us a way to remember that endless accumulation was not always a given, not even in the history—or histories—of political economy. And thus that it is not a given in worlds to come, either.
He published a book in 1804 with the title An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth: And into the Means and Causes of Its Increase. In it, Lauderdale uses the term “the wealth of nations” from Adam Smith. He invokes the phrase to strike it down and to shift focus to what he calls “public wealth.” He also brings in a concept that is really important today: “public economy.” Here he brings in a one of the central terms of the French Revolution—the public—and joins it together with the notion of wealth or goods.
Obviously, that public of the French Revolution is a troubled one. Your readership knows this part of the story better than I, and I learn from the North Africa page in Jadaliyya all the time. But for now, I want to note that Lauderdale was a republican—not in the sense of Trump or of the Republican Party but in the sense of working for what this Scotsman considered the common good, what we have in common. The public needs a public economy, not an individualist economy. Public economy is an economy that serves the public good—a revolutionary idea from the French Revolution, which of course must be decolonized as well.
Having money does not mean having wealth, Lauderdale notes. He sets out the difference, and indeed the contradiction, between an increase of public wealth on the one hand and of individual riches on the other. This is what some call the Lauderdale paradox: private riches and public wealth are in inverse correlation. Lauderdale also introduced a distinction between what he calls “exchangeable value” and “use value” that would become important in Marx. Lauderdale is marginal to the history of political economy. But he has been coming back through debates on ecological economics and the growing movement for “degrowth” in activist and academic circles.
Political economy is not fixed. It can be seen rather as an arena—an arena of ideas that were open and hotly contested before the canon was fixed. The history of economic thought contains voices and views of which too little is known. Many of those voices disappeared from view in the canon of political economy—even those writing in England, Scotland, and France.
Those battles shaped the terms on which originary accumulation was formed. They should be part of our thinking about dispossession today. In Markets of Dispossession I wrote about dispossession of cultural resources of poor people and their financialization as a kind of extraction. Today the very grounds of accumulation have literally come undone.
Debates in the early history of political economy about accumulation and growth also laid the groundwork for theories of colonization. Colonization, as they called it, was supposed to be a solution to the dilemmas of what David Ricardo feared as the impending “stationary state.” The stationary state would emerge when, inevitably, less “productive” land on the British Isles would be brought under cultivation and rent produced. The imperative of accumulation is linked directly to colonization. Such links are becoming clearer in a growing body of work that aims to decolonize economics.
JB: In your 2015 entry on Rethinking the Anthropology of Neoliberalism in the Middle East, you write of the War in Iraq, “if this was neoliberalism, it was a neoliberalism more openly linked to violence. (2015: 412)” How do you frame the relationship between economic and open violence in the Middle East?
JE: The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was framed as a military invasion to institute a free market. This neoconservative agenda seemed to contradict neoliberal ideology, which relies more on the cultivation of the self. Destroying the institutions of a state and using direct violence to instill a neoliberal free-market seemed an anomaly (as opposed to slower or originary violence of primitive accumulation). It turned out to be anything but an anomaly, as Naomi Klein’s now-famous formulation of disaster capitalism made clear.
In that 2015 essay you refer to, I trace entanglements of neoliberalism with violence back to what Jairus Banaji recently analyzed as commercial capitalism. The Ottoman Empire kept at bay the direct violence of commercial capitalism in the eighteenth century. The Levant Company, as opposed to the East India Company or the Royal African Company, was enmeshed in commercial arrangements in international private law, as I discuss in that 2021 essay in Public Books.
The so-called primitive was the imagined domain for a realm of behavior that anthropologists like Bronisław Malinowski argued was “rational” and even “economic,” in monographs that became the first texts of economic anthropology. “Civilized society” was an attribute of Christendom and society organized around the imperative of commerce—commercial society, in the language of the time. The Ottoman Empire was the paradigm of the so-called “semicivilized,” as legal scholars such as Umut Özsu have shown.
Unlike the so-called primitive, the “semicivilized” were deemed to have the potential to become civilized—on the condition of being reformed, revised, educated, and instilled with different institutions of the post-World War I Mandate system in which the former territories of the Ottoman Empire were “administered” by Great Britain and France. That future never came, as Sherene Seikaly beautifully shows in her essay “The Matter of Time.” Those confined to the waiting room of history were condemned to endless intervention and invasion. As a result, the inherent violence of commercial capitalism is now fully on view, with the Middle East a paradigm rather than an exception.
JB: Your recent work has focused on a semiotically informed reframing of infrastructure as a way to think through social relations and movements. What do you think infrastructure offers pedagogically to Middle East studies?
JE: I started working on infrastructure in my MA on the Ottoman Debt Administration. All these years later, I am finally now publishing some of that research on infrastructure, military engineers, and debt based on that research in the British Foreign Archives. Infrastructure was always part of my thinking in the background, since my training and thinking was influenced by volume 2 of Marx’s Capital. But I returned to writing explicitly about infrastructure in two papers I published in 2010 and 2011, which develop concepts of phatic labor, social infrastructure, communicative channels, and semiotic commons. I continued working on these themes through my 2019 co-edited volume Thinking Infrastructures.
I turned to semiotics because I found myself stuck when writing up some ethnographic material that I could not find my way through. As much as I love theory, my motivations for seeking out new analytic frameworks are almost always ethnographic.
Back in graduate school, I first tried reading the work of Charles Peirce as a way to bring culture together with value theory and Marx. But once again I did not have the tools to understand it. Years later, I encountered an article by Paul Kockelman called “A Semiotic Ontology of the Commodity,” which did that work ethnographically and theoretically. I wrote to Kockelman to express my thanks. It turned out he was reading Markets of Dispossession, and we started a long conversation that was very influential for my work on social infrastructures, gesture, and embodied commons.
Infrastructure has been a really generative concept for work on and from the Middle East. Infrastructure building, and the maintenance of channels of commerce were crucial in locations where the colonization of territory was not central. Infrastructure is a capacious concept that allows scholars to move outside of the confines of established ways of thinking about political economy or theory of value. It also allowed many scholars to enter into a reconstituted economic anthropology of the Middle East. In Sinews of War and Trade, Laleh Khalili makes clear how much thinking about infrastructure in the Middle East is relevant for anyone thinking about global power and capitalism anywhere.
JB: How does your training and professional experience in dance and improvisation influence your teaching? More generally, how might creative arts help us generate critical perspectives on finance and economy?
JE: I trained as a dancer from a young age, performing in small companies in New York City from age twelve through my early twenties. I worked also in contact improvisation and in groups that emphasized collective methods for making material. I was never a real professional. But that training and performance experience shaped everything I did after.
In performance, you need to know how to react to the unplanned and unexpected. That training is really helpful when doing urban ethnography, especially on the street and in public spaces where things move fast and decisions have to be made quickly. Such training is even more important when ethnographers work in a team and triadic, rather than dyadic, relations with “the field” are at play. I wrote about this in relation to my collaboration with Essam Fawzi in Markets of Dispossession.
Movement training is also helpful in teaching for many reasons. Foremost is a sense of process in creative work and of the importance of instinct and intuition in intellectual pursuits as well. As for finance, it definitely has some things in common with dance: it is all about flows and movement along channels, and it entails attunement to signals that are rarely rendered explicit.
My background in dance and a lifetime of recovery from injury since I was young and then in the years of health challenges after led me to other areas of knowledge related to movement that come directly into my writing of late. Here I have been thinking a lot about proprioception—the sense of the bodily self, of where our body is in space, and how we move in relation to other people or objects. Proprioception is often cultivated in physical therapy to increase capacities of balance standing on the ground after injury or with aging. I find this concept really useful to think with these days.
Past decades have seen a politics of “resist everywhere” that has led to some dead ends. I relate this in part to the assumption of a stable inert and external “ground.” Resist everywhere has unsettling relations to the long ideology of productive labor as a moral virtue and of extractivism. But how do we resist on the ground that is constantly shifting? In times of broken ground, it is fruitless to resist: pushing with the body’s force only leads to injury, intensification of problematic patterns, or worse. It is a time in which to develop capacities for movement on shifting grounds, for cultivating proprioception, the sense of where the body is in space, in relation to different parts, and also to others and to unsettled grounds.
 A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism, Haymarket Books, 2020.
 Umut Özsu, “The Ottoman Empire, The Origins of Extraterritoriality, and International Legal Theory,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law, eds. Anne Orford and Florian Hoffmann, with Martin Clark (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 123–37.
 Sherene Seikaly, “The Matter of Time,” (either the open access Public Books version: https://www.publicbooks.org/the-matter-of-time/ or The American Historical Review Volume 124, Issue 5, December 2019, 1681-1688.
 Paul Kockelman, “A Semiotic Ontology of the Commodity,” Linguistic Anthropology 16 (2008): 76–102.
 Laleh Khalili, Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula, Verso, 2020.