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Futures that money can buy: how finance aims to change the world – or not?

Money, or finance, is at the centre of society's efforts to reach 'net zero', to decarbonise the economy and mitigate and adapt to climate change. Never has money had such a big job to do! However, there is very little critical work on how finance will do this, and what sort of society will be created, despite a rich history of exploring the culture of money in the social sciences and humanities.

Beginning from climate change governance, we will explore how money has come to dominate theories of social change, what the consequences might be, and how historical and interdisciplinary research might help us achieve futures of living well.

This lecture is part of the “Thinking the Future of Money in the Humanities” networking project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


Professor Sarah Bracking

Professor Sarah Bracking is a political economist who researches a range of issues in international development and financial geography. Historically this has included corruption and development, illicit financial flows and the offshore economy, poverty reduction, migrant remittances, and democratisation.

A constant in this research has been the study of money and finance, beginning with development finance and, since 2011, with the emerging climate finance architecture. Her last book explored the financialisation of the current global economy, the last financial crash of 2008 and how this has affected and changed structure of power and political economy, with a particular focus on southern Africa.

It also explored the roles of financial innovations and calculative technologies at emerging new frontiers of financialisation including in human and more-than-human relations and ecology.

Sarah is currently researching climate and development finance, climate insurance and the coproduction of finance and power in market structures. She is editor of Corruption and Development (Palgrave, 2007); author of Money and Power (Pluto, 2009) and The Financialisation of Power: How Financiers Rule Africa (Routledge, 2016); and co-editor with Sian Sullivan, Philip Woodhouse, and Aurora Fredrikson of Valuing Development, Environment and Conservation: Creating Values that Matter (Routledge, 2019).

Professor Sarah Bracking's Staff Profile

Thinking the Future of Money in the Humanities

Thinking of the Future of Money in the Humanities is a networking project that not only aims to explore how money is interpreted, imagined and narrated, but also to use the arts and humanities to envision alternative approaches to money that meet present challenges.

Within the broad field of the “future of money”, the network will focus on two core themes, identified from our initial series of exploratory workshops as particularly urgent and pertinent, and also connecting to existing research in theology and religion:

  • the future of cash and cashlessness,
  • money in the environmental emergency.

On each theme, the network will bring together researchers who can offer historical and cross-cultural perspectives with researchers whose focus is more explicitly on charting the future of money.

Thinking the Future of Money in the Humanities