Interdisciplinary Conference on Metaphors of Money, University of Virginia, October 31st 2009

13 06 2009

“Before Liquidity, Beyond the Crash.” University of Virginia, October 31, 2009.

“In fact, we are all builders and purveyors of unrealistic simplifications. Some of us are self-aware: we use our models as metaphors. Others, including people who are indisputably brilliant and seemingly sophisticated, are sleep-walkers: they unconsciously use metaphors as models” — Paul Krugman, 1992 Ohlin Lectures

“In order to signify the metaphorical process, the paradigms of money, silver and gold are imposed with remarkable insistence.” — Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy

The current financial crisis has generated much concern and anxiety in academia and with the public at large about the viability and future of capitalism. But whether financial crises lead us to re-think our approaches to and ideas about money and the economy, whether they initiate a shift in paradigms or simply reinforce the models and the metaphorical language that inform previous understandings, remains an open question.

“Before Liquidity, Beyond the Crash” is a one-day conference on current conceptions of money, to be held at the University of Virginia on Saturday, October 31st, 2009. We see the recent burst of the financial “bubble” as an opportunity to question the language of liquidity and flows employed in our basic models and metaphors for money. The keynote speakers for the conference will be Franco Moretti, literary critic (Stanford), and Philip Mirowski, philosopher of economic thought (Notre Dame).

We are looking for papers that attend to the “coinage” of new metaphors and the ways in which a metaphor for money may be worn smooth and unremarkable by use. Presentations may range through history and across disciplines and address any or all of the following questions:

• What do metaphors of money based on liquidity and flow obscure?

• What alternative metaphors for money are on offer?

• What does genealogical work tell us about our current predicament?

• What has money become a metaphor of?

• What was the metaphor of money as liquidity supposed to achieve?

We seek contributions from Anthropology, Economics, English, History, Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science and related fields and will favor proposals that appeal to a multidisciplinary audience. The efficacy of interdisciplinary analysis lies in an emphasis on intellectual history and rhetoric.

Please send an abstract to Brad Pasanek, English ( and Simone Polillo, Sociology (, by July 15th, 2009. We will notify you shortly thereafter of the status of your submission. Final papers should be no longer than 15-20 pages, and presentations no longer than 15-20 minutes.

PDF version of the CFP here: Metaphors of Money and project website here.




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