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Virtue, Fortune, and Faith

A Genealogy of Finance

Marieke de Goede

Publication Year: 2005

Less than two centuries ago finance - today viewed as the center of economic necessity and epitome of scientific respectability - stood condemned as disreputable fraud. How this change in status came about, and what it reveals about the nature of finance, is the story told in Virtue, Fortune, and Faith. A unique cultural history of modern financial markets from the early eighteenth century to the present day, the book offers a genealogical reading of the historical insecurities, debates, and controversies that had to be purged from nascent credit practices in order to produce the image of today's coherent and - largely - rational global financial sphere. Marieke de Goede discusses moral, religious, and political transformations that have slowly naturalized the domain of finance. Using a deft integration of feminist and poststructuralist approaches, her book demonstrates that finance - not just its rules of personal engagement, but also its statistics, formulas, instruments, and institutions - is a profoundly cultural and politically contingent practice. When closely examined, the history of finance is one of colonial conquest, sexual imagination, constructions of time, and discourses of legitimate (or illegitimate) profit making. Regardless, this history has had a far-reaching impact on the development of the modern international financial institutions that act as the stewards of the world's economic resources. De Goede explores the political contestations over ideas of time and money; the gendered discourse of credit and credibility; differences among gambling, finance, and speculation; debates over the proper definition of the free market; the meaning of financial crisis; and the morality of speculation. In an era when financial practices are pronounced too specialized for broad-based public, democratic debate, Virtue, Fortune, and Faith questions assumptions about international finance's unchallenged position and effectively exposes its ambiguous scientific authority.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Barrows Lectures


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Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book discusses how modern finance has acquired the reputation of economic necessity and scientific respectability when less than two centuries ago it stood condemned as irreputable gambling and fraud. The United States Magazine and Democratic Review argued that trading in stocks and credit certificates “has opened a road to the possession of great means ...

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Introduction: Money and Representation

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pp. xiii-xxviii

In November 1987 American artist J. S. G. Boggs was ordered to appear before London’s Central Criminal Court (also known as the Old Bailey) to face charges brought against him by the Bank of England under the 1981 Forgery and Counterfeiting Act. Boggs was charged with neither forgery nor counterfeiting but with reproducing British banknotes without consent of the Bank of England. ...

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1. A Genealogy of Finance

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pp. 1-20

In the same week in May/June 2000, two international reports statistically assessing Western societies, including Britain, were published. The first report was published by the United Nation’s children’s fund, UNICEF, and presents a comprehensive study of children’s health, wealth, opportunities, and education in twenty-three industrialized countries ...

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2. Mastering Lady Credit

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pp. 21-46

I have argued that the representation of financial history as a legend, in which the use of shells, the minting of coin, the invention of paper money, and the creation of credit are seen as logical subsequent steps in monetary evolution, abstracts modern financial instruments from their political, and often violent, histories. ...

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3. Finance, Gambling, and Speculation

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pp. 47-86

In April 1998 a Moscow Court declared certain financial instruments in breach of Russian antigambling laws. The court argued that a certain type of derivative, called a “nondeliverable forward contract,” was best viewed as a betting contract as it did not lead to any exchange of underlying assets and was therefore not enforceable under the Russian Civil Code. ...

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4. The Dow Jones Average and the Birth of the Financial Market

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pp. 87-120

In DeLillo’s novel Underworld, this dialogue takes place between a white Italian American from the Bronx and a black American from St. Louis, Missouri. Although both men are in their forties and have well-paid corporate jobs, ...

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5. Regulation and Risk in Contemporary Markets

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pp. 121-144

As I have argued, the political contestations surrounding the boundary between finance and gambling, the morality of speculation, and the meaning of the free market lasted well into the twentieth century. ...

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6. Repoliticizing Financial Practices

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pp. 145-176

The purpose of this final chapter is to discuss how resisting a linear and frictionless history of finance opens up possibilities for political dissent and alternatively imagined financial futures. I have argued that financial practices exist as exclusionary discourses—which, historically and continually, exclude that which is deemed external to the financial domain. ...

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Conclusion: Objectivity and Irony in the Dot-Com Bubble

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pp. 177-184

In the midst of current controversies, triggered by the end of the so-called dot-com boom, the collapse of Enron, and the U.S. analysts scandal, the legitimacy of financial practices is to be rescued again with appeals to objectivity and disinterestedness. ...


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pp. 185-196


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pp. 197-228


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pp. 229-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780816696345
E-ISBN-10: 0816696349
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816644155

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: First edition
Series Title: Barrows Lectures
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OCLC Number: 133164394
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Virtue, Fortune, and Faith

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Finance -- History.
  • Economics -- History.
  • Money -- History.
  • Value -- History.
  • Speculation -- History.
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