Introducing an Inquiry into the Social Economies of Greed and Excess



In March 2011, the Society of Economic Anthropology held its Annual Meeting Conference, hosted at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, to discuss the topic: Social Economies of Greed and Excess: Lessons from Recessions Past and Present. Specifically time during the social, economic, and political aftermath of the Great Recession (2007–2009), the articles were chosen to understand “greed” and “excess” as behaviors, ideas, and accusations that have shaped and in turn, been shaped by social processes, across different societies and at different periods in human history. This article (a) contextualizes the conference and the subsequent discussion of greed and excess within the broader narratives of causation and accusation between various actors and groups involved in and affected by the outcomes of differential accumulation and consumption of resources, (b) introduces the various articles raging from archaeology to ethnography and commentaries by noted anthropologists that may potentially inform the larger debate on greed and excess within anthropology, and even generate new directions for collaborative anthropological inquiry into “greed and excess” and the human condition.