Best practices: Research, finance, and NGOs in Cairo

Authors

  • JULIA ELYACHAR

    1. International Center for Advanced Studies, Juan Carlos Center, New York University, New York, NY 10012 Je28@nyu.edu
    2. Institute for Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Centre for Scientific Research, Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts, Novi Trg 2, 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia jem@zrc-sazu.si
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Abstract

In this article, I examine how artifacts of social-science research were incorporated into survival strategies of poor residents of the global South in the 1990s under neoliberalism. I draw on ethnographic research in Cairo among bankers, borrowers, and nongovernmental-organization (NGO) members to engage recent debates in anthropology about finance and knowledge practices. I argue that the incorporation of “best practices” and microenterprise lending into banking in Egypt helped create a new kind of “multiplier effect” related to the one made famous by John Maynard Keynes in economics and to the conviction among some Egyptians that research artifacts held the key to improvement of their life chances.

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