Greed and excess to be examined at Notre Dame economic anthropology conference

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Society for Economic Anthropology

Greed and excess repeatedly have been blamed for the global recession and economic collapse of 2008-09. From investment bankers and mortgage brokers to credit-poor consumers wanting instant gratification, predatory and excessive behaviors fueled economic downturns.

Historic evidence also points to excess and greed hastening the demise of other ancient societies where elites accumulate wealth at the expense of the larger populace.

The University of Notre Dame will host the 2011 conference of the Society for Economic Anthropology March 10 to 12 (Thursday to Saturday), where scholars from archeology, history, cultural anthropology and economics will explore several views of greed and excess, and examine how different societies tolerated or controlled these behaviors. All presentations will be held in McKenna Hall on the Notre Dame campus.

James Surowiecki

“The goal of the conference is to contextualize the interface between greed and excess and the growth of modern institutions in our own society and allow us to draw parallels or dissimilarities in these behaviors across cultures and throughout history,” says Rahul Oka, Notre Dame economic anthropologist and co-chair of the conference.

Keynote speaker for the conference is James Surowiecki, business columnist for The New Yorker magazine and author of “The Wisdom of Crowds – Why the Many are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.”

Conference topics to be explored include interactions among power groups in societies; attitudes toward consumption, regulation and accumulation of capital; and the enforcement of restraints.

Contact: Rahul Oka, Department of Anthropology, 574-631-1372,