Crisis is everywhere: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Congo; in housing markets, money markets, financial systems, state budgets, and sovereign currencies. In Anti-Crisis, Janet Roitman steps back from the cycle of crisis production to ask not just why we declare so many crises but also what sort of analytical work the concept of crisis enables. What, she asks, are the stakes of crisis? Taking responses to the so-called subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 as her case in point, Roitman engages with the work of thinkers ranging from Reinhart Koselleck to Michael Lewis, and from Thomas Hobbes to Robert Shiller. In the process, she questions the bases for claims to crisis and shows how crisis functions as a narrative device, or how the invocation of crisis in contemporary accounts of the financial meltdown enables particular narratives, raising certain questions while foreclosing others.
Janet Roitman is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. She is the author of Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa.
Acknowledgments xi Introduction. What Is at Stake? 1 1. Crisis Demands 15 Judgment Day The Moral Demand The Test 2. Crisis Narratives 41 Bubbles Houses Finance Subjects 3. Crisis: Refrain! 71 Noncrisis Narrations The Crisis that does not Obtain Conclusion: Dreams 91 Notes 97 References 133 Index 153