Financial Witness: Investing in Rehabilitation in an Actuarial Age

Rosamond, Emily. 2016. 'Financial Witness: Investing in Rehabilitation in an Actuarial Age'. In: MoneyLab #3. Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, Netherlands. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

In 18th century England, a few popular novelists started to imagine that money could ‘watch’ the people who used it. For instance, Thomas Bridges’ Adventures of a Bank Note (1770), features a first-person account of a bank note’s travels from pocket to pocket, overhearing tales and observing its owners. This narrative grapples with the newly international commodity market, and imagines money’s moral purchase
on its owners by giving money its own eyes. In our time, the idea of money watching and judging people seems all the more relevant. Complex financial products allow investors to speculate on investees’ rehabituation, and in doing so, embed investors’ perspectives on subjects into social welfare programs in complex ways. This is particularly relevant for the emerging field of social impact investing. The social impact bonds (SIB) market, which began in 2010, encourages investors to back privately operated social service schemes, which aim to improve specific social impact metrics. If the desired social impact outcome is achieved, governments pay investors at a fixed rate of return. This market capitalizes on rehabituation, allowing investors to profit by modulating the beliefs and behaviors of vulnerable populations. How does social impact investing change the way ‘social impact’ works and what are the implications of these shifts for socially engaged art practices? A sufficient analysis of these shifts must involve a narrative analysis of the ways in which social impact investment embeds investors’ perspectives onto people’s habits, producing investment-images of investees. An age of financial surveillance requires a politics of the investment-image for contemporary art.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


2 December 2016Completed

Event Location:

Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Date Deposited:

17 Oct 2017 14:50

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:40


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