Mary Seeger O'Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2018-2019
Soo-Young Kim draws on diverse approaches to economics, epistemology, and the everyday in order to examine the interplay between the economy and the future. She is working on a book about how the future is thought about and acted upon through the frame of the economy, while also developing new research projects on the social life of economic statistics and on education and debt. Soo-Young received her B.A. in Classics from Harvard College (2006), M.A. in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research (2009), and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University (2017). Her research has been supported by fellowships from Mellon/ACLS, the Council for European Studies, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Onassis Foundation, and Fulbright. In 2017-2018 she was a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow at Whitman College, where she taught courses in economic anthropology, nation making and nationalism in Greece, and the anthropology of the future.
How is the future constituted as an object of knowledge, activity, and concern in the present? I take up this question in contemporary Greece, where long-term processes of European integration and more recent experiences of austerity have rendered the economy a principal frame for thinking about and acting on the future. Drawing on thirty months of ethnographic study that took me from economists running macroeconomic models and policy makers devising taxation schemes to families planning household budgets and retirees worrying about their pensions, I show how the diverse ways in which Greeks use the economy to think about and act on the future critically shape their understandings of the economy and experiences of the future in the present. Moreover, in conversation with scholarship on nation making in Greece and on the emergence of the concept of the economy, I offer an account of a nation and an economy fundamentally formed through their relationships with the future.