Call for Papers: Immoral Business? Perspectives on Speculation, Speculators, and Scandalous Profits

11 01 2012

AS: Looks like a pretty interesting conference. I know of a number of business historians with research projects that would lend themselves to papers suitable for this conference.  

Immoral Business? Perspectives on Speculation, Speculators, and Scandalous Profits

International Conference at Leibniz University
25 – 27 January 2013

Conveners: Karl Christian Führer, Kim Christian Priemel and Cornelia Rauh

Scholars are invited to submit proposals for original papers to be presented at an interdisciplinary conference in Hanover, Germany, in January 2013. The conference will explore how economic actions come to
be labelled as “speculation” in different societies and in diverse historical periods. It will specifically address questions such as how speculative trading was and is operated, how states and societies react to the phenomenon of “speculation”, and how the incurred profits or losses are publically assessed.

Speculation thus offers an excellent example to study economy as a historically contingent, socially constructed field of action. Its highly contested character clearly derives from a wide range of social interactions encompassing not only business protagonists (traders, brokers, shareholders, bankers, et al), but also politicians and state
officials engaged in regulatory efforts as well as other stakeholders such as labour representatives, scholars, the lay public, and the media. As such, speculation offers a rich field for interdisciplinary and comparative studies. The conference, we hope, will be joined not only by historians and economists, but also by participants from
Sociology, Anthropology, Theology, Criminology, and Media and Cultural Studies. Both papers on historical cases of speculation and on recent developments are welcome; internationally comparative presentations
are especially encouraged. Participants should be prepared to give a 20 minute presentation at the conference followed by discussion.

Questions to be addressed in the papers may include: Which forms of
“speculation” can be distinguished? Under what circumstances is
speculation regarded as functional or as disruptive both in economic
and in social terms? What are the differences between “speculators”
and “ordinary” economic agents? Do the notions of “greed” and of
“undeserved profits” necessarily form part of debates about
speculation and speculators? Or is speculation only scandalized once
it has failed? Can greed, as Gordon Gecko has it, be good?

In what way are speculation and its protagonists perceived by the general public of his or her time? Is there a public image of “the speculator” and – if so –who shapes that image at different times, in different places, and by what means? Is speculation a topic in high-brow art, the popular arts, and/or the media? Do economic actors conceive of themselves as speculators? Which efforts have public authorities historically made to prevent or check “speculation” and
with what results? Are such policies tied to notions of a “moral economy” meant to control profits and self-interest for the sake of the “common good”?

Please send an abstract of 150 – 200 words of your paper along with a brief CV (one page at the most) to by February 15, 2012. All submissions should be sent as e-mail
attachments (MS Word, Rtf, Pdf). At the moment, reimbursement of travel expanses cannot be guaranteed. However, we are optimistic that funding will be provided. There will be no conference fees.



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