Playing the stock exchange: risk-taking and witchcraft on Wall Street

Marco Aime

Playing the stock exchange: risk-taking and witchcraft on Wall Street

may sat 28, 2016 - 6.30 p.m.
piazza del Duomo
 admission euro 3.00

Why do we use the expression playing the stock exchange? A reflection - perhaps a touch ironic but not overly so - on the surprising analogies between the world of finance, which now pervades our economic model and conditions our imagination, play and the belief in witchcraft held by populations we often (mistakenly) classify as primitive. In all cases, this game involves confronting forces the individual involved cannot control, often thinking of obtaining a big advantage by using different tools to those we normally use and can control. What drives us to act in such an irrational way? To frequent Wall Street and the NASDAQ you need the same kind of blind faith as those who go to sorcerers. Not to mention the analogies between “playing the markets” and gambling, something unfortunately on the rise in contemporary society: the thrill of the risk and the hope for that life-changing lucky strike often lead to uncontrollable and unexpected choices. 

Marco Aime is professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Genoa. He has conducted research on the Alps and in West Africa. Aime has authored a number of books: Le radici nella sabbia (EDT, 1999); Il primo libro di antropologia (2008), Il dono al tempo di Internet (with A. Cossetta, 2010), L’altro e l’altrove (with D. Papotti 2012), Contro il razzismo (with G. Barbujani, C. Bartoli, F. Faloppa, 2016) published by Einaudi; Verdi tribù del Nord (Laterza, 2012); Gli specchi di Gulliver (2006), Timbuctu (2008), Il diverso come icona del male (with E. Severino, 2009), Gli uccelli della solitudine (2010), Cultura (2013) published by Bollati Boringhieri; All’Avogadro si cominciava a ottobre (Agenzia X, 2014); La macchia della razza (2012), Etnografia del quotidiano (2014) published by elèuthera; La fatica di diventare grandi. La scomparsa dei riti di passaggio (Einaudi, 2014); Tra i castagni dell'Appennino (2014), Senza sponda (2015) published by Utet.