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Occupy Wall Street and the Economic Imagination

By Hannah Appel

Cite As:
Appel, Hannah. 2014. “Occupy Wall Street and the Economic Imagination.” Cultural Anthropology 29, no. 4: 602–625.


This article explores the making of an expansive and expanding economic imagination in disparate Occupy sites—the Alternative Banking working group of Occupy Wall Street, the daily life of lists in Liberty Square, née Zuccotti Park, and the work of Strike Debt. In particular, I focus on transformative possibility in unanticipated places. Where anthropology and critical theory have often sought out capitalism’s otherwises for inspiration and potential, the expansion of the economic imagination I trace here suggests that the centers constitute zones of possibility as well. I aim to show not only the conditions of possibility for a certain kind of imaginative work in the dense and seemingly definitive spaces of financial expertise but also a remarkable, and largely unrecognized, contemporary conversation around the future of banking, foreclosures, and democratized finance.


Occupy Wall Street; finance; social movements; capitalism