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Kimberly Chong

Kimberly Chong

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8630

Email: kimberly.chong@ucl.ac.uk

Room: 124

Teaching Fellow in Social Anthropology

PhD Anthropology, LSE (2012)
MRes Anthropology, LSE (2007)
MSc, Social Anthropology, LSE (2006)
BA, Economics and Sociology, University of Cambridge (2004)

Kimberly is an economic anthropologist with a regional specialism of contemporary China. To date Kimberly has worked on two research projects which, in different ways, examine the expertise of market intermediaries and the social and economic transformations their work engenders. Both of these projects shed light on the complicated relationship between Western experts and China’s economic development.

The first project looks at the work of management consultants in China’s state capitalist economy. Based on 16 months ethnographic fieldwork inside the China arm of an American management consultancy whose clients include Chinese state-owned enterprises, the research seeks to develop an anthropology of financialization. Financialization is a term often used to denote the ascendancy of shareholder value as a structuring logic of capitalism, and thus to explain changes to organizations in light of the increasing importance of finance. However, little has been said about the everyday practices and devices which enact such changes, or about how the experts implicated in financialization learn new corporate strategies and ways of implementing them. Her forthcoming book, The Work of Financialization (under contract with Duke University Press), demonstrates that, at its core, financialization is a set of management techniques which seek to ingrain new logics of worth pertaining to labour and to organizations as a whole. It focuses especially on the tensions between different logics of worth that are produced through material technologies and social processes, and the dynamic and fragmented character of financialization when observed on the ground.

More recently Kimberly has looked at the work of fund managers and other financial agents many of whom invest in Chinese state-owned enterprises and Chinese private companies, in collaboration with Professor David Tuckett at UCL’s Psychoanalysis Unit. She carried out ethnographic fieldwork of fund management conferences in the UK and interviewed traders to understand how financial agents make investment decisions under conditions of radical uncertainty. The research seriously considers the role of emotions in decision-making, arguing that financial agents deal with uncertainty and problems of determining cause and effect in financial markets by creating ‘conviction narratives’ – the narrativising of events and technologies to create convincing, attractive, projections of the future which can impel economic action.

Research interests:

  • anthropology of financialization
  • value and worth
  • economic action and decision-making
  • economic and political subjectivities
  • ‘corporate social responsibility’ and corporate ethicizing
  • labour and work
  • consumption
  • contemporary China

Publications

(2015, forthcoming) Producing ‘Global’ Corporate Subjects in China: Management Consulting and Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Anthropology.

(2015) Performing Worth: Shareholder Value and Management Consulting in post-Mao China. In Moments of Valuation: Exploring Sites of Dissonance, edited by David Stark, Michael Hutter and Ariane Berthoin Antal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

(2014) ‘Constructing Conviction through Action and Narrative: How Money Managers Manage Uncertainty and the Consequences for Financial Market Functioning’. (1st author, co-authored with David Tuckett). Socio-Economic Review. Published online doi: 10.1093/ser/mwu020