Laura Finch

Laura Finch
Assistant Professor

14N-438
lafinch@mit.edu
(617) 253-3521

Laura Finch works on twentieth and twenty-first century literatures in English, with a particular focus on the lived experience of the economy. Her book manuscript Intimate Economies: Finance, Scale, and Lived Abstraction interrogates the dominant narrative of finance as an asocial and abstract form of capital by reading it alongside other forms of social abstractions that play out unevenly along lines of race, gender, and sexuality. The book argues that existing accounts of finance as an abstract economic and social structure that took off in the US in the early 1970s occludes both the long history of economic abstraction faced by marginalised populations, as well as obscuring the different ways that finance has been received, created, and contested in different locations. Intimate Economies covers works by authors as disparate as Bret Easton Ellis, Samuel Delany, Toni Cade Bambara, Tash Aw, Mohsin Hamid, Lauren Beukes, Chang-rae Lee, and Alexis Wright, alongside urban planning archives, the development of the discourse of nanotechnology, the financialisation of natural resources, the discourse of philanthrocapitalism, and the forms of transnational activisms that resist the hegemony of racial capitalism. Reading these texts together brings to light both the varied material effects of finance capital across different geographies, as well as the variety of oppositional narratives that take shape in response to it.

Professor Finch’s work has appeared in anthologies and journals including Comparative Literature Studies (as the winner of the A. Owen Aldridge Essay Prize), the Journal of American Studies, the Journal of Cultural Economy, boundary2, the Journal of Modern Literature, Textual Practice, and The Routledge Companion series. Her second project “Girlish: Empire, Capital, and Impossible Subjects” continues her work on the enmeshed categories of individual and economic. Taking as its provocation the heralding of “The Girl” as the new frontier of global investment by the World Bank in 1992, this project theorises girlhood beyond the arid outlines of entrepreneur or victim as prescribed for her by the language of the global economy. This project triangulates the discourse of the diminutive entrepreneur in the Global South with narratives of white Western girls (fashioned as both the product and producer of an irrational and violent social disorder), with the girls who are left out of either story: written off as sunk costs, girls of colour, trans-girls, and girls residing under conditions of settler colonialism do not need a narrative of serial violence to put them in danger, for their existence is already under erasure.