Can, Samil

Grad Status: 
Dissertation Writer

I am primarily interested in what I call “cultures of obligation” in economic exchange -- shifting “everyday framings” of economic behavior that maintain transaction chains by postulating, circulating and diversifying narratives, discourses and practices of obligation and authority across the formal vs. informal divide. Inspired by recent approaches that offer to “post-colonialize informality” (Varley 2013), I am doubtful whether we can conceptually separate “informal” from the “formal” at all without maintaining colonial fantasies about the intriguing, “flexible,” vital, yet continuously “lacking,” dysfunctional and devastated spaces of the global South. My PhD research focuses on debt networks, cultures of obligation and economies of informality among marginalized Muslim populations of New Delhi, asking how marginal populations of the global South make and re-make various forms of markets, rationalities, liberalisms and capitalisms -- even globalizations. Looking through the lens of “debt”, I seek to utilize the economic anthropology of informality into a political theology of everyday exchange, whereby I will explore cultural narratives, discursive tropes and embodied practices of obligation and authority that animate or circulate various claims to alternative (“spectral”) sovereignties (Butler 2004), legitimacies and authorities among Indian Muslims. Before Stanford, I completed two BA degrees in Bogazici University, respectively in Political Science and Philosophy, and received my MA degree from the same university in Sociology.