Ruben Kremers, Lena Rethel

Curated Power: The Performative Politics of (Industry) Events

  • Sociology and Political Science

Abstract Since the turn of the millennium, there has been an increased interest in the social performance of power in international political sociology. At the same time, recent years have seen the growing popularity of event ethnographic research approaches. In this article, we develop the concept of “curated power” as a tool to explore the performative enactment of power at and through conferences and events. A focus on curated power, we argue, can orient scholars of performative power toward conferences and events as an analytical entry point, and orient event ethnographic approaches toward the performance of classed, gendered, and racialized hierarchies as a central research concern. To develop these points, and to illustrate the analytical purchase of the concept, we provide a concrete example of its application by analyzing the performative enactment of social hierarchies at industry events in two alternative financial subsectors: FinTech and Islamic finance. In both sectors, we show that curated power can provide a situated and nuanced understanding of why and how corporate efforts to change finance for the better—whether on the basis of religious principles or advanced technological capabilities—often remain complicit in perpetuating classed, gendered, and racialized hierarchies.

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