Dr Maxim Bolt Speaks at the St Anne’s PPE Society

On 23 January the St Anne’s PPE Society hosted a talk from Dr Maxim Bolt, who will be joining the College as Associate Professor in Development Studies in April. His talk explored the ‘grey zones’ that scholars of formal political and economic systems frequently overlook but as the mainstay of anthropology. Drawing on several years of fieldwork, Dr Bolt presented ethnographic insights from two case studies – industrial export-focused fruit farms and urban property ownership – demonstrating the tensions involved in trying to achieve economic inclusion in post-apartheid South Africa. His talk shone light on the grey zones between formality and informality, between the ‘on paper’ rules and what happens in practice, and between the messiness of reality and the elegance of models. The discussion continued at the drinks receptions afterwards, with PPE students probing deeper into questions of methodology and the tricky task of working within and between disciplines. The event highlighted the value of connecting Politics, Philosophy and Economics to proximate disciplines like Anthropology and Development Studies, and broadening our field of study to encompass processes of change beyond the West.