Seminar | The invention of the New Zealand economy and the geography of statistics | by Russell Prince, Massey University

Thursday, October 10th | 16:30 – 18:00 | Leeuwenborch building, room C76

Despite its ubiquity in modern political discourse, the idea of the economy is a relatively recent invention. It emerged in the middle decades of the twentieth century along with an international statistical edifice comprised of organisations like the UN, IMF and OECD to manage international relations and economic development. Today, many of the statistical measures created during this period, such as the totemic metric of GDP, are being called into question as part of a more generalised crisis of expertise. But they have left their mark, not only redefining what is understood to be the task of government – to make the economy ‘grow’ – but shaping the way that knowledge and policy moves between states. This presentation is from an ongoing project examining the invention of the New Zealand economy in the context of the emerging global geography of economic statistics. New Zealand occupies a place in the global order that is neither in what was regarded as the developing world, but which is also outside the capitalist core of North America and Europe. This can cast a light on how the enterprise of statistics globalised to become central to the postwar state and policy system and the organisation of capitalism.

Russell Prince is a senior lecturer in human geography at Massey University in New Zealand and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century at University College Cork. His research interests include policy mobility, neoliberalism, and the geography of expertise. He has published widely on these topics, including in Progress in Human Geography, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.