Douglas R. Holmes
Douglas R. Holmes

One of the decisive features of the global monetary regime is that its operation is in the visible hands and audible voices of a tiny group of government appointees: central bankers. This small cadre of officials not only manages this new regime; many of them played a pivotal role in designing it. These figures have developed a policy framework—an experimental framework—to influence expectations not merely about the future, but in the future and thereby shape and format economic behavior prospectively. This is the starting point of his research within a series of remarkable anthropological settings: The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, The Riksbank, The Bank of England, The European Central Bank, and The Deutsche Bundesbank. 

About the project

His research thus focuses on how central bankers seek to endow the future with discernable features that the public can reflect and act upon animating or curtailing our propensities to produce, consume, borrow and lend. He has argued that central bankers—rather than predicting the future—seek to create elements of a tractable future. They do this with words.  They use language to sustain not merely the ideas that animate our economic future, but also the structures of feeling, the sentiments and expectations that make them real establishing a radically communicative dynamic at the center of monetary affairs.

Selected Publications


Public Currency: Anthropological Labor in Central Banks. Journal of Cultural Economy. Special Issue: “Pragmatics of Money,” 9(1): 5-26.

Fascism 2. Guest editorial, Anthropology Today, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 32(2): 1-3.


Economy of Words: Communicative Imperatives in Central Banks. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

"Communicative Imperatives in Central Banks," Cornell International Law Journal. 47 (1): 15-61.

"How the Fed Learned to Talk: Communication is Now a Tool of Economic Policy," Sunday/Review: Opinion, New York Times, February 2.


(with George E. Marcus) "Collaborative Imperatives: A Manifesto, of sorts, for the Re-imagination of the Classic Scene of Fieldwork Encounter." In Collaborators Collaborating: Counterparts in Anthropological Knowledge and International Research Relations. Monica Konrad (Ed.), pp. 126-43. Oxford: Berghahn.


"Economy of Words," Cultural Anthropology. 24(3): 381-419.

"Experimental Identities (After Maastricht)," In European Identity. Peter Katzenstein and Jeffery Checkel (eds.), pp. 52-80, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


(with George E. Marcus). "Collaboration Today and the Re-Imagination of the Classic Scene of Fieldwork Encounter," Collaborative Anthropologies 1:136-70.


(with George E. Marcus) "Fast Capitalism: Para-Ethnography and the Rise of the Symbolic Analyst," In Frontiers of Capital. Melissa S. Fisher and Greg Downey (eds.), pp. 33-56. Durham: Duke University Press.


(with George E. Marcus) "Cultures of Expertise and the Management of Globalization: Toward the Re-functioning of Ethnography." In Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems, eds. Aihwa Ong and Stephen J. Collier, pp. 235-52. Oxford: Blackwell.


Integral Europe: Fast-Capitalism, Multiculturalism, Neofascism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Cultural Disenchantments: Worker Peasantries in Northeast Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.