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The 1930s as black mirror: Visions of historical repetition in the global financial press, 2007-2009

Samman, A. (2012). The 1930s as black mirror: Visions of historical repetition in the global financial press, 2007-2009. Journal of Cultural Economy, 5(2), pp. 213-229. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2012.660792


Media coverage of the recent financial crisis has referred extensively to various past crises, and in particular to the events of the 1930s. This article suggests that the idea of the Great Depression has effectively come to function as a kind of historical ‘black mirror’ – a quasi-object within which conjuncture and historical representation interact to produce an image of capitalist history itself. Focusing on the journalistic output of four key financial publications, I trace how portrayals of the 1930s have evolved over the course of the crisis. I find that while the 1930s are frequently and consistently invoked in ways that purport to reveal the historicity of the crisis, these representations produce an oscillation between different visions of historical repetition, which in turn underpin competing interpretations of the crisis as it unfolds. In so doing, I argue, appeals to the 1930s have simultaneously served to conceal and disclose the constitutive relation of historical imagination to historical process – a double move that has had the paradoxical effect of both securing and undermining the reproduction of finance capitalism as we have come to know it.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Capitalism, media, Great Depression, historicity, crisis, historical representation
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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