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Arnaud Esquerre

Author and sociologist Arnaud Esquerre will be on tour in the US in promotion of the new translation of his novel, Enrichment: A Critique of Commodities (tr. Catherine Porter).

Sociologist Arnaud Esquerre works at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France and is a member of the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative (LESC) at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. 

About the Book: Enrichment

Arnaud Esquerre and co-author Luc Boltanski recount the historic movement which has, since the last quarter of the 20th century, profoundly modified the way in which wealth is created in Western European countries, characterized on the one hand by deindustrialization and on the other by the growing exploitation of resources that have taken on an unprecedented importance. This new “enrichment” form of capitalism is closely associated with the arts, culture, the sale of antique and heritage items, the creation of foundations and museums, the luxury sector, and tourism. The constant interactions between these different domains allow for an understanding of how they generate a profit: they all share a reliance upon the exploitation of the past. 

Translated by Catherine Porter from French, Enrichment will be published in English in June 2020.

Suggested talk

Enrichment. A Critique of Commodities

Co-written by Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre, Enrichment offers a new account of modern capitalism and of the ways in which value and wealth are created today.  Boltanski and Esquerre argue that since the last quarter of the 20th century, capitalism in the West has undergone a fundamental transformation characterized by de-industrialization, on the one hand, and, on the other, by the increased exploitation of certain resources that, while not entirely new, have taken on unprecedented importance.  It is this new form of exploitation that has given rise to what they call the enrichment economy.  The enrichment economy is based less on the production of new objects —as in factory-based industrial capitalism— and more on the enrichment of things and places that already exist. It has grown out of a combination of many different activities and phenomena, including those associated with the development of tourism, the luxury manufacturer, heritage creation, the growth of museums, the antiques trade, and the art market, all of which involve, in their varying ways, the exploitation of the past. The enrichment economy draws upon the trade in objects that are intended above all for the wealthy, thus providing a supplementary source of enrichment for those who deal in these things and exacerbating the gap between rich and poor.   


Note that we have limited funding available for our tours. Please let us know if you would be able to arrange for domestic travel to/from the event. If you would like to invite this author to speak at your university or bookstore, please fill out the application form and email it to Anne-Sophie Hermil.