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2022 RSA CEE conference in Leipzig, Germany (14-17 Sept)

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Special Session SS05 at the 2022 RSA CEE conference in Leipzig, Germany (14-17 Sept 2022). 

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Arguments centred on infrastructure have become increasingly influential across social sciences. While infrastructure is primarily understood as embedded technical support systems that provide services to populations and organizations, social scientists document that infrastructures themselves are integrated into larger ecologies of other infrastructures, social organization, work routines, norms and standards, communities of users etc. (Niewöhner 2017). Infrastructures can be thus seen as extended and technologically mediated material assemblages that continuously produce social and socio-technical relations in both planned and unplanned ways (Harvey et al. 2017). Scholars working on finance deploy the concept as a heuristic for making visible “hard” infrastructures in finance as well as the socio-technical and organizational arrangements and processes surrounding them (Bernards and Campbell-Verduyn 2019; Krarup 2019). They further developed the notion of the infrastructural power of finance to draw attention to the ways in which state actors such as central banks and treasuries come to depend on financial actors, markets and practices for the execution of their policies, with obvious implications for regulation (Braun 2020; Gabor and Braun 2020). A related line of enquiry focuses on entanglements between financial infrastructures and security (de Goede 2020), which have been recently taken to a new level with unprecedented sanctions against Russia’s access to particular financial markets, assets or payment systems. This special session invites analyses of these two dimensions of the relationship between infrastructure and finance in Eastern Europe – a region in which this line of enquiry is still underdeveloped, although existing scholarship already points to distinctive financial infrastructures such as foreign-led banking systems.

First, the session invites analyses of the infrastructures of Eastern European finance. The term is interpreted such as to cover a wide range of infrastructural phenomena – technological instruments and systems (e.g. trading platforms, payment systems, credit registries), mechanisms and techniques (e.g. credit scoring, government debt issuance techniques), and institutions and institutional frameworks (e.g. exchanges, markets.).

Second, the session invites reflections on the infrastructural power of finance in the region as well as its limits – the ways in which financial instruments and markets become prerequisites for monetary, security and other policies, but also the ways in which states may reassert their power vis-à-vis finance and deploy it for their purposes.