Dr Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar
Department of Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University
Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar’s research lies at the crossroads of economic and political anthropology. His interest in the anthropology of tax was sparked during his PhD project on alternative economies in Catalonia. There he found that anti-capitalist networks and cooperatives not only engaged in tax evasion, but also created their own systems of common (monetary) resource pooling. This resulted in an article on what he calls ‘the Fiscal Commons’ (Social Analysis 64(2), 2020).
Vinzenz’s focus in the anthropology of tax lies with the various ways in which the social contract is negotiated and contested through tax and other forms of fiscal contributions.
He recently defended his dissertation entitled ‘Re-Assembling the Economy. Work, Life and Value in Catalonia’ and is currently working as a teacher at Utrecht University. In addition, he is preparing a research proposal on tax, the welfare state, and the changing economic order in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Marc P. Berenson
Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor), King's College London, Russia Institute, School of Politics and Economics, London
Prior to joining King’s Russia Institute in September 2013, Dr Marc P. Berenson was serving, since 2007, as a research fellow on the Governance Team at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton. His projects on governance, tax compliance, tax administration, state capacity and state-society relations in Russia, Ukraine and Poland have been empirically, conceptually and methodologically ground-breaking, with a particular (and particularly important) focus on the ways in which citizens’ interactions with the bureaucracy shapes and is shaped by their perceptions of the state and the meaning of their own citizenship.
Dr Berenson’s recent book - Taxes and Trust: From Coercion to Compliance in Poland, Russia and Ukraine – was published by Cambridge University Press (free to download on Open Access) and focuses on three states at three, distinctly different stages of the transition from a coercive governing regime to a rule-of-law state. Effective governance in the tax arena, the book shows, occurs when state and society interact in a dualistic process through trust.
Previously, Dr Berenson worked as a research analyst for the American Bar Association, the EastWest Institute, The Carter Center and the Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He also has undertaken several consultancies, for, among others, the World Bank in Russia and the OECD’s Tax and Development Programme.
After receiving his BA from Harvard University, Dr Berenson founded and directed from 1996 to 1998 the 'Law in Action' program for Freedom House in Kyiv, Ukraine, before receiving his PhD in Political Science from Princeton University in 2006. A recipient of more than a dozen academic grants and fellowships, he is fluent in Russian, Polish and English, reads Ukrainian and speaks Italian.
Dr Lotta Björklund Larsen
Associate Professor in Anthropology, Research Fellow at Tax Administration Research Centre, University of Exeter
Broadly based in economic, legal and moral anthropology, my research interest circles around taxation. “Why we pay tax, why we avoid doing so and how we are made to pay tax” are questions that bring to fore people’s relation to state, market and fellow citizens. Through my research on taxation I have looked into knowledge that shapes people’s lives, collaborative anthropologies and the digitization of society.
I am convinced of the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to the tax field and thus for the anthropological contribution if we are to understand the obscenely complex issue that taxation is. The methodological assumptions for addressing taxation issues in different scientific disciplines is of particular interest for me.
Some of my recent publications:
A Fair Share of Tax: A Fiscal Anthropology of Contemporary Sweden (2018, Palgrave), available HERE
“Mind the (tax) gap: An ethnography of a number” Journal of Cultural Economy, available HERE
My website has a complete list of publications, projects, and activities: www.lottabjorklundlarsen.se
Dr Karen Boll
Associate Professor at the Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Originally, Karen Boll was trained as an ethnologist, and started her career as a civil servant in the Danish Ministry of Taxation – working with qualitative analyses of tax compliance practices. Subsequent to conducting a PhD in collaboration with the Danish tax authority, Boll has continued conducting ethnographic and qualitative studies of tax authorities’ work, business’ tax compliance practices, and collaborative tax regulation. This interest forms the entire portfolio of Boll’s research.
Boll’s work has been innovative in seeing tax compliance as an assemblage of relations and actors, and groundbreaking in her access to studying tax administration in both Denmark and Sweden. Boll's work on taxation has been published extensively in journals such as the Journal of Organizational Ethnography, the Nordic Tax Journal, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, the Journal of Cultural Economy, the Journal of Tax Administration and Accounting, and Organizations and Society.
Recently, Boll has been partner in the Horizon2020 project FairTax and done research on cooperative compliance and collaborative relations between large corporations and tax authorities.
See the Fairtax website for more information: https://www.umu.se/en/fairtax/
Research Group Democracy and Statehood, Hamburg Institute for Social Research, Germany
As an historical sociologist, Lars Döpking’s research focuses on the development of the tax state in Western Europe since 1945. His doctoral thesis analyses the transformations of the Italian tax state. He is most focused on the professionalization of tax authorities, the historical genesis of tax evasion, tax politics, and tax diplomacy - always in an attempt to decipher the genesis of the Italian tax state’s rule as an accumulation of fiscal domination. Additionally, he pursues theoretical questions - what is a tax state and how does it change - and is equally interested in the developments of tax payment, tax extraction, and tax protest in Spain, Chile, and Germany.
Lars Döpking works at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, teaches at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Georg-August University Göttingen, and was a fellow at the German Historical Institute in Rome. He is also member of the “Arbeitskreis Steuergeschichte”, an interdisciplinary network of German-speaking legal scholars, historians, social scientists, and economists.
PhD Candidate, Linköping University, Fair Tax Project, Horizon 2020
Nimmo Elmi is a final PhD candidate at Linköping University. As an anthropologist as well as science and technology scholar, she researches the nexus between society and technology, specifically in taxation and digitalisation.
Elmi's research focuses mainly on how ideas and rationality travel to developing countries. Her current research attends to the current wave of tax digitalisation in developing countries, specifically Kenya. Using anthropological methods she investigates how this technology creates community around itself. As part of this, she asks: who do the designers of the technology envision as the end user of this technology?
Her overall interest is to understand how the current wave of digitalisation corresponds to global ideas of sustainable economic development. The research project analyses holistically how taxation changes when policies like digitalisation are implemented in developing countries that have weak technological infrastructures.
See the Fairtax website for more information: https://www.umu.se/en/fairtax/
Dr Matti Eräsaari
Postdoctoral Researcher, Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki, Finland
Eräsaari specialises in Oceanic ethnography, and has written, for example, about exchange, value, funerals, food, and drink in Fiji. Eräsaari's most recent research projects have dealt with time: he spent 2015-2017 at the University of Manchester working on a project entitled, “Eating money, eating time: The value of time in Fiji”. He currently works on comparative Finnish materials from a Helsinki-based timebank and from the time-allocation systems employed at Finnish universities.
Eräsaari’s research deals with taxation in two particular instances: Finnish timebanking and Fijian bookkeeping. His work on the Helsinki Timebank (in the 2020 issue of Social Analysis 64(2)) highlights the timebank’s struggle to maintain its own value regime which differs radically from the one issued in the Finnish Tax Administration’s instructions for timebanking in Finland. Eräsaari’s work on Fijian “cash books” (Finnish-language book chapter under review) analyses village-level fundraising and its accounting practices as the expression of a particular Fijian moral economy embedded within colonial-era state proceduralism. In both instances, Eräsaari pays particular attention to the way number and quantity become subject to moral evaluations.
Ida Hughes Tidlund
Doctoral Researcher, Centre for Maritime Studies (CEMAS), Stockholm University
Ida’s PhD project explores the borders of the autonomous region of the Åland islands in the Baltic Sea and the administration that comes with the geographical definition of the territory. With Åland being outside the value-added-tax area of the EU, the tangible implications of taxation stirred Ida’s interest in legal structures and individual practices.
She is particularly intrigued by the ways in which tax issues are connected to the symbolic autonomy of the minority, while at the same time being rather pragmatically approached in everyday life.
Trained as an ethnologist with an interest for the past, Ida’s research combines historical sources and contemporary ethnography. Her main research interest is at the crossroads of legal structures and everyday life.
Dr Anna-Riikka Kauppinen
Research Associate, Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Anna-Riikka’s interest in taxation was sparked by listening to her Ghanaian colleagues compare the benefits of paying taxes to the state vis-à-vis paying tithes (ten percent of one’s income) to their churches. This resulted in an article on taxation as part of a broader universe of monetary transfers in which its capacity to realize public goods and other ‘rightful returns’ is negotiated (in Social Analysis 64(2), 2020). She is currently writing a book chapter titled ‘The Nurturing State: an intimate portrait of becoming a tax-payer in Ghana,' which follows the moral dilemmas and demands that the process of formalizing a commercial enterprise, and thus becoming a taxable entity, elicits in Ghana.
Alongside taxation, Anna-Riikka is in the process of preparing a book manuscript titled Intimate Audits: Pursuing Professional Worth in a West African Business Hub, which builds on her doctoral work on professional aspiration and emerging audit cultures in Ghana’s capital Accra. As a post-doctoral Research Associate in Cambridge, she is currently researching Ghana's 2017-2019 banking crisis with a focus on the moral debates of accountability and economic sovereignty. Anna-Riikka also sustains a broader interest in the economic influence of Charismatic Pentecostal churches in West Africa and their role in the urban financial eco-system.
Dr Nicolette Makovicky
Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies, University of Oxford
Nicolette Makovicky is Lecturer (equiv. Assistant Professor) in Russian and East European Studies at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford. She has published on themes including labor, ethics, informal economy, tax, and entrepreneurialism in Slovakia and Poland. Her current interests are the political economy of handicrafts and pastoralism in Central Europe, and moral economies of corruption and tax fraud.
She is particularly interested in the way diverse cultural and political contexts - including histories of citizenship and moralities of exchange - may influence participation in collaborative tax regulation. She co-edited the recent special issue Beyond the Social Contract: An Anthropology of Tax with Robin Smith.
Dr Makovicky is the editor of Neoliberalism, Personhood, Postsocialism: Enterprising Selves in Changing Economies (Ashgate, 2014), and co-editor of Economies of Favour after Socialism (University of Oxford Press, 2016) and Slogans: Subjection, Subversion and the Politics of Neoliberalism (Routledge 2018).
Dr Johanna Mugler
Lecturer and Researcher, Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland
Johanna’s work focuses predominately on an anthropological analysis of the working of modern statehood, and more specifically, how accountability and norms of sharing and distribution emerge and are being transformed in key state institutions.
Her second monograph analyzes the creation of international norms for taxing multinational enterprises' profits from an anthropological perspective. Through long-term field fieldwork (2014-2019) at the OECD in Paris, international tax conferences worldwide and at finance departments of G20 countries, she studied the actors and decision-making processes through which these norms develop, thereby contributing original insights into the sources of their authority and the stakes that underlie them.
Th book shows how key state and non-state decision-makers deal with the growing mismatch between the national territorial organization of nation-states and the increasing transnational orientation of economic activity. In addition, it raises the question how far current anthropological research habits contribute to our understanding of how to live in a world of global entanglements and worldwide interdependence extending beyond the reach of local and/or national government or impede such discussions.
She is the author of: Measuring Justice. Quantitative Accountability and the National Prosecuting Authority. Cambridge University Press. 2019, shortlisted for the Book Prize of the British Socio-Legal Studies Association 2020; and A World of Indicators. The Making of Governmental Knowledge Through Quantification, Cambridge University Press. 2015, edited together with Sally Engle Merry, Sung-Joon Park and Richard Rottenburg.
She is also editing a forthcoming volume on the Anthropology of Taxation together with Miranda Sheild Johansson and Robin Smith.
DPhil Candidate, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford
My doctoral research project looks at changing understandings and relations between people and the state in the Baltics after 1990, where I work on predominantly Russian-speaking, former socialist industrial regions in particular. Focusing on everyday encounters with different state institutions and practices such as citizenship and taxation, my research looks at how (non-)citizens in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia come to relate with what is today the national state and define their own position within it.
My interest in tax lies in the various ways that Russian-speaking as well as ethnically Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian (non-)citizens define and negotiate their identities as working and taxpaying subjects. I look at how the language of the social contract, and work and taxes in particular, is used to claim membership and deservedness within the national community. Finally, I am interested in how people’s perceptions of the state affect their tax-related behaviour and (non-)compliance. Thereby, using the lens of tax, my research is primarily concerned with how the social contract is understood, negotiated, and constituted locally.
Dr Lynne Oats
Professor of Taxation and Accounting, University of Exeter
I am a tax specialist with a background in tax administration who has been teaching and researching taxation for many years, both in Australia and in the UK. My research interests revolve around how tax is practiced by taxpayers, tax authorities and policy makers, not only in contemporary settings but also historically.
I strongly believe that tax needs to be viewed as a multifaceted and multidisciplinary endeavour and that thinking of tax as a purely economic or legal phenomenon severely limits our understanding of the way tax is shaped by, and shapes, the societies in which we live. In my 2012 publication, Taxation: A Fieldwork Research Handbook, I try to inspire new ways of thinking about tax through qualitative inquiry.
More recently, I have researched the relationship between large, multinational enterprises and tax authorities, in part through work funded by the Horizon 2020 project FairTax.
Dr Oliver Owen
Departmental Lecturer, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford
Olly's interests centre on political anthropology and the relations between governments and publics in West Africa, the configurations of material interests, experiences and meanings construed in these encounters; as part of an anthropology of the state which ‘de-naturalises’ governmental institutions to look at them as social formations. He recentely completed an ethnography of new transformations in revenue and fiscal governance in Nigeria, looking at taxation relationships between the state and citizens, and how questions of social contract and political accountability are popularly understood. Alongside this, he continues a focus on policing structures and practices, both engaging in comparative research on policing in the postcolonial world, and working with stakeholders in Nigeria to feed research into policy debates.
His new research extends time horizons forward and backward, looking at the ways both future and past are imagined through tropes such as infrastructure. He also continues other longstanding interests in history, politics and governance in the West African sub-region and is a co-researcher on the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow running a three-year Economic and Social Research Council project entitled Social contracts in transformation: Tax reform in Nigeria at the Oxford Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House).
Having an active programme of research engagements with policymakers and publics, since 2017, Olly has been the Research Director of the Nigeria Tax Research Network. His work on Nigeria’s World War II veterans resulted in a co-produced prizewinning short film, and ongoing work with publics in Nigeria and the diaspora to showcase and interpret soldiers’ songs in the Imperial War Museum collections. In 2018, Olly was awarded a joint Social Science Knowledge Exchange Fellowship with Professor Wale Adebanwi to work with Lagos-based heritage groups on rail heritage in Nigeria. In 2015, he won an ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for his research on the Nigerian Police Force.
Dr Gregory Rawlings
Head of Programme, Social Anthropology Programme | Mātai Tikaka Takata, School of Social Sciences | Te Puna Pāpori, University of Otago | Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo, Dunedin | Ōtepoti, New Zealand | Aotearoa
Greg Rawlings is the Head of the Social Anthropology Programme in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Otago, located in New Zealand’s South Island. Greg's research and teaching focuses on processes of globalisation, transnationalism and citizenship. He also has interests in the cultural politics of archiving and documentation, while earlier work examined urbanisation in the Pacific. Greg is a social anthropologist with intersecting interests in political, economic and historical anthropology. His interests in taxation emerged when conducting fieldwork in Vanuatu (known as the New Hebrides until independence in 1980), an archipelagic country of some 80 islands in the South West Pacific Ocean. Vanuatu is an offshore finance centre, or tax haven, and Greg became fascinated by the inequalities between indigenous ni-Vanuatu (the people of the place) and wealthy expatriates and descendents of colonial settlers. The latter invariably paid no income tax. Indirect consumption, turnover and provincial taxes fell disproprirately on the mainly low-income indigenous majority.
Greg subsquently worked on taxation research while at the Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI) (which operated 1999-2006) at the Australian National University (ANU), http://regnet.anu.edu.au/research/centres/centre-tax-system-integrity-ctsi and http://www.ctsi.org.au which has continued since he arrived at the University of Otago in 2007. This research has included projects and publications on tax compliance amongst Small and Medium Sized Entreprises (SMEs) and large corporations in Australia, the OECD’s work on offshore finannce centres, histories of tax havens, the use of offshore trusts and the relationship between notions of fairness, citizrenship and tax morale. Greg was also involved in a collaborate project at the University of Utrecht examining money laudering in the Netherlands from 2005-2006.
This tax research has been complemented by interests in citizenship, nationality and human rights. He has now turned his attention to examine the ways residency, citizenship, statelessness and nationality influence taxation and is examining how the concepts of abode, domicile and residence can be invoked to reduce tax obligations. As with citizenship-for-sale programmes, countries are moving towards offering “tax residence” to investors. They then either forgo the tax due or offer generous concessions such as tax holidays which can last for up to a decade. This continues research that positions the nexus between citizenship and taxation to examine relationships between persons, properties and states and the historical hierarchies that have produced contemporary transnational and global political, economic and cultural orders.
Dr Janet Roitman
University Professor at The New School, New York
Janet Roitman is a University Professor at The New School and founder/director of the Platform Economies Research Group. She has conducted extensive research in Central Africa with a focus on the anthropology of value and emergent forms of the political.
Her first book, Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa (Princeton University Press, 2005), is an analysis of unregulated commerce in the Chad Basin that documents emergent forms of economic regulation and explains consequential transformations in state governance in the Chad Basin.
Her second book, Anti-Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013) investigates the concept of crisis as an object of knowledge. This work examines how the concept of crisis enables certain questions while foreclosing others, using the 2007-2008 Great Recession as a point of illustration.
Her current research focuses on new financial technologies and “high finance” in West Africa, with specific attention to new platforms for value production and the emergence of domestic capital markets. Prior to joining The New School, she was a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and an instructor at Sciences-Po, Paris. Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Agence française du développement, and the Institute for Public Knowledge.
See her faculty page for a full list of publications and links: Here
Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson
Senior Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University College London
Miranda Sheild Johansson is a Senior Research Fellow at UCL. Her Leverhulme-funded project, ‘Becoming a Tax Payer: Fiscal Expansion and Economic Subjectivities in Bolivia’, explores the experiences of recent rural-to-urban migrants as they encounter and make sense of expanding national tax structures into which they are being incorporated. In 2021 she joined the ERC-funded project ‘Anthropologies of Extortion’ (PI Professor Lucia Michelutti) where she will examine the relationship between logics of contract and extortion, and voluntary and involuntary inclusions/exclusion in fiscal systems in Bolivia
Key areas of focus in Miranda’s work on tax include: indigenous perspectives on tax, decolonising tax, statecraft in Latin America, the relationship between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ money flows, fiscal exchange logics, and the Social Contract. She has also published on themes of agricultural labour, the value of productivity, and animate landscapes in highland Bolivia.
Miranda is the co-editor of a forthcoming volume on the anthropology of tax and the author of the Tax entry in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology. She has published pieces on Andean fiscal cultures in Social Analysis and History and Anthropology. Together with Dr Soumhya Venkatesan she has secured funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for a workshop on the Anthropology of tax, now scheduled for Spring 2021.
Dr Robin Smith
Wenner-Gren Hunt Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
I created and maintain this website! Welcome!
I am an economic anthropologist of post-socialist Europe. My research focus is presently on financial practices in the agribusiness sector in southeastern Europe. I will undertake a new research project on tax evasion in 2022 as a Marie Curie Fellow at Copenhagen Business School with Karen Boll (also on this site!).
My tax research focuses on the unintended consequences of tax reforms for rural Croatian entrepreneurs. I contributed to and co-edited the Social Analysis journal special issue Beyond the Social Contract: An Anthropology of Tax, with Nicolette Makovicky. I am co-editor of a book volume on the anthropology of tax with Miranda Sheild Johansson and Johanna Mugler. I have published in Anthropology Today and co-edited a book volume published in 2018 with LIT Verlag, Utopia and Neoliberalism: Ethnographies of Rural Spaces.
My monograph based on my doctoral research on economic resiliency in the Istrian business community, is in progress.
If you would like your work or personal profile to appear on this site, or have research or CfPs to share, please be in touch with me!
My personal website, with an updated list of publications, is: www.robin-anthro.com