Sarah Muir


Director, International Studies Program

Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs


Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Ethical Evaluation
  • Financial Crisis
  • Political Critique
  • Practical Logics of Economic Investment
  • Social Class


North Academic Center



Sarah Muir


Muir’s research draws on the traditions of linguistic, political-economic, and historical anthropology to investigate practices of economic investment and ethical evaluation in contemporary Argentina. Her first book, Routine Crisis: An Ethnography of Disillusion (University of Chicago Press, 2021), traces the lived consequences of Argentina's history of repeated financial crisis. Her current project, Accounting for Kith and Kin: Financial Ethics and the Space-Time of Obligation, investigates the semiotics of numbers in the politics of obligation, belonging, and accountability. Her work has appeared in journals such as Cultural Anthropology, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Current Anthropology, Dialogues in Human Geography, Journal of Cultural Economy, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and Review of the Italian Academic Association of Cultural Anthropologists. Formerly the Co-Director of the Unpayable Debt Working Group (Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University), she has also helped curate and author works of public scholarship such as the Global Debt Syllabus and the Caribbean Debt Syllabus.


2011        Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Chicago
2003        M.A., Anthropology, University of Chicago
1998        B.A., Anthropology (summa cum laude), Barnard College


Recently taught courses at CCNY include:

  • Language in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Global Social Theory
  • Global Perspective
  • Senior Thesis
  • Language and Power
  • Research Methods in International Studies

Research Interests

  • Critical political economy, financial markets, currencies
  • Crisis, social reproduction, historical imagination
  • Semiotic economies, narrative genres, publics
  • Linguistic personhood, language ideology, narrative and political economy
  • Regimes of inequality, distinction, and distribution
  • Moral and economic obligation, financial ethics, pension plans
  • Popular practices of critique and evaluation
  • Liberalism, illiberalism, and the politics of anti-corruption 
  • Latin America, Southern Cone, Argentina

Select Publications

2021        Routine Crisis: An Ethnography (Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning Series, 
University of Chicago Press)

2022    Disappointment, Annual Review of Anthropology 51: 307-323 (co-authored with Jessica
    Greenberg, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

2022    Illiberal Economies: Critique and Ambivalence in an Alternative Investment Scheme,
    Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 28(4): 1211-1233 (co-authored with Tiana Bakić-Hayden, El Colegio de México) 

2020    La corrupción como categoría clave para pensar la clase media argentina, Argentina y sus clases medias: Panoramas de la investigación empírica en ciencias sociales (pp. 143-158), edited by Enrique Garguin and Serio Visacovsky, Buenos Aires: Biblos. 

2018    Rethinking the Anthropology of Corruption, Current Anthropology 59(S15): S4-S15 (principal author; with Akhil Gupta, University of California, Los Angeles)

2017        Recursive (In)Formality: Law and Legitimacy in a Distributed Monetary System, 
Anuac: Review of the Italian Academic Association of Cultural Anthropologists 6(2): 77-83.

2016        On Historical Exhaustion: Argentine Critique in an Era of “Total Corruption,”
        Comparative Studies in Society and History 58(1): 128-159.

2015        Currency of Failure: Money and Middle-Class Critique in Post-Crisis Buenos Aires, 
Cultural Anthropology 30(2): 310-335.