What is it about?

This article examines what it means to experience a severe economic crisis through a case study of the 2008 banking and economic collapse in Iceland (part of the global financial crisis [2008-2011]). By accounting for neoliberal policy changes in the mid-2000s and the increase in nationalistic language used by politicians, we analyse the rise of a shared financial dream in Iceland premised on a bright economic future after years of currency fluctuation. The article then uses ethnography (i.e. interviews and observations) to look at how the crisis is remembered and accounted for in everyday life, finding that a sense of unabated anticipation remains among Icelanders about the potential for another economic crisis in the future.

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Why is it important?

With crisis becoming a common condition of our time, one that severely affects individuals and communities economically, socially and politically, this research contributes to the "lived experience" of crisis and disaster. It adds weight to the argument that crisis is rarely momentary or fleeting, but affects people emotionally, financially and psychologically. This is often the case for extended periods of time and is due to intense, sudden feelings of insecurity in the present and over what the future might hold. The insights raised in this article are all the more important with covid-19 leading to similar feelings of social, economic and political uncertainty.

Perspectives

Through a cautionary tale of economic boom and bust in Iceland, we hope this article provides insight into crisis experiences for countries the world over, and generates more conversation about how crisis is experienced.

Timothy Heffernan
University of New South Wales

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This page is a summary of: Crisis futures: The affects and temporalities of economic collapse in Iceland, History and Anthropology, May 2020, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/02757206.2020.1762589.
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