The Domestic Moral Economy

An ethnographic study of value in the Asia Pacific region.

The project investigates anthropological approaches to the analysis of value after the failure of Bretton Woods and the loss of international monetary policy and the new rise of ‘money as value’. 

This project is directed by Prof Karen Sykes and consists of four components aimed at different audiences.


The first consists of an annual series of graduate seminars on anthropological approaches to value. This series is held in spring during Gregory’s annual visit to Manchester. These are aimed at graduate students in Anthropology at Manchester but others are welcome, especially postgraduate students in the North West Doctoral Training Centre (NWDTC). 

They are based around a discussion of recent articles on anthropological approaches to value.

The aim is to address general questions by means of an examination of ethnographic analyses from different regions of the world.

The value question today 

This is a series of roundtable discussions in collaboration with the Political Economy Centre. These are open to staff and graduate students at Manchester but others are welcome. Themes discussed so far, have drawn from classic debates about the theory of value and moral economy to contemporary issues such as the values that inform remittances in the transnational economy today or those that shape micro-finance of poor families in local neighbourhoods.

International workshops

These sessions, in Canberra, Belfast, and Manchester, will feature scholars who bring research papers into a historically-informed comparative analyses of value in the domestic moral economy (DME) of Asia-Pacific region.

These workshops will be based around specific themes in the general area of kinship and the economy. They will study the value question from the perspective of the DME in the Asia-Pacific region rather than being in the region. In other words, scholars who have worked in the UK on migrants from Asia and the Pacific would be most welcome.

The DME of the Asia-Pacific region

This research was funded by the ESRC (2011 to 2015). This project builds on the long term research in the region by the three co-applicants:

  • Chris Gregory (ANU and Manchester).
  • Fiona Magowan (Queens University Belfast).
  • Karen Sykes (Manchester).

Along with our Project Partner, Jon Altman (ANU) and continues to affiliate other scholars to it.

The aim is to create a community of researchers at different stages of their careers (graduates, postgraduates, established scholars). That can pursue their own theoretical agenda in a collaborative climate of debate and discussion, framed by the general question of value. 

Get in touch

Contact Prof Karen Sykes if you are:

  • interested in participating in this programme;
  • a graduate student interested in conducting fieldwork on the topic;
  • a doctoral student or Early Career Researcher who has carried out fieldwork in the area of kinship and the economy.