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Lehman Brothers, Racial Capital and the Geographic Case for Reparations

Authors: Joshua Inwood*, Pennsylvania State University, Anna Livia Brand, University of California Berkeley , Elise Quinn, The Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Political Geography, Ethnic Geography
Keywords: Slavery, Reparations, Financial Capital,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Lehman Brothers financial services corporation, as we argue, not only comes to define the contours of racial capital from slavery through segregation and more contemporary practices of predatory lending but by understanding the historical development, we advance the case for contemporary reparations. This not only incorporates broader discussions about infrastructure created by enslaved peoples but speaks to a more fundamental realization and understanding of how slavery gave rise to a range of financial practices and institutions that continue broader processes of capital exploitation. As we demonstrate, small business operators like the Lehman brothers pioneered a range of financial practices, including the bundling and packaging of debt, and the reselling of that debt foreshadows the contemporary financial landscape. In other words, the very foundations of the modern economy rest on the enslaved and the unfolding of the American political economy. As a result, this article speaks to broader issues of justice and reparations and debates.

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