© 2018

Magical Capitalism

Enchantment, Spells, and Occult Practices in Contemporary Economies

  • Brian Moeran
  • Timothy de Waal Malefyt

Table of contents

About this book


This volume of essays examines the ways in which magical practices are found in different aspects of contemporary capitalist societies. From contract law to science, by way of finance, business, marketing, advertising, cultural production, and the political economy in general, each chapter argues that the kind of magic studied by anthropologists in less developed societies – shamanism, sorcery, enchantment, the occult – is not only alive and well, but flourishing in the midst of so-called ‘modernity’. Modern day magicians range from fashion designers and architects to Donald Trump and George Soros. Magical rites take place in the form of political summits, the transformation of products into brands through advertising campaigns, and the biannual fashion collections shown in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Magical language, in the form of magical spells, is used by everyone, from media to marketers and all others devoted to the art of ‘spin’.

While magic may appear to be opposed to systems of rational economic thought, Moeran and Malefyt highlight the ways it may in fact be an accomplice to it.


Economic anthropology Economics of magic Economics of the occult Contemporary capitalism Occult economies Islamic finance Law and anthropology World Economic Forum meeting at Davos Fashion studies Marketing and consumer behaviour Occult Practices in Political Economy Ritual in Economy, Business, Law and Politics Magic capitalism Animism Shamanism Technologies of enchantment Central banking Austin’s theory of speech Magical language Occult practices in contemporary economies

Editors and affiliations

  • Brian Moeran
    • 1
  • Timothy de Waal Malefyt
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.Gabelli School of Business Fordham UniversityNew York, NYUSA

About the editors

Brian Moeran is an anthropologist who specialises in cultural production and Japan. He has, in his time, been a helicopter pilot in Her Britannic Majesty’s Royal Navy, a television comedian in Japan, and the first social scientist appointed to a Chair Professorship in language and literature at a UK university.

Timothy de Waal Malefyt is Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing at Gabelli Business School, Fordham University, USA. He is a corporate anthropologist who worked for 15 years in advertising agencies, including BBDO and D’Arcy. He blends consumer insights with anthropological theories, and is a former ballet dancer at the Joffrey. 

Bibliographic information

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