Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars
Johanna Mugler

Taxation and Sharing: Taxing the Digital Economy

Johanna Mugler, Swiss Federal University of Vocational Education
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Room S5, Maison de la paix, Geneva Graduate Institute

The Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars series is co-organized by the Anthropology and Sociology and International History and Politics Departments at the Institute to discuss global questions from historically and ethnographically-informed perspectives.

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This talk explores two questions: What type of monetary transfer are taxes and how do countries share the taxing rights to the globally produced profits of multinational corporations in the 21st century? She argues that the process of international tax negotiations at the OECD in Paris, which she followed ethnographically between 2014 and 2019 at the OECD, but also at international tax events worldwide, is constituted in modes that consider the relatedness people express, the tax conversations they have and how presence is understood in this field. In summary she reflects upon the broader relevance of why it matters whether we conceptualize taxes with notions of reciprocity, exchange or as uni-directional transfers.

About the speaker

Johanna Mugler is a Senior Researcher at the Swiss Federal University of Vocational Education in Bern. Before that she worked at the University of Bern as a lecturer and researcher and was a PhD Candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale. Her work focuses on issues of accountability, distribution, and division of labor ("Who gets what, from whom, when and how? And by whose rules and determination?"). She is currently writing her second book "Sharing Global Profits. Negotiating Tax Expertise, Value and Access at the OECD". It is both an account of a specific contemporary tax conflict—Taxing the Digital Economy in the 21st century—and the people, networks and institutions that shape it, and a theorization of more general forms and processes that facilitate capitalist projects worldwide—by that she treats international tax norms as part of the "Code of Capitalism". She is the co-editor of the volume "Anthropology of Taxation", together with Miranda Sheild Johansson and Robin Smith (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press) and the co-editor of a Special Issue ("Against Structural Postponement: On the Legitimacy and Possibilities of New Institutions of Sharing" together with Julia Eckert, in preparation for Anthropological Theory). She is also the author of: Measuring Justice. Quantitative Accountability and the National Prosecuting Authority, Cambridge University Press, 2019; and A World of Indicators. The Making of Governmental Knowledge Through Quantification, Cambridge University Press. 2015, edited together with Sally Engle Merry, Sung-Joon Park and Richard Rottenburg.

The Joint ANSO / IHP Tuesday Seminars is a regular series of discussions co-organized by the International History and Politics and Anthropology and Sociology Departments at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies to discuss a variety of global questions from a multiplicity of historically and ethnographically-informed perspectives.

The Seminars take place every Tuesday from 16:15 to 18:00 in Seminar Room 5 (S5) at the Graduate Institute (Maison de la paix), and are followed by an apero open to the attending public. Connect to this week's seminar online using the event password V2Qu2gkQpF8.