Speaker: Lorenzo Fioramonti

Value That Can't be Counted

Lorenzo Fioramonti is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where he directs the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation. He is also Senior Fellow at the Centre for Social Investment of the University of Heidelberg and at the Hertie School of Governance (Germany) and Associate Fellow at the United Nations University. His research interests range from alternative economic paradigms to the governance of the commons, global political innovations and new forms of supranational regionalism.

Prof. Fioramonti is the author of 9 books, the most recent of which are How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics (Zed Books 2014) and Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number (Zed Books 2013, recipient of the UP Best Book of the Year Award 2014), which deal with the political interests behind economic statistics and market governance. He is a champion of WE7 (Well-being Economies) over G7, and a critic of measuring progress solely through GDP.

The Hedgehog Review called Gross Domestic Problem one three most influential books on the gross domestic product published in the 21st century. According to Public Books, Fioramonti’s research shows that “the reliance on GDP derives from a technocratic worldview that glorifies experts, corrodes communal values, and devalues the natural world.” For the LSE Review of Books, his research is a kind of “psychopath’s guide to bullying the world by numbers”, unmasking the pretention that “everything is ‘rational’, ‘independent’ and ‘objective’ and building fortresses of power around these intentional misrepresentations.”

Prof. Fioramonti is the founder of the Action Research Network for a Wellbeing Economy in Africa (WE-Africa), an alliance of scholars and practitioners committed to calling into question the conventional development paradigm based on exploitation of nature, continuous production and consumption and privatization of common resources. He is the first and only Jean Monnet Chair in Africa, a prestigious recognition awarded by the European Commission to distinguished academics in the field of regional integration studies. He also holds the UNESCO-UNU Chair in Regional Integration, Migration and Free Movement of People. In 2012, Prof. Fioramonti received the University of Pretoria Exceptional Young Researcher Award.

Prof. Fioramonti’s opinion pieces have been published by, among others, The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Business Day, Die Presse, Das Parlament, Der Freitag, The Mail & Guardian and www.opendemocracy.net.

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