Professor Hoang's lecture in a classroom at WashU

Global Futures Lecture with Professor Kimberly Kay Hoang

Earlier this month, Professor Kimberly Kay Hoang kicked off our Global Futures lectures and workshop series with a talk on "Spiderweb Capitalism: How Global Elites Exploit Frontier Markets.” Spiderweb Capitalism adopts a sociologist’s take on how global elites exploit frontier markets.

In her talk, Hoang uncovered the structure of Spiderweb Capitalism, a web of subsidiaries interconnected across multiple sovereigns and mass private accumulations of wealth. These flows of capital are complex and circuitous. As a sociologist, Hoang maintained her focus on the people moving and making money. She traveled 350,000 miles, interviewing over 300 individuals to expose a system of “Big Spiders” and “Small Spiders” connected by their networks of financial professionals. Hoang recounts a story of impunity, corruption, and fraud, a business where “you gotta play in the gray”—otherwise, you won’t play.

Hoang is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the College at the University of Chicago, where she also acts as the Director of Global Studies. During our first Global Futures workshop, we began to discuss the role of Global Studies in an interdisciplinary liberal arts education. Hoang shared invaluable insights regarding Global Studies at the University of Chicago, comparing it to WashU’s Global Studies Program—all while tackling the definition of Global Studies as such a broad and interdisciplinary program. We realize that this broad-ranging scope of Global Studies is what makes it so unique. In an increasingly interconnected world, complex issues require a global perspective. Our vision is to turn Global Studies into an interdisciplinary space where we can explore such creative and diverse approaches.