Bound by Default: Homeowners, Lenders, and the Enduring Debts of the American Foreclosure Crisis


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project explores how the 2007 US mortgage crash has altered the cultural and moral significance of debt. Drawing on archival and ethnographic work in California’s Sacramento Valley, a region devastated by foreclosures, this book analyzes confrontations between homeowners facing foreclosure and the bank employees adjudicating their appeals for assistance. Placing these protracted dramas within a historical context, this project indicates how the unraveling of US mortgage markets has unexpectedly recast financial transactions as social obligations, entailing mutuality and aid. It argues that this nascent view of the sociality of debt potentially undermines the ethos of late capitalist financial markets.