Lana Swartz

Lana Swartz

Media studies expert, 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow

Biography

Lana Swartz is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Her new book, New Money: How Payment Became Social Media (Yale, 2020) looks at cash and cryptocurrency, Visa and Venmo to offer a new way to think about money: as a medium of communication that is shaped by technology and technological change—and by the cultures and politics that, in turn, shape technology. Currently, she is collecting qualitative data on the role of social media, fintech, and traditional financial institutions in the experience of small businesses during COVID-19. At Berggruen, she plans to work on a new project that seeks to understand—and trouble—the cultural meaning of financial scams in the digital age. Scams, she argues, are capitalism out of place: what we call a scam is used to perform boundary work that delegitimates certain forms of economic activity (and exploitation) and legitimates others. The Internet has proven to be fertile ground for both the cultivation of a world in which scams make sense and the diffusion of scams themselves. This book is envisioned as both a shadow history of the digital economy and a history of the shadow digital economy.