What Is Collateral?: <i>On Legal Technique</i>

Annelise Riles

in Collateral Knowledge

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226719320
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226719344 | DOI:
What Is Collateral?: On Legal Technique

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Collateral sets the stage by introducing the lawyers and the documents in the back offices of derivatives units of global banks to consider what kind of knowledge and forms of subjectivity are being produced under the guise of “collateral.” The main function of collateral is to hold back risk, which simply means to place limits on the indeterminacies associated with social, political, economic, and temporal relations. How does collateral accomplish this? Collateral is sometimes a legal theory, sometimes a material object, sometimes a person, and sometimes an institution. In each case, however, collateral is a set of routinized knowledge practices. This chapter explores the role of these routinized practices in resolving or at least obviating the complex political and epistemological questions that surround derivatives trading. But rather than a smoothly oiled machine, collateral when seen from up close emerges as an assembly of glitches, of mistranslations, misunderstandings, and redundancies.

Keywords: collateral; legal knowledge; legal technique; technocracy; legal theory; global banks; back offices; lawyers; documents

Chapter.  22621 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Financial Markets

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