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65 5th Ave, Room 411
New York, NY, 10003
United States

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought at the New School incubates advanced transdisciplinary research and practice at the intersection of social theory and design and fosters dialogue on related themes across the university.


Mateusz Halawa

Mateusz Halawa is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at The New School for Social Research developing a cultural analysis of economic life through the rise of mortgage credit in Poland. 

MATEUSZ HALAWA is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at The New School for Social Research whose work focuses on the cultural analysis of economic life. He is currently writing on the rise of mortgage credit in Poland, looking at the relationship between social transformation and finance through a material, aesthetic, and sensual analysis of built environments and their inhabitants.

What a Mortgage Can Do: An Ethnography of the World-Making Capacities of a Financial Instrument explores the capacity of finance to create new possibilities in housing. The project considers the effects of the proliferation of mortgage-credit instruments in Warsaw, Poland, based on ethnographic fieldwork with families who financed their homes by signing long-term, adjustable-rate mortgage contracts denominated in Swiss francs. How does the curious practice of using a foreign currency to denominate terms in a mortgage contract facilitate the assembly of materials into a suburban house and transform dreams of having a home into the materiality of housing? In what ways does a mortgage make a world for its mortgagors?