I'm an anthropologist and ethnographer—of money, technology, bureaucracy, and everyday economic and political life, especially in Latin America.


I currently work as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of California, Irvine and serve as Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Cultural Economy. I received my PhD in Anthropology from UCI in 2015.

I study how people make and maintain alternative or experimental economies. My book project, After Neoliberalism: Solidarity Economies in Quito, Ecuador, examines—from policy to practice—efforts to reimagine "the social" as an alternative to neoliberalism. It draws on several years of fieldwork with urban market vendors, family and neighborhood savings groups, development experts, and government officials in and around Quito, Ecuador.

I think a lot about technologies of money and law, everyday financial practice, financial exclusion and financial justice, work and exhaustion, material cultures of trust, the spread of disintermediation ideologies, colonial and postcolonial histories of sovereignty and value, marketplace infrastructures, statistical and non-statistical evaluation in baseball scouting cultures, speculative and science fiction, street dogs, and bureaucracy as a kind of care.

I have consulted, contracted, and otherwise collaborated on projects about money and technology with organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Filene Research Institute, Glenbrook Partners, Samsung, BFA, Intel, and the Orange County federal bankruptcy court, as well as visiting delegations of international legal, finance, and security professionals, including the Chief Justice of Malaysia.

I am a founding member of the Future of Money Research Collaborative. Read about our work here.

Email me at tnelms at uci dot edu.