In the late 1970s, a Jeff Koons art exhibit featured mounted vacuum cleaners lit by fluorescent tube lighting and identified by their product names: New Hoover Quik Broom, New Hoover Celebrity IV. Raymond Carver published short stories such as “Are These Actual Miles?” that cataloged the furniture, portable air conditioners, and children’s bicycles in a family home. Some years later the garbage barge Mobro 4000 turned into an international scandal as it spent months at sea, unable to dump its trash as it was refused by port after port.
Tim Jelfs’s The Argument about Things in the 1980s considers all this and more in a broad study of the literature and culture of the “long 1980s.” It contributes to of-the-moment scholarly debate about material culture, high finance, and ecological degradation, shedding new light on the complex relationship between neoliberalism and cultural life.
Bertolt Brecht once worried that our sympathy for the victims of a social problem can make the problem’s “beauty and attraction” invisible. In The Beauty of a Social Problem, Walter Benn Michaels explores the effort to overcome this difficulty through a study of several contemporary artist-photographers whose work speaks to questions of political economy.
Although he discusses well-known figures like Walker Evans and Jeff Wall, Michaels’s focus is on a group of younger artists, including Viktoria Binschtok, Phil Chang, Liz Deschenes, and Arthur Ou. All born after 1965, they have always lived in a world where, on the one hand, artistic ambition has been synonymous with the critique of autonomous form and intentional meaning, while, on the other, the struggle between capital and labor has essentially been won by capital. Contending that the aesthetic and political conditions are connected, Michaels argues that these artists’ new commitment to form and meaning is a way for them to depict the conditions that have taken US economic inequality from its lowest level, in 1968, to its highest level today. As Michaels demonstrates, these works of art, unimaginable without the postmodern critique of autonomy and intentionality, end up departing and dissenting from that critique in continually interesting and innovative ways.
In the neoliberal era, when human worth is measured by its relative utility within global consumer culture, selected disabled people have been able to gain entrance into late capitalist culture. The Biopolitics of Disability terms this phenomenon “ablenationalism” and asserts that “inclusion” becomes meaningful only if disability is recognized as providing modes of living that are alternatives to governing norms of productivity and independence. Thus, the book pushes beyond questions of impairment to explore how disability subjectivities create new forms of embodied knowledge and collective consciousness. The focus is on the emergence of new crip/queer subjectivities at work in disability arts, disability studies pedagogy, independent and mainstream disability cinema (e.g., Midnight Cowboy), internet-based medical user groups, anti-normative novels of embodiment (e.g., Richard Powers’s The Echo-Maker) and, finally, the labor of living in “non-productive” bodies within late capitalism.
India’s global success in the Information Technology industry has also prompted the growth of neoliberalism and the re-emergence of the middle class in contemporary urban areas, such as Bangalore. In her significant study, BITS of Belonging, Simanti Dasgupta shows that this economic shift produces new forms of social inequality while reinforcing older ones. She investigates this economic disparity by looking at IT and water privatization to explain how these otherwise unrelated domains correspond to our thinking about citizenship, governance, and belonging.
Dasgupta’s ethnographic study shows how work and human processes in the IT industry intertwine to meet the market stipulations of the global economy. Meanwhile, in the recasting of water from a public good to a commodity, the middle class insists on a governance and citizenship model based upon market participation. Dasgupta provides a critical analysis of the grassroots activism involved in a contested water project where different classes lay their divergent claims to the city.
The 1960s, including the black social movements of the period, are an obstacle to understanding the current conditions of African Americans, argues Clarence Lang. While Americans celebrate the current anniversaries of various black freedom milestones and the election of the first black president, the effects of neoliberalism since the 1970s have been particularly devastating to African Americans. Neoliberalism, which rejects social welfare protections in favor of individual liberty, unfettered markets, and a laissez-faire national state, has produced an environment in which people of color struggle with unstable employment, declining family income, rising household debt, increased class stratification, and heightened racial terrorism and imprisonment. The book argues that a reassessment of the Sixties and its legacies is necessary to make better sense of black community, leadership, politics, and the prospects for social change today. Combining interdisciplinary scholarship, political reportage, and personal reflection, this work sheds powerful light on the forces underlying the stark social and economic circumstances facing African Americans today, as well as the need for cautious optimism alongside sober analysis.
In the wake of U.S. military intervention abroad and collapsing domestic economies, scholars have turned their attention to neoliberalism and militarization, two ideological and material projects that are often treated as coincident, though not interdependent. Bodies at War examines neoliberal militarism, a term that signifies the complex ways in which neoliberalism and militarism interanimate each other as they naturalize dis/empowering notions of masculinity and femininity, alter democratic practices, and circumscribe the meaning of citizenship and national belonging.
Bodies at War examines the rise of neoliberal militarism from the early 1970s to the present and its transformation of political, economic, and social relations. It charts neoliberal militarism’s impact on democratic practices, economic policies, notions of citizenship, race relations, and gender norms by focusing on how these changes affect the Chicana/o community and, more specifically, on how it shapes and is shaped by Chicana bodies. The book raises important questions about the cultural legacies of war and the gendering of violence—topics that reach across multiple disciplinary fields of inquiry, including cultural and media studies. It draws attention to the relationship between war and society, to neoliberal militarism’s destructive social impact, and to the future of Latina soldiering. Through Chicana art, activism, and writing, Rincón offers a visionary foundation for an antiwar feminist politic.
Broken Souths offers the first in-depth study of the diverse field of contemporary Latina/o poetry. Its innovative angle of approach puts Latina/o and Latin American poets into sustained conversation in original and rewarding ways. In addition, author Michael Dowdy presents ecocritical readings that foreground the environmental dimensions of current Latina/o poetics.
Dowdy argues that a transnational Latina/o imaginary has emerged in response to neoliberalism—the free-market philosophy that underpins what many in the northern hemisphere refer to as “globalization.” His work examines how poets represent the places that have been “broken” by globalization’s political, economic, and environmental upheavals. Broken Souths locates the roots of the new imaginary in 1968, when the Mexican student movement crested and the Chicano and Nuyorican movements emerged in the United States. It theorizes that Latina/o poetics negotiates tensions between the late 1960s’ oppositional, collective identities and the present day’s radical individualisms and discourses of assimilation, including the “post-colonial,” “post-national,” and “post-revolutionary.” Dowdy is particularly interested in how Latina/o poetics reframes debates in cultural studies and critical geography on the relation between place, space, and nature.
Broken Souths features discussions of Latina/o writers such as Victor Hernández Cruz, Martín Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcos McPeek Villatoro, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jack Agüeros, Marjorie Agosín, Valerie Martínez, and Ariel Dorfman, alongside discussions of influential Latin American writers, including Roberto Bolaño, Ernesto Cardenal, David Huerta, José Emilio Pacheco, and Raúl Zurita.
Brokered Subjects digs deep into the accepted narratives of sex trafficking to reveal the troubling assumptions that have shaped both right- and left-wing agendas around sexual violence. Drawing on years of in-depth fieldwork, Elizabeth Bernstein sheds light not only on trafficking but also on the broader structures that meld the ostensible pursuit of liberation with contemporary techniques of power. Rather than any meaningful commitment to the safety of sex workers, Bernstein argues, what lies behind our current vision of trafficking victims is a transnational mix of putatively humanitarian militaristic interventions, feel-good capitalism, and what she terms carceral feminism: a feminism compatible with police batons.
Capital at the Brink reveals the pervasiveness, destructiveness, and dominance of neoliberalism within American society and culture. The contributors to this collection also offer points of resistance to an ideology wherein, to borrow Henry Giroux’s comment, “everything either is for sale or is plundered for profit.” The first step in fighting neoliberalism is to make it visible. By discussing various inroads that it has made into political, popular, and literary culture, Capital at the Brink is taking this first step and joining a global resistance that works against neoliberalism by revealing the variety of ways in which it dominates and destroys various dimensions of our social and cultural life.
The familiar old world of classical music, with its wealthy donors and ornate concert halls, is changing. The patronage of a wealthy few is being replaced by that of corporations, leading to new unions of classical music and contemporary capitalism. In Composing Capital, Marianna Ritchey lays bare the appropriation of classical music by the current neoliberal regime, arguing that artists, critics, and institutions have aligned themselves—and, by extension, classical music itself—with free-market ideology. More specifically, she demonstrates how classical music has lent its cachet to marketing schemes, tech firm–sponsored performances, and global corporate partnerships. As Ritchey shows, the neoliberalization of classical music has put music at the service of contemporary capitalism, blurring the line between creativity and entrepreneurship, and challenging us to imagine how a noncommodified musical practice might be possible in today’s world.
Employing original fieldwork, historical analysis, and sociological theory, Sekine and Bonanno probe how Japan’s food and agriculture sectors have been shaped by the global push toward privatization and corporate power, known in the social science literature as neoliberalism. They also examine related changes that have occurred after the triple disaster of March 2011 (the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor), noting that reconstruction policy has favored deregulation and the reduction of social welfare.
Sekine and Bonanno stress the incompatibility of the requirements of neoliberalism with the structural and cultural conditions of Japanese agri-food. Local farmers’ and fishermen’s emphasis on community collective management of natural resources, they argue, clashes with neoliberalism’s focus on individualism and competitiveness. The authors conclude by pointing out the resulting fundamental contradiction: The lack of recognition of this incompatibility allows the continuous implementation of market solutions to problems that originate in these very market mechanisms.
The Crisis of Neoliberalism
Gérard Duménil Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress HB3717 2008.D86 2010 | Dewey Decimal 330.973
This is a work of empirical economics, in which Dumenil and Levy adduce a wide range of evidence to argue that capitalism has entered a phase characterized by rapid technological change, increasing returns to capital, and financial instability. While the authors focus on the interpretation of contemporary capitalism, they also integrate an historical perspective, showing that in the immediate post-World-War II era from 1945 till 1975, now considered a golden age of capitalism in which economic growth was high, inflation low, and income inequality decreasing, returns to capital decreased. In the 1970s this trend reversed, and real interest rates started rising, returns to capital increased, and income inequality widened. This cycle occurred in earlier eras, including one that began in the late nineteenth century and ended in The Great Depression. The authors argue that the similarity between the late nineteenth early 20th century and the past two decades is remarkable. Following the depression of the 1890s, more favorable profitability trends were established as a result of the managerial revolution, in the context of the original assertion of the political and economic hegemony of finance. This course of capitalism culminated in The Great Depression. Will the second hegemony of finance end as the first one did in collapse? The authors do not conclude that a crisis similar to the Great Depression is on the agenda, but a major adjustment will be required. Whether it is a new phase of neoliberalism or a new distinct social order is an open question.
Ecuador is the third-largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the western United States. As the source of this oil, the Ecuadorian Amazon has borne the far-reaching social and environmental consequences of a growing U.S. demand for petroleum and the dynamics of economic globalization it necessitates. Crude Chronicles traces the emergence during the 1990s of a highly organized indigenous movement and its struggles against a U.S. oil company and Ecuadorian neoliberal policies. Against the backdrop of mounting government attempts to privatize and liberalize the national economy, Suzana Sawyer shows how neoliberal reforms in Ecuador led to a crisis of governance, accountability, and representation that spurred one of twentieth-century Latin America’s strongest indigenous movements.
Through her rich ethnography of indigenous marches, demonstrations, occupations, and negotiations, Sawyer tracks the growing sophistication of indigenous politics as Indians subverted, re-deployed, and, at times, capitulated to the dictates and desires of a transnational neoliberal logic. At the same time, she follows the multiple maneuvers and discourses that the multinational corporation and the Ecuadorian state used to circumscribe and contain indigenous opposition. Ultimately, Sawyer reveals that indigenous struggles over land and oil operations in Ecuador were as much about reconfiguring national and transnational inequality—that is, rupturing the silence around racial injustice, exacting spaces of accountability, and rewriting narratives of national belonging—as they were about the material use and extraction of rain-forest resources.
Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies is an impassioned call for the realization of a progressive left politics in the United States. Through an assessment of the ideologies underlying contemporary political culture, Jodi Dean takes the left to task for its capitulations to conservatives and its failure to take responsibility for the extensive neoliberalization implemented during the Clinton presidency. She argues that the left’s ability to develop and defend a collective vision of equality and solidarity has been undermined by the ascendance of “communicative capitalism,” a constellation of consumerism, the privileging of the self over group interests, and the embrace of the language of victimization. As Dean explains, communicative capitalism is enabled and exacerbated by the Web and other networked communications media, which reduce political energies to the registration of opinion and the transmission of feelings. The result is a psychotic politics where certainty displaces credibility and the circulation of intense feeling trumps the exchange of reason.
Dean’s critique ranges from her argument that the term democracy has become a meaningless cipher invoked by the left and right alike to an analysis of the fantasy of free trade underlying neoliberalism, and from an examination of new theories of sovereignty advanced by politicians and left academics to a look at the changing meanings of “evil” in the speeches of U.S. presidents since the mid-twentieth century. She emphasizes the futility of a politics enacted by individuals determined not to offend anyone, and she examines questions of truth, knowledge, and power in relation to 9/11 conspiracy theories. Dean insists that any reestablishment of a vital and purposeful left politics will require shedding the mantle of victimization, confronting the marriage of neoliberalism and democracy, and mobilizing different terms to represent political strategies and goals.
Through window displays, newspapers, soap operas, gay bars, and other public culture venues, Chinese citizens are negotiating what it means to be cosmopolitan citizens of the world, with appropriate needs, aspirations, and longings. Lisa Rofel argues that the creation of such “desiring subjects” is at the core of China’s contingent, piece-by-piece reconfiguration of its relationship to a post-socialist world. In a study at once ethnographic, historical, and theoretical, she contends that neoliberal subjectivities are created through the production of various desires—material, sexual, and affective—and that it is largely through their engagements with public culture that people in China are imagining and practicing appropriate desires for the post-Mao era.
Drawing on her research over the past two decades among urban residents and rural migrants in Hangzhou and Beijing, Rofel analyzes the meanings that individuals attach to various public cultural phenomena and what their interpretations say about their understandings of post-socialist China and their roles within it. She locates the first broad-based public debate about post-Mao social changes in the passionate dialogues about the popular 1991 television soap opera Yearnings. She describes how the emergence of gay identities and practices in China reveals connections to a transnational network of lesbians and gay men at the same time that it brings urban/rural and class divisions to the fore. The 1999–2001 negotiations over China’s entry into the World Trade Organization; a controversial women’s museum; the ways that young single women portray their longings in relation to the privations they imagine their mothers experienced; adjudications of the limits of self-interest in court cases related to homoerotic desire, intellectual property, and consumer fraud—Rofel reveals all of these as sites where desiring subjects come into being.
Dialectical Imaginaries brings together essays that analyze the effects of class conflict and capitalist ideology on contemporary works of U.S. Latino/a literature. The editors argue that recent global events have compelled contemporary scholars to reexamine traditional interpretive models that center on identity politics and an ethics of multiculturalism. The volume seeks to demonstrate that materialist methodologies have a greater critical reach than other methods, and that Latino/a literary criticism should be more attuned to interpretive approaches that draw on Marxism and other globalizing social theories. The contributors analyze a wide range of literary works in fiction, poetry, drama, and memoir by writers including Rudolfo Anaya, Gloria Anzaldúa, Daniel Borzutzky, Angie Cruz, Sergio de la Pava, Mónica de la Torre, Sergio Elizondo, Juan Felipe Herrera, Rolando Hinojosa, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Óscar Martínez, Cherríe Moraga, Urayoán Noel, Emma Pérez, Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, Ernesto Quiñónez, Ronald Ruiz, Hector Tobar, Rodrigo Toscano, Alfredo Véa, Helena María Viramontes, and others.
Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was the first anti-neoliberal presidential candidate to win in the region. Electing Chávez examines the circumstances that facilitated this pivotal election. By 1998, Venezuela had been rocked by two major scandals—the exchange rate incidents of the 1980s and the banking crisis of 1994—and had suffered rising social inequality. These events created a deep-seated distrust of establishment politicians. Chávez’s 1998 victory, however, was far from inevitable. Other presidential candidates also stood against corruption and promised a clean break from politics as usual. Moreover, business opposition to Chávez’s anti-neoliberal candidacy should have convinced voters that his victory would provoke a downward economic spiral.
In Electing Chávez, Leslie C. Gates examines how Chávez won over voters and even obtained the secret allegiance of a group of business “elite outliers,” with a reinterpretation of the relationship between business and the state during Venezuela’s era of two-party dominance (1959-1998). Through extensive research on corruption and the backgrounds of political leaders.
Gates tracks the rise of business-related corruption scandals and documents how business became identified with Venezuela’s political establishment. These trends undermined the public’s trust in business and converted business opposition into an asset for Chávez. This long history of business-tied politicians and the scandals they often provoked also framed the decisions of elite outliers. As Gates reveals, elite outliers supported Chávez despite his anti-neoliberal stance because they feared that the success of Chávez’s main rival would deny them access to Venezuela’s powerful oil state.
Entrepreneurial Selves is an ethnography of neoliberalism. Bridging political economy and affect studies, Carla Freeman turns a spotlight on the entrepreneur, a figure saluted across the globe as the very embodiment of neoliberalism. Steeped in more than a decade of ethnography on the emergent entrepreneurial middle class of Barbados, she finds dramatic reworkings of selfhood, intimacy, labor, and life amid the rumbling effects of political-economic restructuring. She shows us that the déjà vu of neoliberalism, the global hailing of entrepreneurial flexibility and its concomitant project of self-making, can only be grasped through the thickness of cultural specificity where its costs and pleasures are unevenly felt. Freeman theorizes postcolonial neoliberalism by reimagining the Caribbean cultural model of 'reputation-respectability.' This remarkable book will allow readers to see how the material social practices formerly associated with resistance to capitalism (reputation) are being mobilized in ways that sustain neoliberal precepts and, in so doing, re-map class, race, and gender through a new emotional economy.
Feminist Experiences develops and defends a distinctive understanding of feminist philosophy as social critique. Feminist philosophy is essentially a political endeavor, Johanna Oksala argues, aiming to expose, analyze, and ultimately change gendered power relations. However, such an understanding of feminist philosophy raises a host of theoretical problems and paradoxes. Oksala investigates the philosophical challenges and outlines the ontological presuppositions and methodological innovations the project requires.
Drawing on conceptual tools from the thought of Michel Foucault, but also from the tradition of phenomenology, she explores the role of experience in feminist philosophy and its relationship to language and linguistic meaning. Oksala concludes by sketching a feminist ontology of the present through a critical investigation of neoliberalism and the challenges it presents to feminist theory and politics.
In The Fragility of Things, eminent theorist William E. Connolly focuses on several self-organizing ecologies that help to constitute our world. These interacting geological, biological, and climate systems, some of which harbor creative capacities, are depreciated by that brand of neoliberalism that confines self-organization to economic markets and equates the latter with impersonal rationality. Neoliberal practice thus fails to address the fragilities it exacerbates. Engaging a diverse range of thinkers, from Friedrich Hayek, Michel Foucault, Hesiod, and Immanuel Kant to Voltaire, Terrence Deacon, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Alfred North Whitehead, Connolly brings the sense of fragility alive as he rethinks the idea of freedom. Urging the Left not to abandon the state but to reclaim it, he also explores scales of politics below and beyond the state. The contemporary response to fragility requires a militant pluralist assemblage composed of those sharing affinities of spirituality across differences of creed, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.
One of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s proudest accomplishments is his expansion of the Work Experience Program, which uses welfare recipients to do routine work once done by unionized city workers. The fact that WEP workers are denied the legal status of employees and make far less money and enjoy fewer rights than do city workers has sparked fierce opposition. For antipoverty activists, legal advocates, unions, and other critics of the program this double standard begs a troubling question: are workfare participants workers or welfare recipients?
At times the fight over workfare unfolded as an argument over who had the authority to define these terms, and in Free Labor, John Krinsky focuses on changes in the language and organization of the political coalitions on either side of the debate. Krinsky’s broadly interdisciplinary analysis draws from interviews, official documents, and media reports to pursue new directions in the study of the cultural and cognitive aspects of political activism. Free Labor will instigate a lively dialogue among students of culture, labor and social movements, welfare policy, and urban political economy.
During the 1970s in the United States, hundreds of feminist, queer, and antiracist activists were imprisoned or became fugitives as they fought the changing contours of U.S. imperialism, global capitalism, and a repressive racial state. In Fugitive Life Stephen Dillon examines these activists' communiqués, films, memoirs, prison writing, and poetry to highlight the centrality of gender and sexuality to a mode of racialized power called the neoliberal-carceral state. Drawing on writings by Angela Davis, the George Jackson Brigade, Assata Shakur, the Weather Underground, and others, Dillon shows how these activists were among the first to theorize and make visible the links between conservative "law and order" rhetoric, free market ideology, incarceration, sexism, and the continued legacies of slavery. Dillon theorizes these prisoners and fugitives as queer figures who occupied a unique position from which to highlight how neoliberalism depended upon racialized mass incarceration. In so doing, he articulates a vision of fugitive freedom in which the work of these activists becomes foundational to undoing the reign of the neoliberal-carceral state.
A bold and provocative look at how the nonprofit sphere’s expansion has helped—and hindered—the LGBT cause
What if the very structure on which social movements rely, the nonprofit system, is reinforcing the inequalities activists seek to eliminate? That is the question at the heart of this bold reassessment of the system’s massive expansion since the mid-1960s. Focusing on the LGBT movement, Myrl Beam argues that the conservative turn in queer movement politics, as exemplified by the shift toward marriage and legal equality, is due mostly to the movement’s embrace of the nonprofit structure.
Based on oral histories as well as archival research, and drawing on the author’s own extensive activist work, Gay, Inc. presents four compelling case studies. Beam looks at how people at LGBT nonprofits in Minneapolis and Chicago grapple with the contradictions between radical queer social movements and their institutionalized iterations. Through interview subjects’ incisive, funny, and heartbreaking commentaries, Beam exposes a complex world of committed people doing the best they can to effect change, and the flawed structures in which they participate, rail against, ignore, and make do.
Providing a critical look at a social formation whose sanctified place in the national imagination has for too long gone unquestioned, Gay, Inc. marks a significant contribution to scholarship on sexuality, neoliberalism, and social movements.
In Give a Man a Fish James Ferguson examines the rise of social welfare programs in southern Africa, in which states make cash payments to their low income citizens. More than thirty percent of South Africa's population receive such payments, even as pundits elsewhere proclaim the neoliberal death of the welfare state. These programs' successes at reducing poverty under conditions of mass unemployment, Ferguson argues, provide an opportunity for rethinking contemporary capitalism and for developing new forms of political mobilization. Interested in an emerging "politics of distribution," Ferguson shows how new demands for direct income payments (including so-called "basic income") require us to reexamine the relation between production and distribution, and to ask new questions about markets, livelihoods, labor, and the future of progressive politics.
Global Diffusion of Protest
Edited by Donatella della Porta Amsterdam University Press, 2017 Library of Congress HM883.G58 2017 | Dewey Decimal 303.484
Recent years have seen a new development in the growth and spread of popular protest: protests that began as local, homogeneous events-such as Occupy Wall Street or the protests of the Arab Spring-quickly left their original locations and local specificity behind and became global. This book looks at the development of this wave of protests, with an eye on protests against austerity and neoliberal economic policies, and offers a global view, covering events in Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and other locations.
Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, Quinn Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.
Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions—the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law—to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.
Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it.
The story of sex tourism in the Gringo Gulch neighborhood of San José, Costa Rica could be easily cast as the exploitation of poor local women by privileged North American men—men who are in a position to take advantage of the vast geopolitical inequalities that make Latin American women into suppliers of low-cost sexual labor. But in Gringo Gulch, Megan Rivers-Moore tells a more nuanced story, demonstrating that all the actors intimately entangled in the sex tourism industry—sex workers, sex tourists, and the state—use it as a strategy for getting ahead.
Rivers-Moore situates her ethnography at the intersections of gender, race, class, and national dimensions in the sex industry. Instead of casting sex workers as hapless victims and sex tourists as neoimperialist racists, she reveals each group as involved in a complicated process of class mobility that must be situated within the sale and purchase of leisure and sex. These interactions operate within an almost entirely unregulated but highly competitive market beyond the reach of the state—bringing a distinctly neoliberal cast to the market. Throughout the book, Rivers-Moore introduces us to remarkable characters—Susan, a mother of two who doesn’t regret her career of sex work; Barry, a teacher and father of two from Virginia who travels to Costa Rica to escape his loveless, sexless marriage; Nancy, a legal assistant in the Department of Labor who is shocked to find out that prostitution is legal and still unregulated. Gringo Gulch is a fascinating and groundbreaking look at sex tourism, Latin America, and the neoliberal state.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was one of the deadliest disasters in modern history, sparking an international aid response—with pledges and donations of $16 billion—that was exceedingly generous. But now, five years later, that generous aid has clearly failed. In Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti, anthropologist Mark Schuller captures the voices of those involved in the earthquake aid response, and they paint a sharp, unflattering view of the humanitarian enterprise.
Schuller led an independent study of eight displaced-persons camps in Haiti, compiling more than 150 interviews ranging from Haitian front-line workers and camp directors to foreign humanitarians and many displaced Haitian people. The result is an insightful account of why the multi-billion-dollar aid response not only did little to help but also did much harm, triggering a range of unintended consequences, rupturing Haitian social and cultural institutions, and actually increasing violence, especially against women. The book shows how Haitian people were removed from any real decision-making, replaced by a top-down, NGO-dominated system of humanitarian aid, led by an army of often young, inexperienced foreign workers. Ignorant of Haitian culture, these aid workers unwittingly enacted policies that triggered a range of negative results. Haitian interviewees also note that the NGOs “planted the flag,” and often tended to “just do something,” always with an eye to the “photo op” (in no small part due to the competition over funding). Worse yet, they blindly supported the eviction of displaced people from the camps, forcing earthquake victims to relocate in vast shantytowns that were hotbeds of violence.
Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti concludes with suggestions to help improve humanitarian aid in the future, perhaps most notably, that aid workers listen to—and respect the culture of—the victims of catastrophe.
Bloody, fiery spectacles—the Challenger disaster, 9/11, JFK’s assassination—have given us moments of catastrophe that make it easy to answer the “where were you when” question and shape our ways of seeing what came before and after. Why are these spectacles so packed with meaning?
In The Iconoclastic Imagination, Ned O’Gorman approaches each of these moments as an image of icon-destruction that give us distinct ways to imagine social existence in American life. He argues that the Cold War gave rise to crises in political, aesthetic, and political-aesthetic representations. Locating all of these crises within a “neoliberal imaginary,” O’Gorman explains that since the Kennedy assassination, the most powerful way to see “America” has been in the destruction of representative American symbols or icons. This, in turn, has profound implications for a neoliberal economy, social philosophy, and public policy. Richly interwoven with philosophical, theological, and rhetorical traditions, the book offers a new foundation for a complex and innovative approach to studying Cold War America, political theory, and visual culture.
Inan Abusive State puts forth a powerful argument: that the feminist campaign to stop sexual violence has entered into a problematic alliance with the neoliberal state. Kristin Bumiller chronicles the evolution of this alliance by examining the history of the anti-violence campaign, the production of cultural images about sexual violence, professional discourses on intimate violence, and the everyday lives of battered women. She also scrutinizes the rhetoric of high-profile rape trials and the expansion of feminist concerns about sexual violence into the international human-rights arena. In the process, Bumiller reveals how the feminist fight against sexual violence has been shaped over recent decades by dramatic shifts in welfare policies, incarceration rates, and the surveillance role of social-service bureaucracies.
Drawing on archival research, individual case studies, testimonies of rape victims, and interviews with battered women, Bumiller raises fundamental concerns about the construction of sexual violence as a social problem. She describes how placing the issue of sexual violence on the public agenda has polarized gender- and race-based interests. She contends that as the social welfare state has intensified regulation and control, the availability of services for battered women and rape victims has become increasingly linked to their status as victims and their ability to recognize their problems in medical and psychological terms. Bumiller suggests that to counteract these tendencies, sexual violence should primarily be addressed in the context of communities and in terms of its links to social disadvantage. In an Abusive State is an impassioned call for feminists to reflect on how the co-optation of their movement by the neoliberal state creates the potential to inadvertently harm impoverished women and support punitive and racially based crime control efforts.
Many immigrant communities along the U.S. border with Mexico are colonias, border settlements lacking infrastructure or safe housing. A Jumble of Needs examines the leadership of Mexican women immigrants in three colonias in New Mexico, documenting the role of NGOs in shaping women’s activism in these communities. Ethnographer Rebecca Dolhinow, who worked in the colonias, uncovers why such attempts to exercise political agency are so rarely successful.
Central to the relationship between NGOs and women activists in colonias, Dolhinow argues, is the looming presence of the neoliberal political project. In particular, the discourses of caretaking that NGOs use to recruit women into leadership positions simultaneously naturalize and depoliticize the activist work that these women do in their communities. Dolhinow discovers the connections between colonias as isolated communities and colonia leaders as political subjects who unintentionally reinforce neoliberal policy. In the long run, she finds, any politicization that might take place is limited to the women leaders and seldom involves the community as a whole.
Surprisingly, Dolhinow reveals, many NGOs promote neoliberal ideals, resulting in continued disenfranchisement, despite the women’s activism to better their lives, families, and communities.
Latinx Theater in the Times of Neoliberalism traces how Latinx theater in the United States has engaged with the policies, procedures, and outcomes of neoliberal economics in the Americas from the 1970s to the present.
Patricia A. Ybarra examines IMF interventions, NAFTA, shifts in immigration policy, the escalation of border industrialization initiatives, and austerity programs. She demonstrates how these policies have created the conditions for many of the most tumultuous events in the Americas in the last forty years, including dictatorships in the Southern Cone; the 1994 Cuban Rafter Crisis; femicides in Juárez, Mexico; the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico; and the rise of narcotrafficking as a violent and vigorous global business throughout the Americas.
Latinx artists have responded to these crises by writing and developing innovative theatrical modes of representation about neoliberalism. Ybarra analyzes the work of playwrights María Irene Fornés, Cherríe Moraga, Michael John Garcés, Caridad Svich, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Victor Cazares, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Tanya Saracho, and Octavio Solis. In addressing histories of oppression in their home countries, these playwrights have newly imagined affective political and economic ties in the Americas. They also have rethought the hallmark movements of Latin politics in the United States—cultural nationalism, third world solidarity, multiculturalism—and their many discontents.
Left-leaning political parties play an important role as representatives of the poor and disempowered. They once did so by promising protections from the forces of capital and the market’s tendencies to produce inequality. But in the 1990s they gave up on protection, asking voters to adapt to a market-driven world. Meanwhile, new, extreme parties began to promise economic protections of their own—albeit in an angry, anti-immigrant tone.
To better understand today’s strange new political world, Stephanie L. Mudge’s Leftism Reinvented analyzes the history of the Swedish and German Social Democrats, the British Labour Party, and the American Democratic Party. Breaking with an assumption that parties simply respond to forces beyond their control, Mudgeargues that left parties’ changing promises expressed the worldviews of different kinds of experts. To understand how left parties speak, we have to understand the people who speak for them.
Leftism Reinvented shows how Keynesian economists came to speak for left parties by the early 1960s. These economists saw their task in terms of discretionary, politically-sensitive economic management. But in the 1980s a new kind of economist, who viewed the advancement of markets as left parties’ main task, came to the fore. Meanwhile, as voters’ loyalties to left parties waned, professional strategists were called upon to “spin” party messages. Ultimately, left parties undermined themselves, leaving a representative vacuum in their wake. Leftism Reinvented raises new questions about the roles and responsibilities of left parties—and their experts—in politics today.
Exploring globalization from a labor history perspective, Aviva Chomsky provides historically grounded analyses of migration, labor-management collaboration, and the mobility of capital. She illuminates the dynamics of these movements through case studies set mostly in New England and Colombia. Taken together, the case studies offer an intricate portrait of two regions, their industries and workers, and the myriad links between them over the long twentieth century, as well as a new way to conceptualize globalization as a long-term process.
Chomsky examines labor and management at two early-twentieth-century Massachusetts factories: one that transformed the global textile industry by exporting looms around the world, and another that was the site of a model program of labor-management collaboration in the 1920s. She follows the path of the textile industry from New England, first to the U.S. South, and then to Puerto Rico, Japan, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Colombia. She considers how towns in Rhode Island and Massachusetts began to import Colombian workers as they struggled to keep their remaining textile factories going. Most of the workers eventually landed in service jobs: cleaning houses, caring for elders, washing dishes.
Focusing on Colombia between the 1960s and the present, Chomsky looks at the Urabá banana export region, where violence against organized labor has been particularly acute, and, through a discussion of the AFL-CIO’s activities in Colombia, she explores the thorny question of U.S. union involvement in foreign policy. In the 1980s, two U.S. coal mining companies began to shift their operations to Colombia, where they opened two of the largest open-pit coal mines in the world. Chomsky assesses how different groups, especially labor unions in both countries, were affected. Linked Labor Histories suggests that economic integration among regions often exacerbates regional inequalities rather than ameliorating them.
Joseph North Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PN94.N67 2017 | Dewey Decimal 801.950904
Since the global turn to neoliberalism in the 1970s, movements in literary studies have been diagnostic rather than interventionist: scholars have developed techniques for analyzing culture but have retreated from attempts to transform it. For Joseph North, a genuinely interventionist criticism is a central task facing scholars on the Left today.
In Makers of Democracy A. Ricardo López-Pedreros traces the ways in which a thriving middle class was understood to be a foundational marker of democracy in Colombia during the second half of the twentieth century. Drawing on a wide array of sources ranging from training manuals and oral histories to school and business archives, López-Pedreros shows how the Colombian middle class created a model of democracy based on free-market ideologies, private property rights, material inequality, and an emphasis on a masculine work culture. This model, which naturalized class and gender hierarchies, provided the groundwork for Colombia's later adoption of neoliberalism and inspired the emergence of alternate models of democracy and social hierarchies in the 1960s and 1970s that helped foment political radicalization. By highlighting the contested relationships between class, gender, economics, and politics, López-Pedreros theorizes democracy as a historically unstable practice that exacerbated multiple forms of domination, thereby prompting a rethinking of the formation of democracies throughout the Americas.
Armin Beverungen University of Minnesota Press, 2019 Library of Congress HF5415 | Dewey Decimal 381
A media theory of markets
Markets abound in media—but a media theory of markets is still emerging. Anthropology offers media archaeologies of markets, and the sociology of markets and finance unravels how contemporary financial markets have witnessed a media technological arms race. Building on such work, this volume brings together key thinkers of economic studies with German media theory, describes the central role of the media specificity of markets in new detail and inflects them in three distinct ways. Nik-Khah and Mirowski show how the denigration of human cognition and the concomitant faith in computation prevalent in contemporary market-design practices rely on neoliberal conceptions of information in markets. Schröter confronts the asymmetries and abstractions that characterize money as a medium and explores the absence of money in media. Beverungen situates these inflections and gathers further elements for a politically and historically attuned media theory of markets concerned with contemporary phenomena such as high-frequency trading and cryptocurrencies.
The essays in Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism pose a series of related questions: How are we to understand capitalism at the millennium? Is it a singular or polythetic creature? What are we to make of the culture of neoliberalism that appears to accompany it, taking on simultaneously local and translocal forms? To what extent does it make sense to describe the present juncture in world history as an “age of revolution,” one not unlike 1789–1848 in its transformative potential? In exploring the material and cultural dimensions of the Age of Millennial Capitalism, the contributors interrogate the so-called crisis of the nation-state, how the triumph of the free market obscures rising tides of violence and cultures of exclusion, and the growth of new forms of identity politics. The collection also investigates the tendency of neoliberal capitalism to produce a world of increasing differences in wealth, environmental catastrophes, heightened flows of people and value across space and time, moral panics and social impossibilities, bitter generational antagonisms and gender conflicts, invisible class distinction, and “pariah” forms of economic activity. In the process, the volume opens up an empirically grounded, conceptual discussion about the world-at-large at a particularly momentous historical time—when the social sciences and humanities are in danger of ceding intellectual initiative to the masters of the market and the media. In addition to its crossdisciplinary essays, Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism—originally the third installment of the journal Public Culture’s “Millennial Quartet”—features several photographic essays. The book will interest anthropologists, political geographers, economists, sociologists, and political theorists.
Contributors. Scott Bradwell, Jean Comaroff, John L. Comaroff, Fernando Coronil, Peter Geschiere, David Harvey, Luiz Paulo Lima, Caitrin Lynch, Rosalind C. Morris, David G. Nicholls, Francis Nyamnjoh, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Paul Ryer, Allan Sekula, Irene Stengs, Michael Storper, Seamus Walsh, Robert P. Weller, Hylton White, Melissa W. Wright, Jeffrey A. Zimmerman
Can “market forces” solve the world’s environmental problems? The stakes are undeniably high. With wildlife populations and biodiversity riches threatened across the globe, it is obvious that new and innovative methods of addressing the crisis are vital to the future of the planet. But is “the market” the answer?
As public funding for conservation efforts grows ever scarcer and the private sector is brimming with ideas about how its role—along with its profits— can grow, market forces have found their way into environmental management to a degree unimaginable only a few years ago. Ecotourism, payment for environmental services (PES), and new conservation finance instruments such as species banking, carbon trading, and biodiversity derivatives are only some of the market mechanisms that have sprung into being. This is “Nature™ Inc.”: a fast-growing frontier of networks, activities, knowledge, and regulations that are rapidly changing the relations between people and nature on both global and local scales.
Nature™ Inc. brings together cutting-edge research by respected scholars from around the world to analyze how “neoliberal conservation” is reshaping human–nature relations that have been fashioned over two centuries of capitalist development. Contributors synthesize and add to a growing body of academic literature that cuts across the disciplinary boundaries of geography, sociology, anthropology, political science, and development studies to critically interrogate the increasing emphasis on neoliberal market-based mechanisms in environmental conservation. They all grapple with one overriding question: can capitalist market mechanisms resolve the environmental problems they have helped create?
In recent years, as peace between Israelis and Palestinians has remained cruelly elusive, scholars and activists have increasingly turned to South African history and politics to make sense of the situation. In the early 1990s, both South Africa and Israel began negotiating with their colonized populations. South Africans saw results: the state was democratized and black South Africans gained formal legal equality. Palestinians, on the other hand, won neither freedom nor equality, and today Israel remains a settler-colonial state. Despite these different outcomes, the transitions of the last twenty years have produced surprisingly similar socioeconomic changes in both regions: growing inequality, racialized poverty, and advanced strategies for securing the powerful and policing the racialized poor. Neoliberal Apartheid explores this paradox through an analysis of (de)colonization and neoliberal racial capitalism.
After a decade of research in the Johannesburg and Jerusalem regions, Andy Clarno presents here a detailed ethnographic study of the precariousness of the poor in Alexandra township, the dynamics of colonization and enclosure in Bethlehem, the growth of fortress suburbs and private security in Johannesburg, and the regime of security coordination between the Israeli military and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The first comparative study of the changes in these two areas since the early 1990s, the book addresses the limitations of liberation in South Africa, highlights the impact of neoliberal restructuring in Palestine, and argues that a new form of neoliberal apartheid has emerged in both contexts.
Fernando A. Blanco’s Neoliberal Bonds: Undoing Memory in Chilean Art and Literature analyzes the sociocultural processes that have reshaped subjectivities in post-Pinochet Chile. By creatively exploring the intersections among memory, gender, post-trauma, sociology, psychoanalysis, and neoliberalism, Neoliberal Bonds draws on Lacan’s notion of perversion to critique the subjective fantasies that people create to compensate for the loss of the social bond in the wake of a dictatorship founded on individualism, competition, and privatization.
Neoliberal Bonds vehemently criticizes how Chile’s transition governments, through a series of political and legal maneuvers, created the state’s official memory narratives. Blanco argues that the state, the media, academia, and the neoliberal market colluded to colonize and mediatize the “memory scene.” In contrast to these official narratives, Neoliberal Bonds analyzes alternative memory accounts within the visual arts and literature that push back against the state, its institutions, and its economic allies. These alternative memory narratives highlight the ontological fracture of the new neoliberal subjects; they also bring into sharp relief the urgent need for democratization that still poses a challenge to Chile a quarter century after its “transition to democracy” began.
Larry Bennett University of Illinois Press, 2017 Library of Congress F548.52.N46 2017 | Dewey Decimal 320.977311
The neoliberal philosophy of fiscal austerity aligned with reduced regulation has transformed Chicago. As pursued by mayor Rahm Emanuel and his predecessor Richard M. Daley, neoliberalism led officials to privatize everything from parking meters to schools, gut regulations and social services, and promote gentrification wherever possible. The essayists in Neoliberal Chicago explore an essential question: how does neoliberalism work on the ground in today's Chicago? Contextual chapters explore race relations, physical development, and why Chicago embraced neoliberalism. Other contributors delve into aspects of the neoliberal vision, neoliberalism's impact on three iconic city spaces, and how events like the 2008 foreclosure crisis and the bid to attract the Olympic Games reveal the workings of neoliberalism. Contributors: Stephen Alexander, Larry Bennett, Michael Bennett, Carrie Breitbach, Sean Dinces, Kenneth Fidel, Roberta Garner, Euan Hague, Black Hawk Hancock, Christopher Lamberti, Michael J. Lorr, Martha Martinez, Brendan McQuade, Alex G. Papadopoulos, Rajiv Shah, Costas Spirou, Carolina Sternberg, and Yue Zhang.
Katrina was not just a hurricane. The death, destruction, and misery wreaked on New Orleans cannot be blamed on nature’s fury alone. This volume of essays locates the root causes of the 2005 disaster squarely in neoliberal restructuring and examines how pro-market reforms are reshaping life, politics, economy, and the built environment in New Orleans.
The authors—a diverse group writing from the disciplines of sociology, political science, education, public policy, and media theory—argue that human agency and public policy choices were more at fault for the devastation and mass suffering experienced along the Gulf Coast than were sheer forces of nature. The harrowing images of flattened homes, citizens stranded on rooftops, patients dying in makeshift hospitals, and dead bodies floating in floodwaters exposed the moral and political contradictions of neoliberalism—the ideological rejection of the planner state and the active promotion of a new order of market rule.
Many of these essays offer critical insights on the saga of postdisaster reconstruction. Challenging triumphal narratives of civic resiliency and universal recovery, the authors bring to the fore pitched battles over labor rights, gender and racial justice, gentrification, the development of city master plans, the demolition of public housing, policing, the privatization of public schools, and roiling tensions between tourism-based economic growth and neighborhood interests. The contributors also expand and deepen more conventional critiques of “disaster capitalism” to consider how the corporate mobilization of philanthropy and public good will are remaking New Orleans in profound and pernicious ways.
Contributors: Barbara L. Allen, Virginia Polytechnic U; John Arena, CUNY College of Staten Island; Adrienne Dixson, Ohio State U; Eric Ishiwata, Colorado State U; Avis Jones-Deweever, National Council of Negro Women; Chad Lavin, Virginia Polytechnic U; Paul Passavant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Linda Robertson, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Chris Russill, Carleton U; Kanchana Ruwanpura, U of Southampton; Nicole Trujillo-Pagán, Wayne State U; Geoffrey Whitehall, Acadia U.
In Neoliberal Frontiers, Brenda Chalfin presents an ethnographic examination of the day-to-day practices of the officials of Ghana’s Customs Service, exploring the impact of neoliberal restructuring and integration into the global economy on Ghanaian sovereignty. From the revealing vantage point of the Customs office, Chalfin discovers a fascinating inversion of our assumptions about neoliberal transformation: bureaucrats and local functionaries, government offices, checkpoints, and registries are typically held to be the targets of reform, but Chalfin finds that these figures and sites of authority act as the engine for changes in state sovereignty. Ghana has served as a model of reform for the neoliberal establishment, making it an ideal site for Chalfin to explore why the restructuring of a state on the global periphery portends shifts that occur in all corners of the world. At once a foray into international political economy, politics, and political anthropology, Neoliberal Frontiers is an innovative interdisciplinary leap forward for ethnographic writing, as well as an eloquent addition to the literature on postcolonial Africa.
Neoliberalism and Commodity Production in Mexico details the impact of neoliberal practice on the production and exchange of basic resources in working-class communities in Mexico. Using anthropological investigations and a market-driven approach, contributors explain how uneven policies have undermined constitutional protections and working-class interests since the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
Detailed ethnographic fieldwork shows how foreign investment, privatization, deregulation, and elimination of welfare benefits have devastated national industries and natural resources and threatened agriculture, driving the campesinos and working class deeper into poverty. Focusing on specific commodity chains and the changes to production and marketing under neoliberalism, the contributors highlight the detrimental impacts of policies by telling the stories of those most affected by these changes. They detail the complex interplay of local and global forces, from the politically mediated systems of demand found at the local level to the increasingly powerful municipal and state governments and the global trade and banking institutions.
Sharing a common theoretical perspective and method throughout the chapters, Neoliberalism and Commodity Production in Mexico is a multi-sited ethnography that makes a significant contribution to studies of neoliberal ideology in practice.
Please Does it make sense to speak of an “American” literature in neoliberal times? Can literature function as either a neutral category or a privileged narrative of national imagination in a time when paradigms of the nation-state and of liberal capitalism are undergoing a prolonged shift? In the United States, as elsewhere, the association between the nation-state, liberal capitalism, and literary form has a long history, reflecting determinate relations between writer and reader within an imagined national community. As this community loses its symbolic efficiency in the age of neoliberal capital, the boundaries and possibilities of literary production and representation shift.
This collection of essays examines how American literature both models and interrogates the neoliberal present. Has literary realism been exhausted as a narrative form? Can contemporary literature still imagine either the end of capitalism or an alternative to it?fill in marketing copy
Neoliberalism is commonly viewed as an economic doctrine that seeks to limit the scope of government. Some consider it a form of predatory capitalism with adverse effects on the Global South. In this groundbreaking work, Aihwa Ong offers an alternative view of neoliberalism as an extraordinarily malleable technology of governing that is taken up in different ways by different regimes, be they authoritarian, democratic, or communist. Ong shows how East and Southeast Asian states are making exceptions to their usual practices of governing in order to position themselves to compete in the global economy. As she demonstrates, a variety of neoliberal strategies of governing are re-engineering political spaces and populations. Ong’s ethnographic case studies illuminate experiments and developments such as China’s creation of special market zones within its socialist economy; pro-capitalist Islam and women’s rights in Malaysia; Singapore’s repositioning as a hub of scientific expertise; and flexible labor and knowledge regimes that span the Pacific.
Ong traces how these and other neoliberal exceptions to business as usual are reconfiguring relationships between governing and the governed, power and knowledge, and sovereignty and territoriality. She argues that an interactive mode of citizenship is emerging, one that organizes people—and distributes rights and benefits to them—according to their marketable skills rather than according to their membership within nation-states. Those whose knowledge and skills are not assigned significant market value—such as migrant women working as domestic maids in many Asian cities—are denied citizenship. Nevertheless, Ong suggests that as the seam between sovereignty and citizenship is pried apart, a new space is emerging for NGOs to advocate for the human rights of those excluded by neoliberal measures of human worthiness.
In Neoliberalism from Below—first published in Argentina in 2014—Verónica Gago examines how Latin American neoliberalism is propelled not just from above by international finance, corporations, and government, but also by the activities of migrant workers, vendors, sweatshop workers, and other marginalized groups. Using the massive illegal market La Salada in Buenos Aires as a point of departure, Gago shows how alternative economic practices, such as the sale of counterfeit goods produced in illegal textile factories, resist neoliberalism while simultaneously succumbing to its models of exploitative labor and production. Gago demonstrates how La Salada's economic dynamics mirror those found throughout urban Latin America. In so doing, she provides a new theory of neoliberalism and a nuanced view of the tense mix of calculation and freedom, obedience and resistance, individualism and community, and legality and illegality that fuels the increasingly powerful popular economies of the global South's large cities.
The age of human rights has been kindest to the rich. Even as state violations of political rights garnered unprecedented attention due to human rights campaigns, a commitment to material equality disappeared. In its place, market fundamentalism has emerged as the dominant force in national and global economies. In this provocative book, Samuel Moyn analyzes how and why we chose to make human rights our highest ideals while simultaneously neglecting the demands of a broader social and economic justice.
In a pioneering history of rights stretching back to the Bible, Not Enough charts how twentieth-century welfare states, concerned about both abject poverty and soaring wealth, resolved to fulfill their citizens’ most basic needs without forgetting to contain how much the rich could tower over the rest. In the wake of two world wars and the collapse of empires, new states tried to take welfare beyond its original European and American homelands and went so far as to challenge inequality on a global scale. But their plans were foiled as a neoliberal faith in markets triumphed instead.
Moyn places the career of the human rights movement in relation to this disturbing shift from the egalitarian politics of yesterday to the neoliberal globalization of today. Exploring why the rise of human rights has occurred alongside enduring and exploding inequality, and why activists came to seek remedies for indigence without challenging wealth, Not Enough calls for more ambitious ideals and movements to achieve a humane and equitable world.
On Petrocultures brings together key essays by Imre Szeman, a leading scholar in the field of energy humanities and a critical voice in debates about globalization and neoliberalism. Szeman’s most important and influential essays, in dialogue with exciting new pieces written for the book, investigate ever-evolving circuits of power in the contemporary world, as manifested in struggles over space and belonging, redefinitions of work and individual autonomy, and the deep links between energy use and climate change.
These essays explore life lived in the twenty-first century by examining critically the vocabulary through which capitalism makes sense of itself, focusing on concepts like the nation, globalization, neoliberalism, creativity, and entrepreneurship. At the heart of the volume is the concept of “petrocultures,” which demands that we understand a fundamental fact of modern life: we are shaped by and through fossil fuels. Szeman argues that we cannot take steps to address global warming without fundamentally changing the social, cultural, and political norms and expectations developed in conjunction with the energy riches of the past century. On Petrocultures maps the significant challenge of our dependence on fossil fuels and probes ways we might begin to leave petrocultures behind.
Drawing on deconstruction, postcolonial theory, cultural studies, and subaltern studies, The Other Side of the Popular is as much a reflection on the limitations and possibilities for thinking about the politics of Latin American culture as it is a study of the culture itself. Gareth Williams pays particular attention to the close relationship between complex cultural shifts and the development of the neoliberal nation-state. The modern Latin American nation, he argues, was built upon the idea of "the people," a citizenry with common interests transcending demographic and cultural differences. As nations have weakened in relation to the global economy, this moment—of the popular as the basis of nation-building—has passed, causing seismic shifts in the relationships between governments and cultural formations. Williams asserts that these changed relationships necessitate the rethinking of fundamental concepts such as "the popular" and "the nation." He maintains that the perspective of subalternity is vital to this theoretical project because it demands the reimagining of the connections between critical reason and its objects of analysis.
Williams develops his argument through studies of events highlighting Latin America’s uneasy, and often violent, transition to late capitalism over the past thirty years. He looks at the Chiapas rebellion in Mexico, genocide in El Salvador, the Sendero in Peru, Chile’s and Argentina’s transitions to democratic governments, and Latin Americans’ migration northward. Williams also reads film, photography, and literary works, including Ricardo Piglia’s The Absent City and the statements of a young Salvadoran woman, the daughter of ex-guerrilleros, living in South Central Los Angeles.
The Other Side of the Popular is an incisive interpretation of Latin American culture and politics over the last few decades as well as a thoughtful meditation on the state of Latin American cultural studies.
In the post-Maoist era, China adopted a strategy for investing in the “quality” of its people—through education and training opportunities—that created talented labor. In her significant ethnographic study, Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China, Lisa Hoffman explains why the development of “human capital” is seen as fundamental for economic growth and national progress. She examines these new urban employees, who were deemed vital to the success of the global city in China, and who hoped for social mobility, a satisfying career, and perhaps a family.
Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China addresses the emergence of this urban professional subject in Dalian, a port city in China. Hoffman identifies who these new professionals are, what choices they have made, and how they have remained closely connected with the nation—although not necessarily the Communist party—leading to a new social form she calls “Patriotic Professionalism.”
Hoffman contributes to the understanding of changing urban life in China while providing an analysis of the country’s “late-socialist neoliberalism.” In the process, she asks pressing questions about how such shifts in urban life reshape cities, impact individual and family decisions, and reflect economic growth in China in tandem with “global” neoliberal practices.
Poetry Matters explores poetry written by women from the United States and Canada, which documents the social and political turmoil of the early twenty-first century and places this poetry in dialogue with recent currents of feminist theory including new materialism, affect theory, posthumanism, and feminist engagements with neoliberalism and capitalism. Central to this project is the conviction that a poetics that explores the political dimensions of affect; demonstrates an understanding of subjectivity as posthuman and transcorporeal; critically reflects on the impact of capitalism on queer, racialized, and female bodies; and develops an ethical vocabulary for reimagining the nation state and critically engaging with issues of democracy and citizenship is now more urgent than ever before.
Milne focuses on poetry published after 2001 by writers who mostly began writing after the feminist writing movements of the 1980s, but who have inherited and built upon their political and aesthetic legacies. The poets discussed in this book—including Jennifer Scappettone, Margaret Christakos, Larissa Lai, Rita Wong, Nikki Reimer, Rachel Zolf, Yedda Morrison, Marcella Durand, Evelyn Reilly, Juliana Spahr, Claudia Rankine, Dionne Brand, Jena Osman, and Jen Benka—bring a sense of political agency to poetry. These voices seek new vocabularies and dissenting critical and aesthetic frameworks for thinking across issues of gender, materiality, capitalism, the toxic convergences of nationalism and racism, and the decline of democratic institutions. This is poetry that matters—both in its political urgency and in its attentiveness to the world as “matter”—as a material entity under siege. It could not be more timely or more relevant.
The attempt to reduce the role of the state in the market through tax cuts, decreases in social spending, deregulation, and privatization—“neoliberalism”—took root in the United States under Ronald Reagan and in Britain under Margaret Thatcher. But why did neoliberal policies gain such prominence in these two countries and not in similarly industrialized Western countries such as France and Germany?
In The Politics of Free Markets, a comparative-historical analysis of the development of neoliberal policies in these four countries,Monica Prasad argues that neoliberalism was made possible in the United States and Britain not because the Left in these countries was too weak, but because it was in some respects too strong. At the time of the oil crisis in the 1970s, American and British tax policies were more punitive to business and the wealthy than the tax policies of France and West Germany; American and British industrial policies were more adversarial to business in key domains; and while the British welfare state was the most redistributive of the four, the French welfare state was the least redistributive. Prasad shows that these adversarial structures in the United States and Britain created opportunities for politicians to find and mobilize dissatisfaction with the status quo, while the more progrowth policies of France and West Germany prevented politicians of the Right from anchoring neoliberalism in electoral dissatisfaction.
With global debt, labor, and environmental crises on the rise, the precarious position of people in the Global South has become a significant force moving people across countries, continents, and around the world. Through a comparative study of contemporary trans-Atlantic immigrant narratives in French, Spanish, and English, Alexandra Perisic offers an account of a multilingual Atlantic under neoliberalism. More specifically, Precarious Crossings: Immigration, Neoliberalism, and the Atlantic examines how contemporary authors from the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America—including Roberto Bolaño, Giannina Braschi, Maryse Condé, Fatou Diome, Marie Ndiaye, and Caryl Phillips, among others—have reconceptualized the Atlantic from a triangular space into a multipolar one, introducing new destinations for contemporary immigrants and establishing new Atlantic connections.
Perisic argues that in traveling beyond the postcolonial route that connects former colonizer and former colonized, these authors also shift their focus from cultural difference and national belonging to precarity—a condition characterized by a lack of economic and social stability and protection—as a shared characteristic under global neoliberalization. She demonstrates how contemporary Atlantic narratives reveal the contradictions inherent in neoliberalism as an ideology—thereby showing how they further participate in Atlantic literary and cultural dialogues and push against literary conventions of various genre as they explore the complexities of a globalized Atlantic.
The economic reforms imposed by Augusto Pinochet’s regime (1973–1990) are often credited with transforming Chile into a global economy and setting the stage for a peaceful transition to democracy, individual liberty, and the recognition of cultural diversity. The famed economist Milton Friedman would later describe the transition as the “Miracle of Chile.” Yet, as Patricia Richards reveals, beneath this veneer of progress lies a reality of social conflict and inequity that has been perpetuated by many of the same neoliberal programs.
In Race and the Chilean Miracle, Richards examines conflicts between Mapuche indigenous people and state and private actors over natural resources, territorial claims, and collective rights in the Araucanía region. Through ground-level fieldwork, extensive interviews with local Mapuche and Chileans, and analysis of contemporary race and governance theory, Richards exposes the ways that local, regional, and transnational realities are shaped by systemic racism in the context of neoliberal multiculturalism..
Richards demonstrates how state programs and policies run counter to Mapuche claims for autonomy and cultural recognition. The Mapuche, whose ancestral lands have been appropriated for timber and farming, have been branded as terrorists for their activism and sometimes-violent responses to state and private sector interventions. Through their interviews, many Mapuche cite the perpetuation of colonialism under the guise of development projects, multicultural policies, and assimilationist narratives. Many Chilean locals and political elites see the continued defiance of the Mapuche in their tenacious connection to the land, resistance to integration, and insistence on their rights as a people. These diametrically opposed worldviews form the basis of the racial dichotomy that continues to pervade Chilean society.
In her study, Richards traces systemic racism that follows both a top-down path (global, state, and regional) as well as a bottom-up one (local agencies and actors), detailing their historic roots. Richards also describes potential positive outcomes in the form of intercultural coalitions or indigenous autonomy. Her compelling analysis offers new perspectives on indigenous rights, race, and neoliberal multiculturalism in Latin America and globally.
The collapse that began in 2008 continues to burden the world economy. David Kotz, one of the few academic economists to predict it, argues that the ongoing crisis is not simply the aftermath of financial panic and severe recession but is a structural crisis of neoliberal capitalism whose resolution will require major institutional restructuring.
The Road from Mont Pèlerin
Philip Mirowski Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress JC574.R63 2015 | Dewey Decimal 320.51
What exactly is neoliberalism, and where did it come from? This volume attempts to answer these questions by exploring neoliberalism’s origins and growth as a political and economic movement. Now with a new preface.
The Road from Mont Pèlerin
Philip Mirowski Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress JC574.R63 2009 | Dewey Decimal 320.51
What exactly is neoliberalism, and where did it come from? This volume attempts to answer these questions by exploring neoliberalism’s origins and growth as a political and economic movement. The Road from Mont Pèlerin presents the key debates and conflicts that occurred among neoliberal scholars and their political and corporate allies regarding trade unions, development economics, antitrust policies, and the influence of philanthropy.
Official corruption has become increasingly prevalent around the world since the early 1990s. The situation appears to be particularly acute in the post-communist states. Corruption—be it real or perceived—is a major problem with concrete implications, including a lowered likelihood of foreign investment. In Rotten States? Leslie Holmes analyzes corruption in post-communist countries, paying particular attention to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, as well as China, which Holmes argues has produced, through its recent economic liberalization, a system similar to post-communism. As he points out, these countries offer useful comparisons: they vary in terms of size, religious orientation, ethnic homogeneity, and their approaches to and economic success with the transition from communism.
Drawing on data including surveys commissioned especially for this study, Holmes examines the causes and consequences of official corruption as well as ways of combating it. He focuses particular attention on the timing of the recent increase in reports of corruption, the relationship between post-communism and corruption, and the interplay between corruption and the delegitimation and weakening of the state. Holmes argues that the global turn toward neoliberalism—with its focus on ends over means, flexibility, and a reduced role for the state—has generated much of the corruption in post-communist states. At the same time, he points out that neoliberalism is perhaps the single most powerful tool for overcoming the communist legacy, which is an even more significant cause of corruption. Among the conclusions that Holmes draws is that a strong democratic state is needed in the early stages of the transition from communism in order to prevent corruption from taking hold.
In Saving the Security State Inderpal Grewal traces the changing relations between the US state and its citizens in an era she calls advanced neoliberalism. Marked by the decline of US geopolitical power, endless war, and increasing surveillance, advanced neoliberalism militarizes everyday life while producing the “exceptional citizens”—primarily white Christian men who reinforce the security state as they claim responsibility for protecting the country from racialized others. Under advanced neoliberalism, Grewal shows, others in the United States strive to become exceptional by participating in humanitarian projects that compensate for the security state's inability to provide for the welfare of its citizens. In her analyses of microfinance programs in the global South, security moms, the murders at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the post-9/11 crackdown on Muslim charities, Grewal exposes the fissures and contradictions at the heart of the US neoliberal empire and the centrality of race, gender, and religion to the securitized state.
Unprecedented crime rates have made Guatemala City one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Following a peace process that ended Central America’s longest and bloodiest civil war and impelled the transition from a state-centric economy to the global free market, Guatemala’s neoliberal moment is now strikingly evident in the practices and politics of security. Postwar violence has not prompted public debates about the conditions that permit transnational gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime to thrive. Instead, the dominant reaction to crime has been the cultural promulgation of fear and the privatization of what would otherwise be the state’s responsibility to secure the city. This collection of essays, the first comparative study of urban Guatemala, explores these neoliberal efforts at security. Contributing to the anthropology of space and urban studies, this book brings together anthropologists and historians to examine how postwar violence and responses to it are reconfiguring urban space, transforming the relationship between city and country, and exacerbating deeply rooted structures of inequality and ethnic discrimination.
Contributors. Peter Benson, Manuela Camus, Avery Dickins de Girón, Edward F. Fischer, Deborah Levenson, Thomas Offit, Kevin Lewis O’Neill, Kedron Thomas, Rodrigo José Véliz
In The Security Archipelago, Paul Amar provides an alternative historical and theoretical framing of the refashioning of free-market states and the rise of humanitarian security regimes in the Global South by examining the pivotal, trendsetting cases of Brazil and Egypt. Addressing gaps in the study of neoliberalism and biopolitics, Amar describes how coercive security operations and cultural rescue campaigns confronting waves of resistance have appropriated progressive, antimarket discourses around morality, sexuality, and labor. The products of these struggles—including powerful new police practices, religious politics, sexuality identifications, and gender normativities—have traveled across an archipelago, a metaphorical island chain of what the global security industry calls "hot spots." Homing in on Cairo and Rio de Janeiro, Amar reveals the innovative resistances and unexpected alliances that have coalesced in new polities emerging from the Arab Spring and South America's Pink Tide. These have generated a shared modern governance model that he terms the "human-security state."
South Koreans in the Debt Crisis is a detailed examination of the logic underlying the neoliberal welfare state that South Korea created in response to the devastating Asian Debt Crisis (1997–2001). Jesook Song argues that while the government proclaimed that it would guarantee all South Koreans a minimum standard of living, it prioritized assisting those citizens perceived as embodying the neoliberal ideals of employability, flexibility, and self-sufficiency. Song demonstrates that the government was not alone in drawing distinctions between the “deserving” and the “undeserving” poor. Progressive intellectuals, activists, and organizations also participated in the neoliberal reform project. Song traces the circulation of neoliberal concepts throughout South Korean society, among government officials, the media, intellectuals, NGO members, and educated underemployed people working in public works programs. She analyzes the embrace of partnerships between NGOs and the government, the frequent invocation of a pervasive decline in family values, the resurrection of conservative gender norms and practices, and the promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to survival.
Drawing on her experience during the crisis as an employee in a public works program in Seoul, Song provides an ethnographic assessment of the efforts of the state and civilians to regulate social insecurity, instability, and inequality through assistance programs. She focuses specifically on efforts to help two populations deemed worthy of state subsidies: the “IMF homeless,” people temporarily homeless but considered employable, and the “new intellectuals,” young adults who had become professionally redundant during the crisis but had the high-tech skills necessary to lead a transformed post-crisis South Korea.
Speculative Fictions views the Chilean neoliberal transition as reflected in cultural production from the postdictatorship era of the 1970s to the present. To Alessandro Fornazzari, the move to market capitalism effectively blurred the lines between economics and aesthetics, perhaps nowhere more evidently than in Chile.
Through exemplary works of film, literature, the visual arts, testimonials, and cultural theory, Fornazzari reveals the influence of economics over nearly every aspect of culture and society. Citing Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, Willy Thayer, Milton Friedman, and others, Fornazzari forms the theoretical basis for his neoliberal transitional discourse as a logical progression of capitalism.
Fornazzari identifies Casa de campo, José Donoso’s allegory of the military coup of 1973 and the ensuing monetary crisis, as a harbinger of transitional texts, challenging them to explore new forms of abstraction. Those forms are explored in the novels Oir su voz by Arturo Fontaine and Mano de obra by Diamela Eltit, where Fornazzari examines divergent views of workers in the form of neoliberal human capital or post-Fordist immaterial labor. In documentaries by Patricio Guzmán and Silvio Caiozzi, he juxtaposes depictions of mass mobilization and protest to the mass marketing of individual memory and loss, claiming they serve as symbols of the polarities of dictatorship and neoliberalism. Fornazzari then relates the subsuming of the individual under both fascism and neoliberalism by recalling the iconic imbunche (a mutilated figure whose orifices have been sewn closed) in works by Donoso and the visual artist Catalina Parra. He continues the theme of subsumption in his discussion of the obliteration of the divide between physical labor and intellectualism under neoliberalism, as evidenced in the detective novel A la sombra del dinero by Ramón Díaz Eterovic.
In these examples and others, Fornazzari presents a firmly grounded theoretical analysis that will appeal to Latin Americanists in general and to those interested in the intersection of economics and culture. The Chilean experience provides a case study that will also inform students and scholars of neoliberal transitions globally.
Offering new approaches to thinking about sports and political ideologies, Sport and Neoliberalism explores the structures, formations, and mechanics of neoliberalism. The editors and contributors to this original and timely volume examine the intersection of sport as a national pastime and also an engine for urban policy—e.g., stadium building—as well as a powerful force for influencing our understanding of the relationship between culture, politics, and identity.
Sport and Neoliberalism examines the ways the neoliberal project creates priorities for civic society and how, in effect, it turns many aspects of sport into a vehicle of public governance. From the relationship between sport and the neo-liberal state, through the environmental dimensions of neo-liberal sport, to the political biopolitics of obesity, the essays in this volume explore the ways in which the “logics” of neoliberalism are manifest as powerful public pedagogies through the realm of popular culture.
Contributors include: Michael Atkinson, Ted Butryn, C. L. Cole, Norman Denzin, Grant Farred, Jessica Francombe, Caroline Fusco, Michael D. Giardina, Mick Green, Leslie Heywood, Samantha King, Lisa McDermott, Mary G. McDonald, Toby Miller, Mark Montgomery, Joshua I. Newman, Jay Scherer, Kimberly S. Schimmel, and Brian Wilson
College students are now regarded as consumers, not students, and nowhere is the growth and exploitation of the university more obvious than in the realm of college sports, where the evidence is in the stadiums built with corporate money, and the crowded sporting events sponsored by large conglomerates.
The contributors to Sport and the Neoliberal University examine how intercollegiate athletics became a contested terrain of public/private interests. They look at college sports from economic, social, legal, and cultural perspectives to cut through popular mythologies regarding intercollegiate athletics and to advocate for increased clarity about what is going on at a variety of campuses with regard to athletics. Focusing on current issues, including the NCAA, Title IX, recruitment of high school athletes, and the Penn State scandal, among others, Sport and the Neoliberal University shows the different ways institutions, individuals, and corporations are interacting with university athletics in ways that are profoundly shaped by neoliberal ideologies.
Theorizing NGOs examines how the rise of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) has transformed the conditions of women's lives and of feminist organizing. Victoria Bernal and Inderpal Grewal suggest that we can understand the proliferation of NGOs through a focus on the NGO as a unified form despite the enormous variation and diversity contained within that form. Theorizing NGOs brings together cutting-edge feminist research on NGOs from various perspectives and disciplines. Contributors locate NGOs within local and transnational configurations of power, interrogate the relationships of nongovernmental organizations to states and to privatization, and map the complex, ambiguous, and ultimately unstable synergies between feminisms and NGOs. While some of the contributors draw on personal experience with NGOs, others employ regional or national perspectives. Spanning a broad range of issues with which NGOs are engaged, from microcredit and domestic violence to democratization, this groundbreaking collection shows that NGOs are, themselves, fields of gendered struggles over power, resources, and status.
Contributors. Sonia E. Alvarez, Victoria Bernal, LeeRay M. Costa, Inderpal Grewal, Laura Grünberg, Elissa Helms, Julie Hemment, Saida Hodžic, Lamia Karim, Sabine Lang, Lauren Leve, Kathleen O'Reilly, Aradhana Sharma
When an IMF-backed program of liberalization opened Trinidad’s borders to foreign ready-made apparel, global competition damaged the local industry and unraveled worker entitlements and expectations but also presented new economic opportunities for engaging the “global” market. This fascinating ethnography explores contemporary life in the Signature Fashions garment factory, where the workers attempt to exploit gaps in these new labor configurations through illicit and informal uses of the factory, a practice they colloquially refer to as “thiefing a chance.”
Drawing on fifteen months of fieldwork, author Rebecca Prentice combines a vivid picture of factory life, first-person accounts, and anthropological analysis to explore how economic restructuring has been negotiated, lived, and recounted by women working in the garment industry during Trinidad’s transition to a neoliberal economy. Through careful social coordination, the workers “thief” by copying patterns, taking portions of fabric, teaching themselves how to operate machines, and wearing their work outside the factory. Even so, the workers describe their “thiefing” as a personal, individualistic enterprise rather than a form of collective resistance to workplace authority. By making and taking furtive opportunities, they embrace a vision of themselves as enterprising subjects while actively complying with the competitive demands of a neoliberal economic order.
Prentice presents the factory not as a stable institution but instead as a material and social space in which the projects, plans, and desires of workers and their employers become aligned and misaligned, at some moments in deep harmony and at others in rancorous conflict. Arguing for the productive power of the informal and illicit, Thiefing a Chance contributes to anthropological debates about the very nature of neoliberal capitalism and will be of great interest to undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in anthropology, labor studies, Caribbean studies, and development studies.
The collapse of socialism at the end of the twentieth century brought devastating changes to Mongolia. Economic shock therapy—an immediate liberalization of trade and privatization of publicly owned assets—quickly led to impoverishment, especially in rural parts of the country, where Tragic Spirits takes place. Following the travels of the nomadic Buryats, Manduhai Buyandelger tells a story not only of economic devastation but also a remarkable Buryat response to it—the revival of shamanic practices after decades of socialist suppression.
Attributing their current misfortunes to returning ancestral spirits who are vengeful over being abandoned under socialism, the Buryats are now at once trying to appease their ancestors and recover the history of their people through shamanic practice. Thoroughly documenting this process, Buyandelger situates it as part of a global phenomenon, comparing the rise of shamanism in liberalized Mongolia to its similar rise in Africa and Indonesia. In doing so, she offers a sophisticated analysis of the way economics, politics, gender, and other factors influence the spirit world and the crucial workings of cultural memory.
International peace parks—transnational conservation areas established and managed by two or more countries—have become a popular way of protecting biodiversity while promoting international cooperation and regional development. In Transforming the Frontier, Bram Büscher shows how cross-border conservation neatly reflects the neoliberal political economy in which it developed.
Based on extensive research in southern Africa with the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Project, Büscher explains how the successful promotion of transfrontier conservation as a "win-win" solution happens not only in spite of troubling contradictions and problems, but indeed because of them. This is what he refers to as the "politics of neoliberal conservation," which receives its strength from effectively combining strategies of consensus, antipolitics, and marketing. Drawing on long-term, multilevel ethnographic research, Büscher argues that transfrontier conservation projects are not as concerned with on-the-ground development as they are purported to be. Instead, they are reframing environmental protection and sustainable development to fit an increasingly contradictory world order.
In this first-ever collection of labor anthropology from around the world, the contributors to Uncertain Times assert that traditional labor unions have been co-opted by neoliberal policies of corporate capital and have become service organizations rather than drivers of social movements. The current structure of labor unions facilitates corporations’ need for a stable labor force while reducing their power to prevent outsourcing, subcontracting, and other methods of undercutting worker security and union power. Through case studies from Switzerland, Israel, Argentina, Mexico, the United States, Greece, Sweden,Turkey, Brazil and Spain, the authors demonstrate that this process of neutering unions has been uneven across time and space. They also show that the potential exists for renewed union power based on more vociferous and creative collective action. These firsthand accounts—from activist anthropologists in the trenches as union members and staff, as well as academics analyzing policy, law, worker organizing, and community impact—illustrate the many approaches that workers around the world are taking to reclaim their rights in this ever-shifting labor landscape.
Uncertain Times is the first book to use this crucial comparative, ethnographic approach for understanding the new rules of the global labor struggle and the power workers have to change those rules. The volume will be of great interest to students and scholars of anthropology, sociology of work, and labor studies; labor union leadership; and others interested in developing innovative methods for organizing working people, fomenting class consciousness, and expanding social movements.
Contributors: Alpkan Birelma, Emma Braden, Maria Eugenia de la O, Christopher Kelley, Staffan Löfving, Gadi Nissim, Darcy Pan, Steven Payne, Alicia Reigada, Julia Soul, Manos Spyridakis, Christian Zlolniski
Latin America in the 1980s was marked by the transition to democracy and a turn toward economic orthodoxy. Unsettling Statecraft analyzes this transition in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, focusing on the political dynamics underlying change and the many disturbing tendencies at work as these countries shed military authoritarianism for civilian rule.
Conaghan and Malloy draw on insights from the political economy literature, viewing policy making as a “historically conditioned” process, and they conclude that the disturbing tendencies their research reveals are not due to regional pathology but are part of the more general experience of postmodern democracy.
Chile was the first major Latin American nation to carry out a complete neoliberal transformation. Its policies—encouraging foreign investment, privatizing public sector companies and services, lowering trade barriers, reducing the size of the state, and embracing the market as a regulator of both the economy and society—produced an economic boom that some have hailed as a “miracle” to be emulated by other Latin American countries. But how have Chile’s millions of workers, whose hard labor and long hours have made the miracle possible, fared under this program? Through empirically grounded historical case studies, this volume examines the human underside of the Chilean economy over the past three decades, delineating the harsh inequities that persist in spite of growth, low inflation, and some decrease in poverty and unemployment.
Implemented in the 1970s at the point of the bayonet and in the shadow of the torture chamber, the neoliberal policies of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship reversed many of the gains in wages, benefits, and working conditions that Chile’s workers had won during decades of struggle and triggered a severe economic crisis. Later refined and softened, Pinochet’s neoliberal model began, finally, to promote economic growth in the mid-1980s, and it was maintained by the center-left governments that followed the restoration of democracy in 1990. Yet, despite significant increases in worker productivity, real wages stagnated, the expected restoration of labor rights faltered, and gaps in income distribution continued to widen. To shed light on this history and these ongoing problems, the contributors look at industries long part of the Chilean economy—including textiles and copper—and industries that have expanded more recently—including fishing, forestry, and agriculture. They not only show how neoliberalism has affected Chile’s labor force in general but also how it has damaged the environment and imposed special burdens on women. Painting a sobering picture of the two Chiles—one increasingly rich, the other still mired in poverty—these essays suggest that the Chilean miracle may not be as miraculous as it seems. Contributors. Paul Drake Volker Frank Thomas Klubock Rachel Schurman Joel Stillerman Heidi Tinsman Peter Winn