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TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies
Call for papers—The Financialized Imagination and Beyond
Special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Fall 2013
Proposals due September 14, 2012
Link to PDF version of the CFP: http://t.co/xcuw44bq
Edited by Max Haiven (New York University/Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University) and Jody Berland (York University)
Narrowly defined as the so-called “FIRE” industries (high finance, insurance and real estate), finance has gained tremendous power over the global economy in recent years. Critics describe “financialization” as a profound and far-reaching social and cultural shift. Advances in financial modelling, computing and communications technology have changed the nature and power of financial speculation, but the vast expansion of new forms of debt, credit and everyday financial services have also had dramatic impacts on daily life. From credit cards to sub-prime mortgages, from student debt to the privatization of pensions, from pay-day loans to online
stock trading, financial practices have become mainstream cultural issues. Films, biographies, novels, television shows and web-texts about finance and financiers (lionized or demonized) are more popular than ever. Logics of finance inform and shape public policy and social institutions, from hospitals and schools to science and cultural production, with “risk management,” “return on investment,” and “market efficiency” as key weapons of the neoliberal lexicon. Driven in part by immaterial, speculative, leveraged wealth, capitalism normalizes precarious labour and life in both material and immaterial forms, and each of us is expected to manage our risk portfolios and embrace a life of endless speculation. While the politics of debt, predatory lending and speculative capital have long shaped geopolitical realities, especially in the developing world, the unapologetic “age of austerity” threatens a new intensity of inequality and exploitation, with dramatic human and ecological consequences.
Facing continuous global financial crises and new social movements emerging to contest this “age of austerity,” cultural studies has important questions to ask about the financialized imagination. How is “finance” represented in fiction, film, journalism and art? How is finance itself a form of “representation” as well as a cultural phenomenon driven by beliefs, narratives and technologies? How do representational technologies contribute to the production of wealth? How do we explain the charisma of the speculator, the valorization of “risk management” and the fetishization of “financial literacy” under hyper-neoliberalism? What are finance’s effects on
cultural production and the political economy of culture? How is the rise of digitized financial power related to the global play of material and immaterial economics, labour and culture? How is financialization connected to and expressed through race, class, gender, sexuality, colonialism, imperialism and ablism? What are the geopolitical and affective consequences of financialization? How do we historicize and “periodize” financialization, and what is at stake in analyzing what Marx called “fictitious capital”? What are the effects of financialization on everyday culture? How is debt linked to politics of precarity, disposability or borders? Are there ecologies of financialization? How does finance’s tremendous power to commodify potential futures as present-day “risk” affect how we imagine the future? What are the contours and limits of the “financialized imagination”? Have we moved from a society of the spectacle to a society of speculation? What lies beyond?
Social movements such as the Occupy movement and, more broadly, anti-austerity struggles from Athens to Chile, Nigeria to India, Korea to Montreal have been waging cultural struggles over the meaning of debt, the uses and abuses of banking, and the nature of economic power. Critical films, fiction, blogs and other genres seek to probe finance, financialization and the financial crisis, with varying degrees of success.
TOPIA invites contributors to propose academic articles, shorter “offerings,” reviews and review essays for a special issue on the “financialized imagination and beyond.” Themes and topics include (but are not limited to):
Cultural representations of finance, financialization, financiers and the financial crisis in and across media
The cultural politics of debt and credit in everyday life: government spending, ecological debt and debt as a paradigm of social discipline
Finance as representation of space, time, knowledge, culture, materiality or immateriality
Calculation and the new common sense: the fate of futurity, the cultural idiom of speculation and the practices of “risk management”
Finance capital(ism) and the politics and economics of cultural production: the financing of culture
The cultural politics of crisis
The interplay of oppressions (gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, citizenship) and finance, from racialized predatory sub-prime lending to women-focused microcredit schemes, from the “Wall Street Man” to the legacies of debt-bondage and slavery
The roots and legacies of colonialism and imperialism in finance (and vice versa)
The financialization of daily life and social institutions
The cultural and affective dimensions of finance, financial labour and financial speculation: how are cultures of speculation built and reproduced? What does financial wealth represent? What kinds of affects and sensations are produced by wealth through speculation, display, or loss?
Tension and interplay between material and immaterial capital, labour and culture, money and power
Historical precedents and patterns of finance and financialization: narrating events from Tulip Mania to the collapse of the Asian Tigers; from the speculative value of enslaved Africans to the predatory sub-prime mortgage industry that thrived on inner-city poverty
Struggles against finance, financialization and austerity, and their spaces, strategies, narratives, potentials and limits
Horizons beyond the crisis
Prospective authors should submit a 300-word proposal, accompanied by a brief biographical note, to the editors by September 14, 2012. Selected authors will be invited to prepare articles by February 15, 2013, with publication dependent on the peer-review process. The issue will be published in Fall 2013. More information can be found at TOPIA’s website, www.yorku.ca/topia.
Please direct proposals and queries to Max Haiven at email@example.com, and to Jody Berland at firstname.lastname@example.org.