Racial Finance Capital 1: Financing the Neoliberal City

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Galerie 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Benjamin Rubin, Neil Agarwal
Chairs: Benjamin Rubin


This session takes up a theoretical framework of racial capitalism to bring together new scholarship on finance capital. The notion that capitalism is and has always been racial draws attention to the inextricable relationship between capitalist economic processes and racialism, or the “legitimation and corroboration of social organization as natural by reference to the ‘racial’ components of its elements” (Robinson 1983, 2). That the historical development and expansion of capitalism has relied on the production, exploitation, and reshaping of social difference into racial hierarchies has serious implications for the study of finance capital and its increasing importance at all scales of the global economy. We seek to develop this insight in terms of ongoing histories of dispossession: to interrogate the intersecting ideologies of race and financial value (Hall 1996); to draw attention to the role of money and credit as means to represent the differential valuation of human life; and to consider how racial difference is rearticulated through core transformations in the circulation of money capital (Melamed 2015).

The increasingly prominent role of financialization in contemporary capitalism has been analyzed in terms of shifts in global hegemony (Arrighi 1994) and means of capitalist accumulation (Harvey 2005), and as a reworking of the social relations of everyday life (Martin 2002, Katz 2001). We hope to build on the work of scholars who have examined the dialectical processes of capitalist accumulation, dispossession, and abstraction which lead to uneven geographies of vulnerability to premature death (Gilmore 2007, Pulido 2000, 2016). Not just a static product of racial capitalism, racial difference is invoked and redefined as part of state responses to financial and social crises (Gilmore 2007, Roy 2010, Wilson 2000, Woods 1998).

Taking inspiration from the Black radical tradition, this session seeks to go beyond reiterating the violence of financial abstraction and the role of finance in racially constituted exposure to harm (McKittrick 2011). We seek papers that take up questions of imagination, resistance, and struggle, grounded in questions and topics such as:

● How is finance capitalism racial? What racial ideologies facilitate financialization and what racial hierarchies have historically been produced by finance capitalism?
● Who are the subjects, and what constitute the power blocs, of racial capitalism under the expansion of finance?
● What are the racial projects that enable and are deepened through debt, insurance, and other financial technologies?
● What are the “wastes” of finance capital that comprise the Other of its value (Gidwani & Reddy 2011), and what work do they do in exploiting and remaking race?
● How can long-standing struggles for freedom and substantive democracy inform projects for the non-reformist reform of monetary and fiscal policy?
● How might the “slow violence” of racial capitalism reframe the temporalities of financial crisis? (Nixon 2011)
● Studies of the global monetary system and transnational financial institutions that draw on internationalist perspectives of Black radical tradition scholars such as W.E.B. Du Bois and C.L.R. James.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Yui Hashimoto*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, The Tale of Two Cities: Tracing flows of labour and capital in the ‘reprivatization’ of social reproduction in Milwaukee 20 12:40 PM
Presenter Hilary Wilson*, CUNY - Graduate Center, The Racial Work of Tax Increment Financing: How Municipal Finance Makes and Remakes Uneven Geographies of Social Difference 20 1:00 PM
Presenter Caroline Ponder*, University of British Columbia, Mikael Omstedt, University of British Columbia, The Violence of Municipal Debt 20 1:20 PM
Presenter Sara Safransky*, Vanderbilt University, Algorithmic violence: The Market Value Analysis and the paradoxes of Community Development Financial Institutions 20 1:40 PM
Discussant Malini Ranganathan American University 20 2:00 PM

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