Heroes and ordinaries: Examining constrained and self-conflicted lives in debt geographies

Authors: Esra Alkim Karaagac*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Economic Geography, Political Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: debt, subjectivities, everyday life, feminist geography, economic geography, Turkey
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, research on financialization in economic geography has shifted focus from the heartlands of high finance to everyday life. Moreover, scholars began investigating how indebtedness manifests in increasing inequalities and how the burden of debt mobilizes people around new forms of resistance. Yet, research on subjectivity formation with regards to the intimate, situated and relational aspects of indebtedness is limited in economic geography. Feminist scholarship has long been drawing attention to the messiness of everyday life and calling for in-depth research on subjectivities that goes beyond mainstream categories, binary divisions and false universalisms (Benhabib, 1992, Mahmood, 2005, Han, 2012, Joseph, 2014, Hall, 2016). Building on these approaches, this paper argues that the indebted subject is constrained within an amalgam of economic, political and ethical responsibilities and enmeshed in multiple relations. Therefore, research on subjectivities should give recognition to the expertise of people in debt negotiate their lives and to their acts of resistance that appear in unpredictable places, often confounding our expectations. Accordingly, the paper 1- provides a brief review of indebted subjectivities, 2- brings to the forefront a critical feminist approach that looks beyond assumptions and idealized expectations, and 3- discusses the applicability of this framework to research on state-led housing provision and subjectivity formation through mortgage debt in Turkey. Overall, the paper aims to contribute to the broader debt geographies literature by examining the constrained and self-conflicted subjects in the Turkish context, understanding their acts of resistance in these indebted times.

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