Necroeconomics of food security -- austerity, deferral, biopolitics

Authors: Ilona Moore*, Bucknell University
Topics: Development, Social Theory, Economic Geography
Keywords: food security, economy, India, social policy, development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines how the logic of loans (debt) was used to enact an updated temporal logic of biopolitical deprivation in neoliberal austerity policies. I focus on the ways that the economic logic and the economic language in the public discourse was realigned with debt induced austerity. In the case I examine, an IMF loan’s structural adjustment requirements were employed to downgrade, or demote, the Government of India’s level of food security support to the population. While the IMF loan was initially used to restructure social welfare and food support policies, its lasting legacies -- a discourse of neoliberal economic deferral -- continue to be deployed in policy debates and mainstream rhetoric to justify denying basic needs to large segments of the population. I trace the ways that the contemporary economic logic, introduced with “debt” and “expense,” have been mobilized in debates around austerity in food security policy as justification for life-denying policies. As scholars have argued and judges have ruled, the life-denying effects operate as a tool of state execution. But, the logic underlying this tool of execution is also a normalized and palatable frame though which to do the otherwise unacceptable. I draw out continuities and resonances with debates centuries earlier among classical political economists about the role of the market in “allocating death.”

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