This article presents a study of state-imposed neoliberal education reform and resistance in post-Katrina New Orleans. In Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, the city’s school system was dramatically reformed with most of its public schools replaced by privately administered “charter schools.” The article examines the social contradictions created by this reform and characterizes how the city’s education activists articulate their resistance to education privatization. Situating the reform within New Orleans’s post-Katrina neoliberal reconfiguration, it analyzes how simultaneous processes of education privatization and racial dispossession have made the reform lack popular legitimacy. The article concludes by considering how the neoliberal policies implemented after the storm were conditioned by race, arguing that racial politics should be considered fundamental, rather than adjacent, to the study of neoliberalization in US cities.
Neoliberal restructuring, racial politics, and resistance in post-Katrina New Orleans
Mathilde Lind Gustavussen
Ethnographic approaches to neoliberalization
Oscar Salemink and Mattias Borg Rasmussen
Since the 1980s globalization has taken on increasingly neoliberalizing forms in the form of commoditization of objects, resources, or even human bodies, their reduction to financial values, and their enclosure or other forms of dispossession. “After dispossession” provides ethnographic accounts of the diverse ways to deal with dispossessions by attempts at repossessing values in connection to what has been lost in neoliberal assemblages of people and resources and thus how material loss might be compensated for in terms of subjective experiences of restoring value beyond the financial. The analytical challenge we pursue is one of bridging between a political economy concerned with the uneven distribution of wealth and resources, and the profound changes in identity politics and subject formation that are connected to these. We therefore argue that any dispossession may trigger acts of repossession of values beyond the financial realm, and consequently that suffering, too, entails forms of agency predicated on altered subjectivities. This move beyond the suffering subject reconnects the study of subjectivities with the analysis of alienation, disempowerment, and impoverishment through dispossession and attempts at recapturing value in altered circumstances.
A Synthesis and Evaluation of the Research
This article both synthesizes and critically evaluates a now large, multi-disciplinary body of published research that examines the neoliberalization of environmental regulation, management, and governance. Since the late 1970s, neoliberal ideas and ideals have gradually made their way into the domain of environmental policy as part of a wider change in the global political economy. While the volume of empirical research is now such that we can draw some conclusions about this policy shift, the fact that the research has evolved piecemeal across so many different disciplines has made identifying points of similarity and difference in the findings more difficult. After clarifying what neoliberalism is and explaining why the term 'neoliberalization' is preferable, the article analyzes the principal components and enumerates the social and environmental effects of this multifaceted process. By offering a comprehensive and probing survey of the salient literature, I hope not only to codify the existing research but also to guide future critical inquiries into neoliberal environmental policy.
This article examines the process of neoliberalization in the Shenzhen special economic zone in Guangdong Province, China. Building on the case study of a former peasant and almost single-lineage village that has become a part of the city of Shenzhen, I show how neoliberal principles aimed at advancing the transition to capitalism are combined with and countered by other ethical traditions. Owing to the long-standing conception of the lineage as an enterprise, the maintenance of the lineage structure in the transformation of the rural collectives has offered fertile ground for the emergence of a local capitalist coalition. Yet the current discourses on the necessity of obliterating the remains of the collective economy and introducing individual ownership run counter to the collectivist values of the lineage village community and the embeddedness of its economy in kinship and territorial ties. I further illustrate this discordance by the way in which the villagers managed to save their founding ancestor's grave site following government requests to clear the land by removing tombs. These policies form a complex blend of state interventions in the economy, neoliberal governance, and Confucian principles.
This article theorizes the making and unmaking of the urban housing commons in Amsterdam. The article reviews the literature on the urban housing commons, sets out the analytics of use values and exchange values for housing, and situates these analytics within the transition from dominance of industrial to finance capital in the Netherlands during neoliberalization from the mid-1970s to the present. A vibrant housing commons in Amsterdam came into existence by the 1980s because of two social movements that pressed the Dutch state to institutionalize this commons—the New Left movement within the Dutch Labor Party, and the squatters’ movement in Amsterdam. The subsequent shift in dominance from industrial to finance capital has led to the decline of both movements and the erosion of the housing commons.
Public–Private Partnerships and Bureaucratic Culture in Pakistan
The World Bank-financed 'Enhanced HIV and AIDS Control Program' tried to reorganize HIV/AIDS governance in Pakistan by pushing a neoliberal agenda, marketizing the provision of publicly funded HIV prevention services. NGOs and the private sector competed for contracts with the government to provide services to sex workers, drug users, transgendered people and homosexuals who were deemed 'high risk' groups for HIV. With this contractualization emerged a new bureaucratic field that emphasized 'flexible organization' and 'efficiency' in getting things done in place of the traditional bureaucratic proceduralism characteristic of the Pakistani civil service. This new corporate-style bureaucratic culture and the ambiguities of a hastily contracted (and 'efficiently' rolled out) Enhanced Program meant public funds ending up in the pockets of a few powerful actors. Instead of generating more efficiency, the marketization of services dispossessed the intended beneficiaries of the World Bank loan.
Japan’s internal cohesion and external conflict with neighbors
Hirata, K., & Warschauer, M. (2014). Japan: The paradox of harmony. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Soysal, Y.N. (Ed.) (2015). Transnational trajectories in East Asia: Nation, citizenship, and region. London: Routledge.
Park, B.G., Hill, R.C., & Saito, A. (Eds.) (2012). Locating neoliberalism in East Asia: Neoliberalizing spaces in developmental states. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
Trends, Limitations, Reformulations
The impact of neoliberal policy reform on water management has been a topic of significant debate since the mid-1980s. On one side, a number of organizations have generated an abundant literature in support of neoliberal reforms to solve a range of water governance challenges. To improve water efficiency, allocation, and management, supporters have advocated the introduction and/or strengthening of market mechanisms, private sector ownership and operation, and business-like administration. Other individuals and groups have responded critically to the prescribed reforms, which rarely delivered the predicted results or became fully actualized. This article endeavors to articulate the varying sets of claims, to analyze the trends, to test them against their forecasted benefits, and to examine certain prominent proposals for reforming the reforms. The water sector experience with neoliberalization reveals several sets of contradictions within the neoliberal program, and these are discussed in the final section of the article.
How perspectives from the margins can illuminate the exploits of twenty-first-century global capitalism
Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka
In the context of rapid neoliberal reform, both anthropology as a discipline and the social and cultural phenomena it studies are undergoing profound changes. In this article we develop June Nash's concept of “peripheral vision” to show how peripheries, and the politics of “peripheralization”, can illuminate processes of neoliberalization and the implications that this has for anthropological knowledge production. We argue that anthropology is uniquely situated to examine the conceptual blind spots produced by capitalism. By recasting “peripheral vision” as an analytic concept and methodological tool, we show how cultivating our ethnographic sensibilities to identify and hone in on events and processes that lie beyond our immediate field of vision can provide a useful antidote to the seductive fantasies of contemporary capitalism. In doing so, we also suggest how this approach can help counter some of the increasing strictures on knowledge production and narrowing of the research imagination that neoliberal reforms impose.
Crop booms, rural uncertainty, and the neoliberalization of agriculture in South India
Responding to agrarian crisis at home, cash crop cultivators hailing from the South Indian district of Wayanad increasingly engage in the seasonal production of ginger in other states of India. This is a purely profit-based and unsustainable crop boom that takes a toll on both labor and the environment. This ethnographic analysis of speculative ginger cultivation situates this emerging economic complex in the regional political ecology, farming practices, individual farmers' hopes and aspirations, and in relation to the qualities of ginger as a cultivar. It argues that ginger is a special kind of boom crop and that its cultivation on large tracts of leased land is the manifestation of a moment of agrarian uncertainty and the neoliberalization of agriculture in South India coproduced by the properties of ginger. As a neoliberal boom crop, ginger exemplifies a regime of flexibilization of agrarian accumulation that has proved a profitable move for some, but has brought financial ruin and debt traps for many others.