Producing peripheries: the Southern European crisis in historical perspective
(Universitat de Barcelona)
Theodora Vetta (Universitat de Barcelona)
Paper short abstract:
Current inequalities emerging across class and space in Southern Europe are not only the product of austerity programs but also their productive basis. A historical overview will be provided to highlight how differentiation processes are both renewed and transformed.
Paper long abstract:
In this introductory paper, we will focus on the four countries of Europe's southern periphery that have been at the center of the eurocrisis for the past years: Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. Current processes of dispossession are highlighting the historically peripheral role of these countries in the development of Western European capitalism, or what some theorists call their 'semiperipheral' position in the world economy. The financial crisis has exposed the economic and political fragility of the European project, revealing that the sovereign debt and financial crises of Southern Europe are inextricably linked to historically longer processes of capitalism formation and transformation.
Yet here we want to think of periphery not in mere geographic terms but rather as a conceptual tool that conveys the gamut of forced collaborations that the reproduction of capital involves at many different scales. The ways in which disadvantaged people are asked to make sacrifices, and how they deal with them, vary when different forms of division are accounted for. Processes of differentiation are not simply the product of austerity programs: they are also their productive basis. In the course of the presentation we will outline some of the clear inequalities that are emerging across class and space, while paying attention to how old historical trends common to the south of Europe are being simultaneously reproduced.
Forced collaborations: collective responsibility and unequal sacrifice in a Europe in crisis