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The politics of distributed agency: livelihood struggles beyond abstract potentials and capabilities 
Patrícia Alves de Matos (CRIA-ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)
Gerhild Perl (University of Trier)
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Sian Lazar (University of Cambridge)
Wednesday 24 July, -, -, Thursday 25 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

The panel invites historically and ethnographically informed inquiries into the distributed nature of agency in the context of legacies of austerity and the rigid distribution of wealth. It aims to rethink “agency” through its situated, embodied, affective, relational and emphatic dimensions.

Long Abstract:

Agency is primarily understood as a property and capability of structures or individuals made possible by autonomy, self-realisation, deliberate choice, and independence. This panel aims to rethink the nature of agency in the context of the legacies of austerity and the rigid distribution of wealth, which has deepened inequalities, reconfigured the relations between citizens and the state, shaped kinship relationships and accelerated the effects of cumulative crisis.

This panel invites contributions addressing the following questions: How does agency, or the potential of agency, emerge within crisis contexts shaped by accelerated economic processes and largely untouched distribution and taxation policies? How do differentiated calculations, valuation regimes, and imaginaries inform and affect the agentive capabilities of individuals, households, collectives and institutions? How do distinct visions of macroeconomic futures generate differentiated agency capabilities in accessing essential livelihood resources and tools for asserting claims?

This panel aims to assemble historically and ethnographically informed inquiries into the distributed character of agency. Against a thin conception of agency tied to rational individual deliberation, this panel builds on comparison and ethnography towards decentring agency from the ends of personal choice, freedom, and autonomy without being oblivious to issues of power, inequality, oppression and differentiated patterns of obligations and responsibilities. Against an ideal of agency constituted by abstract capacities and potentials, this panel’s contributions will re-value the affective, situated, embodied, relational and emphatic acts and bounds sustaining, promoting and restoring individual and collective agency needs and claims within and against historical relations of subordination inequality and exclusion.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -
Session 3 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -