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The panel explores financial precarity and indebtedness as means of governance and everyday experience that shape agency, subjectivity and social hierarchies. It examines how norms and power structures underlying economic practices are reproduced and contested on various scales.
Against the backdrop of austerity politics, welfare retrenchment, financialization as well as the rise of social movements calling for social justice and debt relief, anthropologists draw on concepts such as reciprocity (Palomera 2014, Sabaté 2016), self-sufficiency (Gudeman/Hann 2015) and thrift (Färber/Podkalicka 2019) to critically explore the current momentum and variations of neoliberalism. In the light of this broader context, the panel focusses on financial precarity and (over)indebtedness as both means of governance and everyday experience. By bringing together ethnographic inquiries from various contexts and fields, we seek to explore how economic practices, as well as their underlying normative imperatives and power structures are reproduced and contested on different scales. In this respect, we are interested in both less visible, everyday acts of coping and resisting as well as collective forms of protest and counter-discourse. We seek contributions that will address - but are certainly not limited to - the following questions: How do people engage in or resist becoming financialized subjects? How is financial precarity and (over)indebtedness entangled with constructions of citizenship, deservingness, membership and identity politics on the one hand, and agency and subjectivity on the other? Which means of resistance are considered as (il)legitimate and which inherent power asymmetries emerge within these acts of framing? We particularly welcome papers exploring financial precarity and debt from an intersectional perspective, focusing on the entanglement of social categories such as gender, ethnicity, class, age as well as papers examining the dynamic interplay of COVID19 and the moral economy of debt/financial precarity.