This panel features papers that ethnographically analyze how disaster capitalism influences economic and material life of people and their moral economies, as well as the uneven spaces for change that may undermine the structured coherence upon which this neoliberal trend depends.
The anthropology of disasters has for nearly a decade been studying the trend of relying on the private sector to deal with catastrophes and other forms of large-scale devastation, also known as "disaster capitalism". Ethnographic studies in different contexts prove that state and nongovernmental institutions often seize opportunities afforded by crises to advance policies that strongly reshape economies, livelihoods, and affected populations' access to spaces and natural resources. Indeed, this trend of making instrumental use of catastrophe to empower capitalist interests can increase vulnerability for many affected peoples. This can add new layers of precarity to the material and subjective experience of disaster, at times when people are too busy reeling from the disaster to reasonably anticipate or contest the consequences of these measures. Nevertheless, the ways in which neoliberal trends take shape locally depend heavily on the political and economic contexts within which catastrophic events take place and social relations existing in a place. In this panel we draw on the Marxist-oriented notion of "neoliberalism as creative destruction" for studying existing neoliberal maneuvers in the wake of both so-called natural and human-mediated disasters. We invite papers that ethnographically analyze how disaster capitalism influences economic and material life of people and their moral economies, as well as the uneven spaces for change that may undermine the structured coherence upon which this neoliberal trend depends. Capital "accumulation by dispossession", in fact, can occur only through chance discoveries and provisional compromises in the wake of intense sociopolitical struggles.
'Capitalising the local and no lights in the dark': extreme weather, neoliberalisation of local knowledge and new 'paradoxes of participation' in local community storm response activities in the UK