Editing a special issue of TOPIA on “The Financialized Imagination and Beyond”

C.K. Wilde  - Against the common good- After Goya - 2006
C.K. Wilde – Against the common good- After Goya – 2006 – http://www.alternatingcurrency.com/

I will be co-editing a special issue of the journal TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies (no. 29, Fall 2013) with the inestimable Jody Berland.  The call for papers (Click here for PDF – TOPIA – The Financialized Imagination):

CFP: The financialized imagination and beyond

Special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies

Edited by Max Haiven and Jody Berland

Narrowly defined as the so-called “FIRE” industries (high finance, insurance and real estate), finance has gained tremendous power over the global economy in recent years.  Critics describe “financialization” as a profound and far-reaching social and cultural shift.  Advances in financial modeling, computing and communications technology have changed the nature and power of financial speculation, but the vast expansion of new forms of debt, credit and everyday financial services have also had dramatic impacts on daily life.  From credit cards to sub-prime mortgages, from student debt to the privatization of pensions, from pay-day loans to online stock trading, financial practices have become mainstream cultural issues. Films, biographies, novels, television shows and web-texts about finance and financiers (lionized or demonized) are more popular than ever. Logics of finance inform and shape public policy and social institution, from hospitals and schools to science and cultural production, with “risk management,” “return on investment,” and “market efficiency” key weapons of the neoliberal lexicon. Driven in part by immaterial, speculative, leveraged wealth, capitalism normalizes precarious labour and life in both material and immaterial forms, and each of us is expected to manage our risk portfolios and embrace a life of endless speculation. While the politics of debt, predatory lending and speculative capital have long shaped geopolitical realities, especially in the developing world, the unapologetic “age of austerity” threatens a new intensity of inequality and exploitation, with dramatic human and ecological consequences.

Facing continuous global financial crisis and new social movements emerging to contest this “age of austerity,” cultural studies has important questions to ask about the financialized imagination. How is “finance” represented in fiction, film, journalism, and art?  How is finance itself a form of “representation” as well as a cultural phenomenon driven by beliefs, narratives, and technologies?  How do representational technologies contribute to the production of wealth? How do we explain the charisma of the speculator, the valorization of “risk management,” and the fetishization of “financial literacy” under hyper-neoliberalism? What are finance’s effects on cultural production and the political economy of culture? How is the rise of digitized financial power related to the global play of material and immaterial economics, labour and culture? How is financialization connected to and expressed through race, class, gender, sexuality, colonialism, imperialism and ablism?  What are the geopolitical and affective consequences of financialization?  How do we historicize and “periodize” financialization, and what is at stake in analyzing what Marx called “fictitious capital”?  What are the effects of financialization on everyday culture? How is debt linked to politics of precarity, disposability, or borders? Are there ecologies of financialization? How does finance’s tremendous power to commodify potential futures as present-day “risk” affect how we imagine the future?  What are the contours and limits of the “financialized imagination?” Have we moved from a society of the spectacle to a society of speculation?  What lies beyond?

Social movements such as the Occupy movement and, more broadly, anti-austerity struggles from Athens to Chile, Nigeria to India, Korea to Montreal have been waging cultural struggles over the meaning of debt, the uses and abuses of banking, and the nature of economic power.  Critical films, fiction, blogs and other genres seek to probe finance, financialization and the financial crisis, with varying degrees of success.

TOPIA invites contributors to propose academic articles, shorter “offerings”, reviews and review essays for a special issue on the “financialized imagination and beyond.”  Themes and topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Cultural representations of finance, financialization, financiers and the financial crisis in and across media
  • The cultural politics of debt and credit in everyday life: government spending, ecological debt, and debt as a paradigm of social discipline.
  • Finance as representation of space, time, knowledge, culture, materiality or immateriality
  • Calculation and the new common sense: the fate of futurity, the cultural idiom of speculation and the practices of “risk management”
  • Finance capital(ism) and the politics and economics of cultural production – the financing of culture
  • The cultural politics of crisis
  • The interplay of oppressions (gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, citizenship) and finance, from racialized predatory sub-prime lending to women-focused microcredit schemes, from the “Wall Street Man” to the legacies of debt-bondage and slavery
  • The roots and legacies of colonialism and imperialism in finance (and vice versa)
  • The financialization of daily life and social institutions
  • The cultural and affective dimensions of finance, financial labour and financial speculation: how are cultures of speculation built and reproduced?  What does financial wealth represent? What kinds of affects and sensations are produced by wealth through speculation, display, or loss?
  • Tension and interplay between material and immaterial capital, labour and culture, money and power
  • Historical precedents and patterns of finance and financialization – narrating events from Tulip Mania to the collapse of the Asian Tigers; from the speculative value of enslaved Africans to the predatory sub-prime mortgage industry that thrived on inner-city poverty
  • Struggles against finance, financialization and austerity, and their spaces, strategies, narratives, potentials and limits
  • Horizons beyond the crisis

TOPIA offers three streams for contributors:

  • “Articles,” maximum 9000 words (peer reviewed)
  • “Offerings” up to 3000 words, including photo-essays, interviews, dialogues, and other inquiries (peer reviewed)
  • “Reviews”: book reviews 1500-2000 words, review essays 2500-3500 words

Prospective authors should submit a 300-word proposal, accompanied by a brief biographical note, to the editors by September 15, 2012.  Selected authors will be invited to prepare articles by February 15, 2013, with publication dependent on the peer review process.  The issue will be published in Winter of 2013.  More information can be found at TOPIA’s website, http://www.yorku.ca/topia.

Please direct proposals and queries to Max Haiven at maxhaiven[at]nyu[dot]edu, and to Jody Berland at jberland[at]yorku[dot]ca.

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