I am developing a new body of work based on my dissatisfaction with dominant narratives about financialization, which pose it as an altogether new phenomenon and understand it narrowly as an economic problem. Inspired in part by my recent move to Thunder Bay (Canada), where the anti-Indigenous violence of settler-colonialism is quite literally deadly, I have been trying to better understand how speculative capital is part of the picture. I’m also deeply interested in how the capitalist and colonial order of punitive and exploitative debt and credit is entangled with race and racism and with the history of the theft of land. And I’m interesting in what this all might mean for how we strategize to overcome these interconnected scourges.
I’m pleased that two pieces of my writing on this topic are going to be published in the coming months: “The uses of financial literacy: Financialization, the radical imagination, and the unpayable debts of settler-colonialism” and “Beyond the violence of colonial civility: The art of Raven Davis”
“The uses of financial literacy: Financialization, the radical imagination, and the unpayable debts of settler-colonialism” will be published in the November 2017 issue of Cultural Politics (13.3). You can download an advanced copy here.
This paper is a contribution to critiques of the mainstream trends in financial literacy education and argues that they typically produce a profound financial illiteracy by obfuscating the systemic and structural dimensions of debt, financial hardship and the patterns of financialization, thus reaffirming a neoliberal trend to privatize social problems. I explore how this financial illiteracy dovetails with the production of “white ignorance” and the erasure of the racialized injustices of contemporary global capitalism. While the case study of financial literacy educational materials targeting Indigenous people in Canada largely confirms this approach, it also gives us clues as to what another, better financial literacy might look like. The paper concludes by asking what a financial literacy education for the radical imagination might look like, and what the further decolonization of that education might imply. It ends with a celebration of settler-colonial bankruptcy as a moral and political-economic opening for a radical way forward.
“Beyond the violence of colonial civility: The art of Raven Davis” will be published late this year or early next in a collection from Valiz tentatively titled The Art of Civil Action edited by Pascal Gielen and Philip Dietachmair. You can download an advanced copy here.
This chapter takes up the recent work of interdisciplinary Anishinaabe artist Raven Davis as a way to explore the tensions around the notion of civility and civil action in the colonial-settler state of Canada. Focusing on Davis’s provocative interactive and political performances in the east-coast city of Halifax in 2017 (the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation), the article traces the ways in which “civility” and related notions have been used as ideological weapons against Indigenous people, culture and political autonomy, both historically and in the present. It does so by briefly examining the colonization of Mi’Kmaqi (lands along what is now Canada’s eastern shore) as well as the contemporary use of “civility” as a means to defame and castigate social movements in Canada such as Idle No More, Black Lives Matter and for Palestinian human rights.