Assembling Financial Subjects in the Slum

Assembling Financial Subjects in the Slum

A current focus of international urban development policy that has emerged over the past decade or so is ‘slum-upgrading’. While the social, environmental and physical conditions of poor neighbourhoods of post colonial cities – referred to as slums or shantytowns – have long been the concern of international urban development policy, slums have generated renewed attention since the UNHabitat report (2003) The Challenge of Slums, and in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, one of which refers explicitly to improving the lives of slum-dwellers.

The purpose of the talk is to try to shed some critical light on the international ‘slum-upgrading’ agenda. The international slum-upgrading initiative appears technocratic and humanitarian, but is considered here as a form of political intervention with specific goals. A number of lines of inquiry or analysis will be sketched, for example: considering the content, imagination and purpose of current slum-upgrading policies in relation to colonial urban policy; and identifying the neoliberal principles embedded within the slum-upgrading agenda. Drawing on Foucault’s work this is conceptualised in terms of neoliberal governmentality. Specific initiatives to encourage saving and borrowing on the part of ‘slum-dwellers’, thus (perhaps) to constitute the slum-dweller as a financial subject, are considered.

01 – FEB, 2011 – 1pm – - – RHB 312, Goldsmiths

Branwen Gruffydd Jones is lecturer in International Political Economy in the Department of Politics, Goldsmiths. Part of her current research focuses on the politics of neoliberal urbanism in African cities. She is author of Explaining Global Poverty: A Critical Realist Approach (Routledge 2006) and editor of Decolonising International Relations (Rowman and Littlefield 2006).

This entry was posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 6:28 pm
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