AUSTERITY AND ANTI-AUSTERITY BEYOND CAPITALISM
During the global economic crisis of 2008 many observers predicted that austerity economics would be discredited and abandoned, but over the ensuing decade it demonstrated surprising resilience. In fact, austerity (both the theory and the policy) has long been debunked by scholars and resisted by a variety of social actors, yet it has persisted in the face of these challenges.This conference at the University of Michigan will explore the history of opposition to austerity, both uncovering heretofore overlooked forms of resistance and using those conflicts to better understand the nature of austerity itself. We are convinced that this economic ideology has a deeper and broader history than is commonly recognized. Though typically associated with neoliberalism, austerity has appeared as a central theme within a variety of economic frameworks across time and space. Our working assumption is that austerity should not be seen exclusively as a feature of neoliberalism or late capitalism. Instead, we hope to re-conceptualize this ideology as a more pervasive economic doctrine enacted and challenged at different historical junctures and across different economic and political systems.
Over the past decade there has been a wave of path-breaking scholarship revealing the commonalities that linked capitalist and socialist economies across what has been traditionally called First, Second, and Third World. We seek to expand on this bourgeoning reappraisal of economic systems. Increasingly, we are coming to realize that capitalism and socialism shared a great many features in these region—including the foundational assumptions that drive doctrines of austerity.Along these lines, our conference will emphasize how austerity and anti-austerity clashed both within and beyond liberal capitalism, and thus seek to better integrate the temporal and ideological binaries of political economy: pre-industrial and industrial, capitalist and socialist, communist and post-communist, developed and underdeveloped etc. In particular, this will involve discussion of how a politics of anti-austerity was both imagined and articulated in opposition to a variety of austerity programs around the world. We will investigate the potential of anti-austerity movements to topple governments, collapse political orders, and to affect other forms of change in society, both in direct and visible ways as well as through protracted and less obvious struggles. This will also incorporate the failed attempts and arrested possibilities to displace austerity as a dominant socioeconomic formation.
We invite papers from all academic disciplines and welcome especially contributions that go beyond the well-publicized anti-austerity movements in North America and Europe. We encourage submissions from early-career scholars and graduate students, as well as from established specialists in these topics.