April 23-24, 2021 | Unsettling Accounts: Intersectional Approaches to the Politics of Debt

April 12, 2021

Join the Pembroke Center for the virtual symposium "Unsettling Accounts: Intersectional Approaches to the Politics of Debt" on Friday, April 23rd and Saturday, April 24th.  This interdisciplinary symposium examines the politics of debt within the histories and contemporary processes of racial capitalism, dispossession, colonialism, and gender oppression.
The symposium will feature presentations by Rocio Zambrana, Sarah Muir, Joanne Meyerowitz, Neferti X. M. Tadiar, Denise Ferreira da Silva, and Cheryl I. Harris. Q&A sessions will be moderated by the symposium's organizers: Hannah Frydman, the Shauna M. Stark '76, P'10 Postdoctoral Fellow; Nicolás Sánchez-Rodríguez, the Carol G. Lederer Postdoctoral Fellow; and Sa Whitley, the Nancy L. Buc '65 Postdoctoral Fellow.

Debt operates in unsettling ways as a mode of social control and discipline across axes of race, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and ability. Debt also underwrites settler colonialism and the “afterlife of slavery” along with the state and financial services industry’s dominant discourses of liberal citizenship, heteronormative domesticity, and criminality. Whether we speak of the foreign debts charged against postcolonial countries of the Global South, the skyrocketing levels of household debt, mass incarceration, or the ubiquity of microlending narratives seeking to turn dispossessed populations into entrepreneurs of themselves, contemporary biopower seems to be inextricably linked to the the making of indebted people.
With interdisciplinary, intersectional, and transnational modes of analysis and critique, the symposium has three primary aims:

1) to ask urgent questions about how we account for the ontologies, histories, and mechanisms of “debt” as both a conceptual and a financial construct;
2) to point to new ways of unsettling these accounts of debt in the past and in our present era of Covid-19 (which has exacerbated reliance on predatory credit markets for the most marginalized among us); and
3) to articulate collective imaginaries of liberatory futures--ones in which an unsettled account might mean something entirely different.

Friday, April 23, 2021: 2:00-3:30 pm
"Debt in Latin America's Neoliberal Age"
Panelists: Rocio Zambrana and Sarah Muir
Friday, April 23, 2021: 4:00-5:30 pm
"Feminism, Gender, and Debt"
Panelists: Joanne Meyerowitz and Neferti X. M. Tadiar
Saturday, April 24, 2021: 12:00-1:30 pm
"Unpaid Balances: Blackness, Debt, and Racial Capitalism"
Panelists: Denise Ferreira da Silva and Cheryl I. Harris