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Accumulating Insecurity

Violence and Dispossession in the Making of Everyday Life

Shelley Feldman

Publication Year: 2011

Accumulating Insecurity examines the relationship between two vitally important contemporary phenomena: a fixation on security that justifies global military engagements and the militarization of civilian life, and the dramatic increase in day-to-day insecurity associated with contemporary crises in health care, housing, incarceration, personal debt, and unemployment.

Contributors to the volume explore how violence is used to maintain conditions for accumulating capital. Across world regions violence is manifested in the increasingly strained, often terrifying, circumstances in which people struggle to socially reproduce themselves. Security is often sought through armaments and containment, which can lead to the impoverishment rather than the nourishment of laboring bodies. Under increasingly precarious conditions, governments oversee the movements of people, rather than scrutinize and regulate the highly volatile movements of capital. They often do so through practices that condone dispossession in the name of economic and political security.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This collection of essays is the culmination of a collective process of inquiry that took place over a series of workshops and a conference. As with many exciting intellectual projects, our efforts to bring together cutting-edge scholars around the theme of accumulating insecurity and securing accumulation were realized through the generous contributions of the participants and the financial support of numerous others. ...

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Introduction - A New Politics of Containment

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pp. 1-23

Over half a century ago, Hannah Arendt, reflecting on the human condition in the wake of the horrors of the Holocaust, insisted that explanations for it were not to be found by fixating on the extraordinariness of political evil. Instead, she urged us to consider the banality of evil, the everyday practices and normal people who perpetrate the mass destruction of humanity.1...

PART ONE: Rights in Suspension

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1 From the Welfare State to the Militarized Market: Losing Choices, Controlling Losers

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pp. 27-48

By the end of the twentieth century, the ideology of the free market was a powerful force pushing back against the growth of the welfare state both in the United States and around the globe. According to that ideology, welfare state policies spread neither prosperity nor security, but instead sacrificed individual freedom for government control. ...

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2 Poverty as an Everyday State of Exception

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pp. 49-78

Among developed nations, the United States boasts one of the highest rates of per capita income, while maintaining the highest child poverty rate and one of the highest overall poverty rates (whether measured in relative or absolute terms). Income inequality is widening, as our national policies over the last three decades have doubled the share of aft er- tax income going to the top...

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3 Beyond Displacement: Gentrification of Racialized Spaces as Violence--Harlem, New York, and New Orleans, Louisiana

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pp. 79-103

The collusion among state, private, and institutional actors generates insecurity between primarily poor and working-class Black people in U.S. urban centers and secures accumulation among mostly economically affluent White populations through the practice of gentrification. Beyond the acquisition of property and accumulation of wealth on the one hand, and massive displacement of Black residents on the other hand...

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4 Schooled In/Security: Surplus Subjects, Racialized Masculinity, and Citizenship

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pp. 104-121

In 1986, Attorney General Felix Nunez instituted the nation's first program of "zero tolerance," impounding all seagoing vessels found carrying any trace of drugs in American waters. Soon after, the language and spirit of zero tolerance pushed inland to become a chief technology in the United States' War on Drugs. ...

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5 Dispossessing Law: Arbitrary Detention in Southern Thailand

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pp. 122-137

At 3:30 a.m. on June 23, 2007, a group of ten police and army officials rattled the gate outside the house of M., a young father, Muslim, and Thai citizen living in Narathiwat. Along with Yala, Pattani, and four districts of Songkhla, Narathiwat is one of the southernmost border provinces of Thailand under martial law and emergency rule. ...

PART TWO: Fugitive Corporeality

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6 Spectacle of Terror, Spectacle of Security

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pp. 141-165

In his "Address to the Nation" on the evening of September 11, 2001, and persistently reiterated thereafter, George W. Bush enunciated the self-congratulatory litany by which we were to understand that "the terrorists" were obsessed with "America" and targeted it because it is "the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world." ...

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7 Securing Life: Human Trafficking, Biopolitics, and the Sovereign Pardon

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pp. 166-184

The end of the cold war saw the reemergence of human trafficking on the global political agenda as a new security threat integrated in a continuum of organized crime, illegal migration, drug trafficking, and terrorism. The words of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (2007) echo this logic: "The threat to the United States posed by criminal organizations engaged in smuggling of any kind cannot be overemphasized. ...

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8 Surveillance and Securitization: The New Politics of Social Reproduction

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pp. 185-211

Surveillance has long been a topic of political, social, and ethical debate. This is no more self- evident than in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and, more particularly, aft er the passage of the Patriot Act on October 21, 2001.1 While current crises, and so- called crises, have reframed the character and practice of surveillance, earlier discussions, too, explored techniques of surveillance. ...

PART THREE: Displacement of Politics

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9 Securing the Market of War: The Middle East Partnership Initiative1

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pp. 215-239

The rhetoric of war and terror is the hallmark of George W. Bush's administration.2 Even the most serious skeptics would agree that President Obama's Cairo speech marked a shift in presidential tone (see Nordland 2009). Yet this shift was already initiated by the Bush administration when Bush announced his umbrella program of reform...

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10 Accumulating Insecurity among Illegal Immigrants

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pp. 240-260

Early in 2008 a small Iowa farming community found itself on the front page of the nation's media. The town, Postville, was home to the largest Kosher meatpacking plant in the country, the employees of which were immigrants from Mexico and Central America. On May 12, it was also the locus of the Bush administration's largest single- site raid of undocumented workers (Des Moines Register 2008). ...

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11 Protest-as-Violence in Oil Fields: The Contested Representation of Profiteering in Two Extractive Sites

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pp. 261-284

At a 2008 conference on violence in the Nigerian oilfields a colleague referenced the final passage of Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart to highlight the problematic use of the term pacification as a strategy for "resolving" the Niger Deltan crisis. In that passage a colonial official reflects on the suicide of the novel's hero, Okonkwo. ...

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12 National Security versus Public Safety: Femicide, Drug Wars, and the Mexican State

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pp. 285-297

In 1994, a handful of women and their corresponding civic organizations spearheaded a political movement against violence in northern Mexico. Their initial protests sought to call attention to the violence that stalked women in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, the border city famous for its export-processing maquiladoras, young female workers, and nightclubs. ...

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13 Capitalizing Humanity: The Global Disposition of People and Things

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pp. 298-319

In the wake of September 11, 2001, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there has been a spate of books by theory scholars in the humanities on pressingly "real" geopolitical issues of violence, terror, and war that seem to suggest a turn in theory today away from the so-called linguistic or representational turn begun by the reception of so-called French poststructuralism in the English-speaking world. ...


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pp. 321-324


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pp. 325-339

E-ISBN-13: 9780820339511
E-ISBN-10: 0820339512
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820338729
Print-ISBN-10: 0820338729

Page Count: 318
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation
Series Editor Byline: Nik Heynen, Deborah Cowen, and Melissa W. Wright, Series Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 719387786
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Accumulating Insecurity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Violence -- Social aspects
  • Violence -- Psychological aspects.
  • Social change -- Psychological aspects.
  • National security -- Psychological aspects.
  • Internal security -- Psychological aspects.
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