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Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime

Predatory lending of subprime mortgages targeting the most economically vulnerable minority communities helped trigger the current global financial crisis. This special issue of the journal American Quarterly explores the ways in which "subprime" becomes a racial signifier in the current debate about the causes and fixes for a capitalism itself in crisis. It signifies both the accumulated dispossession of racial exclusion in the twenty-first century gilded age in the United States and Global North more broadly, as well as the imperial ambitions of three decades of U.S.–led neoliberal rule over the Global South. Essays are divided into sections: debt, discipline, and empire; the pathologies of debt; and security, space, and resistance in the post-racial urban setting. Focusing on race and empire, that is, on racial and global subjugation, the contributors expose the ethical-political underpinnings of the current global financial crisis.

Contributors include:Radhika BalakrishnanJordan T. CampPaula ChakravarttyOfelia Ortiz CuevasSophie Ellen FungDaniel J. HammelJames HeintzBosco HoZachary LiebowitzTayyab MahmudJohn D. MárquezPierson NettlingC. S. PonderSarita Echavez SeeShawn ShimpachDenise Ferreira da SilvaCatherine R. SquiresMichael J. WattsElvin Wyly

About the Authors

Paula Chakravartty is an associate professor of communications at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Denise Ferreira da Silva is a professor of ethics and director of the Centre for Ethics and Politics at the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary, University of London.


Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime is a timely and important volume for anyone who— scholar or citizen—wishes to understand the calamity of our neoliberal, casino financial system and the outlook for true democracy in the U.S. today. Though born of a very particular historical moment, the volume will be of enduring significance for the snapshot it gives of the state of the art in American Studies. Here is interdisciplinary, politically committed scholarship in full blossom—as significant for its moment as a volume like Kaplan and Pease's Cultures of U.S. Imperialism was for its own.

- Matthew Frye Jacobson, Yale University

The brutal and persistent reach of financialization is now self-evident: from the ravages of Greece and Spain to foreclosed homes in California to microfinance suicides in India. This book is a brilliant intervention in how we understand the global economy, for it reveals the the imperial histories and racial geographies of such dispossession. Most important, Chakravartty and Ferreira da Silva have made postcolonial theory vitally relevant for the analysis of what too often passes under the moniker of neoliberalism.

- Ananya Roy, Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty & Practice, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development

The subprime, bearer of blemished credit, embodies race under the sign of finance. The regimes of risk that inhabit states, cities, homes and screens invite a glut of debt and an unruly discipline. We learn this and so much more from the arresting analyses assembled in this volume. The critical knowledge gained counters the moralism that has provided an alibi for the violence of empire and a corrective to the failure of vision that could not see what was coming. This book is a wager on a future that we must repossess.

- Randy Martin, New York University

9781421410012 : race-empire-and-the-crisis-of-the-subprime-chakravartty-ferreira-da-silva
Paperback / softback
344 Pages
$33.00 USD

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