Economies of Race, Queer Households and the Crisis

Abstract for a panel at the Seeing through Empire’s new clothes – Extending strategies for anticapitalist struggle against the economic crisis, September 13, 2009. 

For fascists, Keynesians and socialists of various persuasions, capitalism is bad when it extends credit to those who cannot – or, worse: will not – repay the debt. That is, capitalism is not bad because it’s exploitative, but because (in its expansive moments) it sets up crises of its own reproduction by not guaranteeing productivity (ie., exploitation) into the future. The repayment of debts, even if fictive, is the pivot of capitalism’s moral economy. And yet, the Global Financial Crisis indicated the extent to which that moral economy was inoperative – it signalled the power and threat of the minor within the highly strung circuits of financialisation. The suprime market was, for the greater part and as much as is known, composed of women – Latina and African-American women in particular, most of those recorded (in the language of demographics) as living in ‘non-normative’ arrangements or as ’single-parent households’. There was also some talk of undocumented migrants being given housing loans. We can talk about some of that in the session, about all of it, or more. If you’re inclined, there are some links to readings below.

What we would like to do in the workshop is have a conversation about households, genealogy and property. We would like to rethink politics not in the first instance as riot, demonstration or strike (though those can be fun and effective, at times) but in the ways we live. The questions here might be about the re-organisation of households as real estate, or the household as the new frontier of finance (eg, the NT Intervention, the political rise of the mortgage biblebelt, gentrification, Rudd’s “working family”). Or the nation-state as domestic economy and as (racialised, gendered) home, or the recent repatriations of migrant labour, or the familial-national politics of groups such as Nationalist Alternative. Or the legitimation of sexuality as the reproduction of property and its transmission (as with Gay Marriage, or the proper cultivation of children as future workers). Or the history of queer households, the meaning of “queer money,” and why the film Paris is Burning is about the political-economy of Houses and Passing. Or struggles over domestic unpaid labour and its distribution inside and outside the household, across borders and through migration policy. Or squatting and occupation, or how the expansion of financial products into the household was a response to an escape from the patriarchal-familial form of the Fordist household. Or about how the normative household and its meshing of sex, intimacy and genealogy (in race, nation, and legitimated offspring) authorises the partial distributions of the wage. There are a lot of threads to explore, if anyone cares to. But, above all, we would like to begin from the politics of intimacy and its architectures, that most seemingly unspectacular of matters that precipitated a crisis of global capitalism.

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