Austerity and the Politics of Becoming
journal contributionposted on 26.09.2018, 11:06 by Akwugo Emejulu, Leah Bassel
In this short contribution, we attempt to explore the ways in which austerity measures–deficit reductions through tax increases and cuts to public spending–generate unexpected political subjectivities among women of colour activists in Britain. In particular, we ex-amine how the dramatic cuts to public spending and the privatization of public services simultaneously subject women of colour by further destabilizing their already precarious economic position and create new possibilities for women becoming radical agents for social change. We argue that the dynamic for mapping this process of women of colour becoming new (or, at least, different) political agents is found in the often times disrespected and devalued social relations of caring and care work (Erel, 2011). We argue that caring for and about Others is a dual process of subjectivation through the (re) privatization of care through the roll back of the social welfare state and a politics of becoming which generates new solidarities for collective action among women of colour.Taking seriously the dynamics of women of colour’s activism under austerity matters because it disrupts the binary in EU studies scholarship that privileges a focus on the macro politics of EU institutions over the lived experiences and outcomes at the micro-level. By intruding into this space to tell a different kind of story about austerity politics,it might perhaps be possible to reframe how we think about the ongoing economic crisis,whose interests are served by governing institutions and how we might think differently about resistance to the crisis–beyond the tropes of documenting a populist far-right back-lash. We begin by first mapping the changing landscape of austerity and its disproportion-ate impact on women of colour in Britain. We then turn to explore how women of colour confront the challenge of care by investigating how care acts as both a barrier to public space and as the fulcrum for a new public politics.