Economics

Worlding Austerity: The Spatial Violence Of Poverty

The enforced poverty of austere capitalism continues to wreck the worlds we inhabit. These worlds are built with a variety of social infrastructures: houses, pipes, schools, parks, libraries, and other sites of coexistence. Austerity, in turn, is spatialized and experienced across this built environment – slashing the potential of everyday worlds to provide a dignified life. By ‘worlding’ austerity, I thus argue that violence against the built environment – or what I term ‘slow urbicide’ – is simultaneously a violence against people. My focus is on the UK, and housing in particular, where government austerity continues to inflict an insidious spatial trauma. As spatial beings, our physical and mental wellbeing is bound to the landscapes we inhabit. If these landscapes are ruined by government cutbacks – compounding the already violent production of neoliberal space – a deep world alienation and insecurity can set in. I thus reflect on the ruined social and psychological geographies of austerity. But I also offer a positive political vision: an imperative to work for the world and repair the blasted landscapes of our coexistence. The paper finishes by outlining a new right to the world: a rallying cry to flourish in more dignified spaces.

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Volume 37 Issue 6