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Accumulating Insecurity

Accumulating Insecurity: Violence and Dispossession in the Making of Everyday Life

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 318
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  • Book Info
    Accumulating Insecurity
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3951-1
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: A New Politics of Containment
    (pp. 1-24)

    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 For Arendt, political evil was located in alienation, the historical dynamic of capitalist modernity, and the substance of its moral economy. This emphasis directs our attention to the myriad ways in which accumulation practices order life, as well...

  5. PART ONE Rights in Suspension

    • CHAPTER ONE From the Welfare State to the Militarized Market: Losing Choices, Controlling Losers
      (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. That story contrasts the welfare state with a free market where individuals rule by exercising the power to choose. In that storied market, decentralized voluntary exchanges based on competitive calculations of individual gain add up to maximize overall resources, so that individual self-interest benefits society...

    • CHAPTER TWO Poverty as an Everyday State of Exception
      (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 after-tax income going to the top one percent of households and have tripled the income gap between rich and poor.¹ Economic insecurity is widespread, with two-thirds of all Americans turning to welfare at some point between the ages of twenty and sixty-five, and 90...

    • CHAPTER THREE Beyond Displacement: Gentrification of Racialized Spaces as Violence—Harlem, New York, and New Orleans, Louisiana
      (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, this chapter emphasizes the physical, psychological, cultural, and political traumas that are consequent from the forced removal of long-term residents of gentrified communities. The notion of gentrification as a benign and natural population shift that benefits all members of the community belies...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Schooled In/Security: Surplus Subjects, Racialized Masculinity, and Citizenship
      (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. Spearheading an era of unprecedented penality, zero tolerance policies have been central in the radical reshaping of life trajectories for African American men, prompting their incarceration rates to soar during the 1980s.¹ Zero tolerance policies demand automatic and severe punishment for a wide range of infractions. They resonate with the...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Dispossessing Law: Arbitrary Detention in Southern Thailand
      (pp. 122-138)

      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. Once M.—and his wife, mother-in-law, and two children—were awake, the officials asked him to open the gate and then for permission to search the house. After half an hour, the officials concluded that there were no illegal items or suspects...

  6. PART TWO Fugitive Corporeality

    • CHAPTER SIX Spectacle of Terror, Spectacle of Security
      (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.” Soon this claim was embellished with the contention that “these people can’t stand freedom; they hate our values; they hate what America stands for” (Bush 2001a). The events of September 11, 2001, enabled the Bush administration and the full mass-mediated panoply of spectacular public discourse to repeatedly...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Securing Life: Human Trafficking, Biopolitics, and the Sovereign Pardon
      (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. By exploiting vulnerabilities in border integrity, these criminal smuggling organizations, whether they traffic in humans, narcotics, or counterfeit merchandise, are an unquestionable threat to the security of the United States.” While the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Surveillance and Securitization: The New Politics of Social Reproduction
      (pp. 185-212)

      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, after 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. And, like today, they were troubled by the increasingly thin line between the imposition of security measures and the curtailment of civil liberties and personal freedoms, and between public accountability and the erasure of privacy. Well before September 11, 2001,...

  7. PART THREE Displacement of Politics

    • CHAPTER NINE Securing the Market of War: The Middle East Partnership Initiative
      (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: the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), aimed at an area stretching from Morocco to Pakistan. Established in December 2002, MEPI followed a political rationality of “soft” reforms through enhancement of citizen-entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, and capacity building of “civil society,” as a means to uproot “terrorism” and spread...

    • CHAPTER TEN Accumulating Insecurity Among Illegal Immigrants
      (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). Over 10 percent of the community’s population of 2,300 was incarcerated from one day to the next. As one resident stated, it was “like a natural disaster, only manmade” (Hsu 2008). The lead agency, Immigration...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Protest-as-Violence in Oil Fields: The Contested Representation of Profiteering in Two Extractive Sites
      (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. The colonial officer felt he had learned a number of things from his experiences: “One of them was that a District Commissioner must never attend to such undignified details as cutting a hanged man from a tree. Such attention would give the natives a...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE National Security versus Public Safety: Femicide, Drug Wars, and the Mexican State
      (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. The protestors came to call this violence “femicide” (feminicidio) to refer not only to the crimes but also to the impunity provided by the state and enjoyed by the criminals. Over the next ten years, the antifemicide protestors generated criticism of the Mexican government, at all levels, for its failure...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Capitalizing Humanity: The Global Disposition of People and Things
      (pp. 298-320)

      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. Such a conclusion is misleading because these geopolitical phenomena are analyzed in exactly the same theoretical manner as before: they are acts, processes or institutionalized structures of repression or oppression that function by means of...

    (pp. 321-324)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 325-340)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 341-341)