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Title:“How much are our lives worth?” Water, reproduction, and geographies of American austerity
Author(s):Heil, Melissa
Director of Research:Wilson, David
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wilson, David
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McLafferty, Sara; Miraftab, Faranak; Hackworth, Jason
Department / Program:Geography & Geographic InfoSci
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Austerity policies have been a dominant governance strategy in America’s rustbelt cities since the 2008 financial crisis. These policies call for balanced budgets, reduced expenditures, and deepened dismantling of public resources (e.g., shuttering of social service programs, selling-off of public assets) to bolster government budgets and economies. Austerity policies advance a socially regressive redistribution of resources. It is a governance agenda which relies on logics of division to construct “others” who will bear the burden of restoring government budgets to a place of fiscal health. This dissertation examines the execution and impacts of austerity governances in a study of two rustbelt cities, Flint and Detroit. Two issues are examined. First, it interrogates the techniques used by austerity governances to divide people and construct certain populations as debtors who can be subject to dispossession in the name of economic necessity. Such dispossessions rupture people’s rhythms and practices of survival in their day-to-day lives. Second, this project chronicles the changing spaces, practices, and politics of social reproduction that follow from implementing austerity as non-state actors (e.g., non-profits, activists, individuals) take on increased responsibility to provide for human welfare. Together, this research uncovers a complex constellation of knowledges, practices, and imaginaries that are invented and mobilized to drive austerity and excavates their outcomes in the realm of social reproduction.
Issue Date:2020-04-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Melissa Heil
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-27
Date Deposited:2020-05

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