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

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

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

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


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.


This collection of essays is the culmination of a collective process of inquiry that took place over a series of workshops and a conference. As with many exciting intellectual projects, our efforts to bring together cutting-edge scholars around the theme of accumulating insecurity and securing accumulation were realized through the generous contributions of the participants and the financial support of numerous others. We are deeply appreciative of the support extended to us by a host of Cornell institutes and special programs that recognized the unusual interdisciplinary character of the project and embraced the risk of supporting it. Our sponsors included Cornell’s Africana Studies and Research Center; College of Arts and Sciences; Dorothea S. Clarke Program in Feminist Jurisprudence, Cornell Law School; Institute for European Studies; Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies; Office of the Provost; Peace Studies Program; Polson Institute for Global Development; Rose Goldsen Lecture Series; Society for the Humanities; University Lectures Committee; and the Departments of Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Development Sociology, History, and History of Art. They each deserve a special thank you. We are particularly grateful to Brett deBary and Tim Murray for appreciating the connections we sought to make between the humanities and social sciences.

The workshops and conference benefited from the participation of Rebecca McLennan and Bulent Diken, and from public lectures by Marita Sturken, Allen Feldman, and Michael Geyer. To each we extend our appreciation for joining and enriching our conversation. Students from Binghamton and Cornell Universities also raised a host of interesting questions during the conference that enhanced discussion and contributed to the vibrancy of these discussions.

During our meetings we benefited as well from the artistic contributions of An-My Lê’s Small Wars: Explosion (1999–2002, Gelatin silver print courtesy of Murray Guy Gallery, New York). She allowed us to use her print on a poster announcing our first workshop. We thank Cathy Klimaszewski, Associate Director, Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, for facilitating this use and for opening the museum to us for a private tour of An-My Lê’s exhibit. We also thank Renate Ferro who shared her provocative video installation, Facing Panic, during our second workshop.

Unusual about this project was the additional contribution garnered from . . .

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