Understanding “Neoliberal Spatial Violence” As a New Mode of Production

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:18
Oral Presentation
Lipon MONDAL, Virginia Tech, USA
This paper aims to examine how violence, both subjective and objective, produces and sustains a particular mode of production in a neoliberal urban space. The article thus uses two sets of data (came from fieldwork in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during the summer 2017): (1) 65 life histories collected from the poor who have been living since the 1980s in inner-city slums located in the 500-meter buffer zone on each side of a one-mile long street (i.e. Panthapath), and (2) a slum survey conducted in this particular area (which finds 147 slums built on privately owned lands, of which 72 slums are on grabbed/disputed lands).

The empirical evidence purports the “neoliberal spatial violence” as a peculiar type of mode of production due to its embeddedness in the violent processes of capital accumulation. This accumulation process has at least four dimensions. First, this process evicts urban poor from their lands or homes. Second, the very process brings back those evicted poor to live in the commercially built tin-shed slum-houses and forces them to pay a high rent for a 216-252 cubic feet room without any window/ventilation (where 4-7 people usually live) and compels them to share one kitchen, one bathroom, and one toilet with 50-80 people. Third, it forces the poor to live under constant threat to their health and lives and punishes those who appear to be a threat to illegal housing (and drug) business. Fourth, it violently dispossesses the poor from all forms of capital and keeps them in extreme poverty across generations, confining them to a “lifetime prison cell” as tenants.

By reflecting on Marxist spatial theories, Galtung's idea of structural violence, and Žižek's conception of systemic violence, this presentation argues that violence qualifies to become a "new mode of production" in the era of neoliberal globalization.