March 19, 2015
This one-week summer program will focus on the spatial manifestations and consequences of the ongoing European debt crisis. Since the global credit crisis of 2008, brutal austerity programs implemented in return for loans from external sources such as the World Bank and the European Central Bank have led to massive cuts in public expenditure and growing unemployment; these cuts have in turn fueled downturns through collapsing revenues and large-scale disinvestment. Indeed, the precipitous decline has led widespread “accumulation through dispossession,” where devalued, and even abandoned public assets have been sold at a fraction of their former value to speculators operating at the front edge of a wave of state-enabled privatization. The liquidity crisis that now extends across all levels of government has had dramatic effects on the urban environment, not only through the growth of homelessness, and the deterioration of public infrastructure in cities across Europe, but also the collapse of public services needed to address the human consequences of austerity. The unequal distribution of debt across the European context has reinstated a corrosive north-south inequality divide that the EU – at least in its more optimistic founding rhetoric – was intended to help eliminate. The growing political crisis in Greece and the emergence of new fissures against austerity policies in France, Italy, and Portugal point towards a new phase in the struggles around the continuing implementation of neoliberal austerity programs, which may well involve the collapse of the EU in its current form.
Coordinators: Greig Crysler (University of California, Berkeley, USA) and Tiago Castela (Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal)