RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


335 Encountering Austerity (3)
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Economic Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Ruth Raynor (Durham University, UK)
Esther Hitchen (Durham University, UK)
Chair(s) Rachel Pain (Newcastle University, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract This panel seeks to explore the multiple and networked relations of austerity (however conceptualized) by considering how austerity is encountered in everyday life. What are the specific relations between austerity and partly connected social-spatial formations and processes for example family and friendships, banking and debt, housing, organisations of paid and unpaid work? How is the spatiality of the everyday made and remade in relation to austerity, in parks, staff rooms, homes, a twitter feed, through an atmosphere or mood and so on? And how might we engage with how austerity is felt or (or not) as a series of encounters across multiple spaces? How does austerity effect (interrupt, suspend, intensify or disassemble) existing infrastructures, ideologies and processes that meet and fold into everyday life? When do the effects of austerity fail to register as austerity in or beyond their scene or moment of encounter and why? By paying attention to austerity’s entanglement with other processes and formations in the everyday, this session will explore its multiplicity, its incoherence, its moments of consolidation, its temporal, rhythmic and affective life. Relatedly, we consider how anti-austerity activism works or attempts to work as a strategy of consolidation to produce shared encounters with austerity. If austerity is entangled in other formations and processes, how to practice critique in relation to it? How to research and/ or represent austerity even as it is lived as a series of fragmented and fragmenting forces, as it constitutes and sometimes hides the unravelling of existing sites or scenes, becoming, for example, an empty staff room, a pre-emptive strategy that wasn’t enacted, or a form of continuation amidst privatisation? Conversely, when and/or how is austerity related to in everyday life as a shared event, as a political ideology, and/or as a centrally implemented fiscal strategy? What happens when it produces sites and scenes, for example food-banks, abandoned development projects, or queues outside of financial institutions?
Linked Sessions Encountering Austerity (1)
Encountering Austerity (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Imagining a safer future: Story telling and domestic violence policy in times of austerity
Jo Little (University of Exeter, UK)
This paper examines the making and re-making of services for those encountering domestic violence (DV) within the day to day challenges of austerity politics in the UK. It reports on the work being done by a partnership of policy makers, practitioners and academics to create new and detailed understandings of DV and to develop innovative responses to tacking what is recognized to be a growing problem. The paper explores how the use of story telling (as discussed by geographers such as Parr and Stevenson, 2014) can provide fresh understandings of the needs of those living with violence and help to appreciate the complexity of their lives in shaping responses. Building on practices of story telling the research also examines how understanding the nature of violence through ethnographic methods can inform the process of supporting 'victims' and 'perpetrators' of domestic violence, generating therapeutic responses and more positive and visionary ideas for managing abuse and violence in the future.

Gender and the geographies of austerity activism
Eleanor Jupp (University of Kent, UK)
This paper will argue that 'austerity' has not taken hold in the UK as collective mood or atmosphere in the ways predicted by earlier commentators (eg Clarke and Newman 2012). Rather state retrenchment and economic insecurity have mostly been experienced in an increasingly privatised and fragmented way; framed partly by the widespread 'othering' in media and policy discourses of those most affected (Jensen & Tyler 2015) but also perhaps by the personal and embodied nature of its impacts (food, illness, work, housing). Against this background the paper explores the notion of a set of gendered political responses to austerity, drawing on analysis of the ways in which women in marginalised communities enter and sustain activism (eg Staeheli et al 2004). The paper draws on examples of young women as housing activists and from fieldwork with migrant women in London to explore the potentials and limitations for forms of activism based on registers of vulnerability, trauma and embodied everyday experience.

Encountering austerity
Lynne Friedli (Boycott Workfare)
Nina Garthwaite (Queen Victoria Seamen’s Mission, UK)
This session will be a direct encounter with 5 people at the sharp end of austerity - residents of Queen Victoria Seamen's Mission (QVSR) a hostel for ex-seafarers, ex-servicemen, and homeless men. During 2015 we held three afternoon tea debates with QVSR residents as part of Hubbub's exploration of Rest and its Opposites, asking: 'work for your benefits: is that fair?'; 'what's wrong with work?'; 'is rest possible?' A core group of the men have taken a significant ownership of these "Afternoon Teas". This now informing our ongoing work. They recently came to Wellcome to present informally to the Hubbub group. The discussion was considered extraordinary by all. In particular, it provoked participants to reconsider both their own experiences of work and the value of work ethics as poets and unemployed digger-drivers exuberantly competed over who was to be crowned the most lazy. Through this dialogue, we found ourselves reframing questions about austerity, often in radical and unexpected ways. We would like to extend this process at the symposium. This presentation will take the discussion format, allowing participation from the audience led largely by the men themselves. Based on previous experience this discussion will prompt new dialogues, rather than simply present previously gathered work. We're particularly interested in the relationship between talk and action, for example in Ivor Southwood (Manual Labours) and Kathi Weeks' explorations of transforming 'complaints' into 'demands' as a process for politicising frustrations at work. So we intend both engagement and the possibilities of action.