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A Cultural Political Economy of Crisis Recovery: (Trans-)National Imaginaries of 'BRIC' and the Subalterns in China, Economy and Society

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2013
JournalEconomy and Society
Volume42
Number of pages24
Pages1-24
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article explores discourses and practices of crisis recovery from a cultural political economy (hereafter CPE) perspective. It examines the imaginaries used by (trans-)national and/or intergovernmental forces in identifying and promoting alternative road to recovery. Specifically, it focuses on how entities such as international investment banks, economic strategists, international organizations, think tanks, intergovernmental agencies, and business media, have (re-) imagined the role of the ‘BRIC’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies as drivers of recovery in the context of financial crises in the USA and Europe. The article has five parts. Part one briefly addresses the rapidly developing literature on ‘cultural economy’ and the ways in which the proposed CPE approach can add to a micro-macro understanding of (financial) (dis-)orders. Part two applies this approach to the roles of nodal (trans-)national forces in making, negotiating and circulating ‘BRIC’ as an economic imaginary. Part three addresses the structural/material contexts in which the BRIC discourses were popularized by private and public sector actors in response to the continuing financial crisis that became visible in 2007. In this conjuncture, the BRIC economies were identified as sites that could facilitate ‘economic recovery’. This imagined recovery was made more credible when the BRIC countries developed their own stimulus packages. China was seen as leader of the pack here and its large national package was described by one international economist (Lardy) as ‘gold standard’ (see below). Part four examines how this package intensified some deep-rooted tensions in central-local relations such as the commodification of land and intensification of the ‘property bubble. This harms China’s subaltern groups in various ways, illustrated below by the cases of ‘house slaves’ and the plight of migrant workers’ children. Part five comments on CPE’s contribution to understanding the micro-power relations involved in constructing hope as well as on some macro-structural issues involved in attempts to stimulate recovery.