What is Neoliberalism?
275 Madison Avenue, Suite 2114
New York, NY 10016
Although long used in everything from policy discussion in international institutions to economic and business analysis to academic studies in politics, economics, and far beyond, the concept of “neoliberalism” has recently become a subject of extreme controversy. Some claim that no such thing exists—it’s merely an epithet containing no meaningful content, description, or insight. Others say it doesn’t contain enough—it is merely a minor subcategory of capitalism not deserving of any special or particular analysis. How should we understand such a contested term? Why, when the term has been used for decades, has “neoliberalism” suddenly become so controversial? What, if anything, is neoliberalism?
In this course, we’ll examine analyses of neoliberalism from a variety of perspectives: law, economics, intellectual history, politics, cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, and more. We’ll explore a nested doll of ideas, histories, and studies: neoliberalism as a set of international legal and treaty arrangements; neoliberalism as a set of political and economic ideas; neoliberalism as a program and state-level policy; and neoliberalism as a cultural logic or way of life. What has changed over the past four decades and what has not? How should we understand the rise of finance and new capital mobility? Can the paradigm of neoliberalism help us understand the political and cultural projects of the past forty years? What is our most capacious understanding of neoliberalism, and does it give us analytic and explanatory power of the world in our current moment? Does a concept that contain multitudes become meaningless? Readings will be drawn from Quinn Slobidian, Philip Mirowski, IMF and other international body reports, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig Wittgenstein, David Harvey, Wendy Brown, Michelle Williams, Anna Tsing, Patrick Heller, among others.
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm
October 14 — November 04, 2019