EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006

(W010)

Comparing local Thatcherisms

Location Chem LT2
Date and Start Time 21 Sep, 2006 at 11:30

Convenors

Anthony Marcus (John Jay College of the City University of New York) email
Andrew Dawson (University of Melbourne) email
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Short Abstract

This workshop considers the ways in which Thatcher, Thatcherism and Thatcherite projects have developed, diffused, interpenetrated, complemented, combated and consolidated in national/local embodiments of neo-liberalism.

Long Abstract

Between 1979 and 1990 Margaret Thatcher led the transformation of British economy and society, putting her among the most admired and hated politicians of the 20th century. A recent poll ranking the 100 greatest living Britons ranked her first, while a poll ranking the 100 worst put her third. Commentators have endlessly picked over every angle of the politico-cultural struggle she waged in the UK for the hegemony of neo-liberal economics, but there has been less focus on the ways in which Thatcherism informed similar projects across the world. Before the Washington consensus could impose its famous ten-point programme of neo-liberalism, the Downing Street discord prepared the way, through an ideological, political, social and economic Kulturkampf. Thatcherism, in its multiple forms, has been imported into countless locales around the planet, creating wildly different, but strangely parallel, national local Thatcherisms, with their cultural particularities and their congruent and complementary agonists. This workshop seeks a complement of cultural and ethnographic readings of political case studies of local Thatcherisms from around the globe, in order to compare, contrast and discuss the ways in which Thatcher, Thatcherism and Thatcherite projects have consciously and unconsciously developed, diffused, interpenetrated, complemented, combated and consolidated in national/local embodiments of neo-liberalism.

Papers

Thatched roofs and Thatcherism: the application of neo-liberalism in a Pacific state

Author: Mary Patterson (University of Melbourne)  email
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Long Abstract

Maggie Thatcher came to power just as the new nation state of Vanuatu was emerging from its colonial past as the New Hebrides. In the first decade of its Independence, Vanuatu saw Britain, if not France, continue its withdrawal from the Pacific region only to reemerge in the Thatcherite policies applied by the aid donors and international agencies that made neoliberal structural adjustment a condition of continued support.

This paper explores the application of these policies and local reactions to them. Aid donors like Australia and the US with a declared interest in regional stability and now security, use concepts like 'good governance' and sound economic management rhetorically as moral carrots and sticks for the continuance of Aid while corruption and increasing inequalities between urban and rural communities are seen as indices of state failure. I argue that the measurement by aid donors of 'good governance' and 'civil society' as guides to state health limits an examination of the premises on which these moral models rest and inhibits an understanding of the way in which neo-liberal economic policies both reinforce and destabilize local assumptions about success, value and worth and their consequences.

American local Thatcherism and the homeless crisis

Author: Anthony Marcus (John Jay College of the City University of New York)  email
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Long Abstract

For a decade from 1983 to 1993 homelessness was a major concern in the United States. In 1994 this public concern suddenly disappeared, despite no significant reduction in the number of people without proper housing. By ethnographically and historically examining the making and unmaking of a homeless crisis this paper will explore how public understandings of what constitutes a social crisis were shaped by hegemonic misunderstandings of poverty, race and social difference combined with neo-liberal politics to create an American local Thatcherism that was different from, similar to, and ultimately informed by its British variant.