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Governing Homo Subprimicus: Beyond Financial Citizenship, Exclusion, and Rights

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Abstract

The paper presents an alternative to scholarship on the distributional politics of finance that emphasizes citizenship-based claims to new financial rights. To compensate for the dominance of exclusion-based etiologies of financial marginality in financial geography, I reframe financial exclusion as a problem of financial government—that is, as a problem of conducting the conduct of risky populations without threatening the security and autonomy of financial markets. Drawing on Foucault's distinction between technologies of discipline and security, I describe how barriers to the extension of financial government create tiered processes of financial subject formation. The inchoate “subprime’ financial subject produced is the correlate of a specialized financial governmentality—a homo subprimicus eminently governable by financial means. I close by calling for greater attention to questions regarding the relationship between technologies for valorizing bare life, new systems of financially mediated value extraction, and emerging capitalist class processes.

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