Do Marxists Talk about 'Poverty Alleviation'?

Do Marxists Talk about 'Poverty Alleviation'?
22 Jun 2018, 17:30 to 22 Jun 2018, 19:30
IHR Wolfson Room NB01, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Professor Suman Gupta , Open University

Liberal usage of the terms ‘poverty’ and ‘poor’ (and their equivalents, 'disadvantaged', 'excluded', 'marginalised' etc.) contains a preoccupation with the political state’s responsibility towards persons within its jurisdiction. The terms generally attach to policies and programmes to address a part of the dominant political order without disturbing its received structure -- in, so to speak, its own terms. The liberal register pertains to the body of scholarship which passes as 'poverty studies' or 'social exclusion' research. However, these terms resonate somewhat differently in other ideological registers, and could, for instance, be elaborated to question the legitimacy of the liberal political state and to call for its replacement. These terms might thus be interrogated so as to sharpen revolutionary socialist subscriptions – or, for that matter, anarchist. The experience and visibility of poverty has often been the impetus for revolutionary socialist formations, in industrial and agrarian societies as in coloniser and colonised contexts. But the terminology has been different -- 'proletariat', 'lumpenproletariat', 'working class'. This presentation consists in a searching and admittedly incomplete socio-linguistic exploration of terms for 'poverty' in the socialist register, and in (post-)socialist contexts (or, at least one such context).

Suman Gupta is Professor of Literature and Cultural History and Head of the Department of English and Creative Writing at the Open University. He has coordinated several international collaborative projects with partners in China, India, Iran, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Cyprus on themes such as globalization and social conflict, experiencing austerity, and the politics of English Studies. Books include: Usurping Suicide: The Political Resonances of Individual Deaths (2017, co-authored with Katsarska, Spyros and Hajimichael), Consumable Texts in Contemporary India (2015), Imagining Iraq: English Literature and the Invasion of Iraq (2011).


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