Winter 2014

Geog 542 & 578: Graduate Seminar in Relational Poverty

(from Spring 2016)

Our seminar reads relational poverty theory (Hickey, 2009; Mosse, 2010; Green, 2006; Goode and Maskovsky, 2001), which argues that poverty and privilege are mutually constituted: that poverty is not a category or position, but a set of relationships and a site of conflict, crisis, and contestation. Relational poverty analysis explores how poverty is produced by capitalist, white supremacist, sexist and heteronormative institutions and rules; by political-economic processes and through identity-making (by middle classes, elites, policy makers, religious or sectarian nationalists).  Relational poverty analysis counters theoretical closures in dominant poverty knowledge, to instead theorize impoverishment as produced through intersecting power relations of race, caste, class, identity, coloniality, ability and gender. The course examines contemporary and historical poverty knowledges and the geographical/political-economic contexts in which they emerge.  We explore relations between poverty and privilege, focusing on poverty politics, spaces of encounter, and alliance politics across the globe.  We will read a diverse range of case studies (drawing from network researchers) that engage innovative approaches to rethinking poverty in relation to social differences and in rural and urban places.  The seminar engages with the activities of the relational poverty network (RPN); an international, interdisciplinary and collaborative network of poverty scholars committed to expanding poverty research for actions to challenge poverty and inequality.  Relational poverty analysis attends to forms of agency and possibility of those named as poor (and their allies) that are often theoretically obscured (by social scientists, politicians and practitioners) who frame poverty as a category marked by political apathy, outlaw status, ungovernability, and pathological families and behaviors. 

Send questions about this workspace to Sarah Elwood.