Drawing on a mix of political, economic, literary, and filmic texts, Crisis Cultures challenges current cultural histories of the neoliberal period by arguing that financialization, and not just neoliberalism, has been at the center of the dramatic transformations in Latin American societies in the last thirty years. Starting from political economic figures such as crisis, hyperinflation, credit, and circulation and exemplary cultural texts, Whitener traces the interactions between culture, finance, surplus populations, and racialized state violence after 1982 in Mexico and Brazil. Crisis Cultures makes sense of the emergence of new forms of exploitation and terrifying police and militarized violence by tracking the cultural and discursive forms, including real abstraction and the favela and immaterial cadavers and voided collectivities, that have emerged in the complicated aftermath of the long downturn and global turn to finance.
He analyzes the relations between finance, cultural production, formation of racial identity, state violence, corporatism, subjects, and collectives.
Brian Whitener’s Crisis Cultures constitutes an indispensable contribution to the field of finance-based analysis of culture, not just because of its solid theoretical and factual grounding, but also because of its timeliness. The book provides an insightful approach to the cultural marks left by a decades-long crisis and the coexistence of surplus capital with surplus population.
Riveting and timely, Whitener offers a bold path forward for scholars, students, and members of the public stunned by Brazil and Mexico’s descent into profound crisis, torn by exploding state violence, narco-criminalization, social militarization, economic crash, and political alienation. Distinct from other authors who analyze the global economic origins of crisis, Whitener generates a captivating and convincing vision of the role of culture and subject formation in creating a new set of feelings, perceptions, and imaginaries that undergird this age of banking, credit, and debt instruments.
Whitener’s work is outstanding. He brings to the table an archive that is not very well known in Latin American cultural and literary studies circles. Specifically novel is his command of regionally specific Mexican and Brazilian economic discourse. Whitener’s particular way of weaving together economic discourse, theoretical concepts, and historical context in order to read some of the better known Mexican and Brazilian cultural texts produces original interpretations that challenge some of the key concepts in the field.”