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date: 24 April 2018

Neoliberalism and Contemporary Anglophone Fiction

Summary and Keywords

The problem of capital and the question of its appropriate or desired relationship with political life and civil society shapes how readers, authors, and citizens understand and experience everyday contemporary life and its cultural products. Capital, in its post-1945 incarnation, is widely held to have been either in a state of crisis or responding to crisis (both historical and contemporaneously). Depending on the critic, these crises and their impacts are varied: the collapse of the 19th-century European balance of power, the rise of Keynesian economics, the birth of biopolitics, the Cold War and the specter of Communism, the repeating “systemic cycles of accumulation” endemic to the history of capitalism. This variant of capitalism that shapes contemporary life goes by many names, though the general consensus tends to call it “neoliberalism.” Despite its varying names, neoliberalism is generally held to be an economic doctrine that understands human freedom to be best achieved through free markets and entrepreneurial enterprise, privileging the individual above all else. Government should, therefore, be minimal; its role is to enforce the rules of the game but not to interfere in it. Neoliberalism is thus both revolutionary in its insistence on rethinking social life as solely economic life and an extension of long-standing values and arrangements of economic life that date back centuries.

Contemporary fiction takes part in debates about the hyper-individualized neoliberal subject and neoliberal values in a multitude of ways and at a variety of scales. The predominant way is in its interrogation of neoliberal identity politics—either to reinforce or critique, or something in-between, the possibilities for subject formation under neoliberalism. At another remove from the individual text has been the challenge to long-standing genre conventions, particularly in the novel. If modern novelistic genres rose alongside earlier modes of capitalist accumulation, contemporary authors are reimagining them to reflect changing rationalities. Finally, at the meta-textual level, there has been a variety of critical attention given to publishing, its infrastructures, and the role of the artist for both the appearance and success of texts. Across all these approaches—both imaginative and critical—is a commitment to an ongoing examination of the ways neoliberalism in all its varied impacts inflects “how we live now.”

Keywords: neoliberalism, post–WWII fiction, economic approaches, the contemporary, politics, genre

The first scene in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth fully from the point of view of Irie, the mixed race daughter of Archie and Clara, focuses on her physical alienation from the bodily expectations of English femininity, triggered by an ad inviting her to “lose weight to earn money.”1 Her mother’s “European proportions … had skipped a generation,” and Irie instead inherits her grandmother’s “substantial Jamaican frame.”2 Irie’s embodied feelings of isolation stem from the complicated intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality, and are particularly heightened by her futile infatuation with Millat, the son of her father’s best friend, Samad. However, in seeing this ad, she sees a way out of her isolation through self-care and investment. If she transforms herself through an infusion of capital, she will both “fit” within English identity and be desired by Millat: she desires the “straight straight long black sleek flickable tossable shakable touchable finger-through-able wind-blowable hair. With bangs” of the English objects of Millat’s desire.3 This advertisement acts as a catalyst, leading Irie to begin to understand herself—she is interpellated—as a neoliberal subject, one for whom physical appearance is properly a market choice. Her first foray into the world of self-improvement-via-cosmetology does not go well and she is reminded of the bodily cost both to herself—her scalp is burned by the ammonia used to straighten her hair—and others—the sobbing South Asian woman who sells her hair to make the weave that replaces Irie’s chemically burned hair.4 This pattern of economic decisions as the path to transformation and success continues throughout the rest of the novel, particularly around Irie’s narrative as she aspires to the Chalfen family’s middle-class Englishness. While this novel is frequently read by critics in terms of its engagement with British multiculturalism, diaspora identities, and seemingly celebratory metropolitan cosmopolitanism, Smith’s novel is also carefully attentive to how contemporary economic rationalities pervade the everyday experience of identity in its many forms and variants. Smith’s novel is occasionally dismissed as overly optimistic and celebratory of a multicultural London. Reading the novel with an eye to its engagement with neoliberal realities, however, points to a more ambivalent ethos at play. In fact, it repeatedly reminds us of the way market decisions encroach on all decisions, particularly those of the second-generation characters, born into a world of entrenched neoliberalism.

The economic doctrine generally named “neoliberalism” has many starting points: the end of the “Hundred Years Peace” (in Europe, at least) in 1914, the separation of Germany into East and West, the aftermath of World War II and the start of the Cold War, the effective end of the Bretton Woods system in 1971, the CIA-backed Chilean coup that put General Pinochet in power and introduced massive “structural adjustment,” the nearly parallel elections of Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States. That these various dates cover a span of nearly seventy years—to say nothing of earlier origin points in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—speaks to both the ubiquity and ephemerality of what we typically mean by neoliberalism (indeed, alongside these varying starting points, there are similar varieties in naming practices). And while, for some critics, this slipperiness offers a compelling argument for the subsequent inoperability of the term, we might also see this very difficulty in historicizing and taxonomy as a signal of both the difficulty of periodizing the present and the very real, yet simultaneously nebulous, sense that something seems to have changed about the relationship between subject, economy, and state in the post–World War II era (a feeling only heightened in the aftermath of the various economic “shocks”: the oil crisis of the late 1970s, the recessions of the early 1990s and late 2000s).5 Despite its varying names, neoliberalism is generally held to be an economic doctrine that understands human freedom to be best achieved through free markets and entrepreneurial enterprise, and thus privileges the individual above all else. Government should, therefore, be minimal; its role is to enforce the rules of the game but not to interfere in it. Neoliberalism is thus, on one hand, revolutionary in its insistence on rethinking social life as solely economic life and, on the other, an extension of long-standing values and arrangements of economic life that date back centuries.

Neoliberalism provides one potential way of periodizing the postwar cultural present as it both names a particular arrangement of economic and political power of the period, with subsequent impact on cultural forms, and figures a changing sense of the subject’s relationship to power. Contemporary fiction is, therefore, inflected by neoliberalism in a variety of ways, whether it directly references it or not. In terms of content, form, and production, neoliberalism shapes the operation of contemporary fiction and is thus crucial for scholars of contemporary fiction and culture to understand. What, then, do scholars mean when they talk about neoliberalism? What is its historical trajectory and how does it operate in current literary scholarship? Periodizing contemporary literature as neoliberal opens up a new path for critical focus on the myriad ways contemporary life is shaped by economic rationalities and resulting cultural forms (broadly conceived).

Neoliberal Freedom

The foundation of the Mount Pèlerin Society in 1947 by Friedrich Hayek and attended by, among many others, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Karl Popper is often understood as the intellectual beginning of post–World War II strains of neoliberalism. This group “vow[ed] to stem what they saw as the ‘rising tide of collectivism’—be it Marxism or even less radical forms of state-centred planning [and] sought to revive classical liberalism in their attempt to challenge the dominance of Keynesian ideas.”6 Hayek argued that “that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy”7 and that socialism and collectivism set humanity on “the road to serfdom.” This tension between freedom and servitude as potential endpoints of market and, especially, price controls reflects a recurring preoccupation for neoliberal economists and theorists. Indeed, two key texts by Milton Friedman, the economist at the center of Chicago School-American neoliberalism,8 feature variants of “freedom” in their titles, reflecting its centrality to his model of economic life: Capitalism and Freedom (1962) and Free to Choose (1980).

One of the central aspects of freedom for Friedman and other neoliberals is “equality of opportunity,” understood as a strictly market freedom rather than a moral or ethical one. For Friedman, the market exists outside of history, except as an engine of forward momentum toward a market-driven telos. Any experience of discrimination (which he is at pains to reject and repudiate) occurs when the market is not allowed to operate outside of politics; instead, the claim is that the market, because of its neutrality, works to correct injustice of whatever kind.9 There is no moral or ethical value beyond growth.10 Any notion of a “commonwealth” outside the market is incomprehensible because nothing is outside the market. National parks, for instance, should be under market rather than state control;11 if the public won’t pay for their protection and upkeep under the free market, there is no value to them. Morality and ethics stem from pricing—which, if left to the market, reflects the “true” value assigned to an object—rather than pre-existing principles or intangible values.12 As he states in Capitalism and Freedom:

No one who buys bread knows whether the wheat from which it is made was grown by a Communist or a Republican, by a constitutionalist or a Fascist, or, for that matter, by a Negro or a white. This illustrates how an impersonal market separates economic activities from political views and protects men from being discriminated against in their economic activities for reasons that are irrelevant to their productivity.13

Freedom is thus also dependent upon the separation of the economic and political spheres: “The kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, competitive capitalism, also promotes political freedom because it separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to offset the other.”14 The only role for the state, for Friedman, is to act as “umpire,” enforcing the rules but not participating in the game. Hayak makes a similar argument, suggesting that laissez-faire does not mean the total absence of planning; instead it “emphasizes [] that in order that competition should work beneficially, a carefully thought-out legal framework is required and that neither the existing nor the past legal rules are free from grave defects.”15 There is a clear libertarian thread in much neoliberal thought with its investment in voluntary forms of exchange and belief in personal autonomy and self-determination. To allow the state to determine what should be valued or not is to succumb to forms of paternalism, which, adherents believe, slips easily into totalitarianism: “a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it [gives people what they want] so well. It gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”16 These principles are at the heart of claims such as Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 claim that “there is no such thing [as society]. There are individual men and women and there are families.”17 The individual is—or should be—in charge of their economic destiny. If one wants to be profligate with their resources—innate or acquired—then one must bear the results—good or bad. The subject, then, becomes an economic unit as much as anything else; for instance, in discussing the value of education, Friedman notes “most general schooling adds to the economic value of the student.”18

At the heart, then, of neoliberal freedom are three key beliefs: that the individual is above all else rational and should be as autonomous possible;19 that economic freedom is both the goal and the only way to ensure political freedom; and that true laissez-faire economics, and thus freedom, have never been achieved, which has led to both social and economic crisis. It is only by moving closer to neoliberal ideals that historical unevenness can be addressed.

The Neoliberal Subject

While the Chicago School and other intellectual precursors to contemporary neoliberalism tend to focus on the subject as a straightforward and rational economic actor (“homo economicus”), the rationalities that pervaded these ideologies have had particular impacts on our understanding of the contemporary subject. Michel Foucault’s late lectures on biopolitics and neoliberalism provide a useful point from which to attend to this element of neoliberal life. His work in these lectures and The History of Sexuality considers the experience of liberal modes of power and their transformation into common sense. Foucault traces the complex ways that liberal governmentality produces modes of rationality that privilege the economic. What he illustrates is the way liberalism-as-economic mode is not simply an array of economic arrangements, processes, and structures, but that it pervades and creates processes of social life and subjectivization, particularly via biopolitics, where power is experienced as management designed to preserve life.

Often absent from Friedman and the other neoliberals is an active sense of how exactly the labor force is kept laboring, apart from economic incentives or abstract “other things.” What biopolitics brings to the table is a consideration of how intervention by the state in the health of the population overlaps or coincides with all aspects of life. There is no life “outside” liberalism here, because all non-explicitly economic arenas have become “economized.” For instance, in discussing the transformation of parenting and migration into “investments,” Foucault observes that they are “brought back into economic analysis, not as pure and simple effects of economic mechanisms which extend beyond individuals and which, as it were, bind them to an immense machine which they do not control, but as behaviour in terms [of] individual enterprise, of enterprise of oneself with investments and incomes.”20 What this all works to explain is how the liberal episteme both spreads and sustains itself through its expansion into the sense of the self as subject.21

The figure of homo economicus illustrates how neoliberal values and procedures of powers are naturalized, by embedding rationalities in subjects. Foucault notes that “what we see appearing in the middle of the eighteenth century really is a naturalism much more than a liberalism.”22 This tendency toward naturalism at the heart of neoliberalism is key for understanding both its proliferation and its operation at the level of the subject. Biopower, neoliberalism’s mode of power, “works throughout entire populations and takes on its target, ‘life,’ quite directly.”23 It focuses on life and lifestyles, extending disciplinary power (the preceding mode of power, according to Foucault) beyond acts into subjects; in other words, it concentrates on who one “is” rather than what one “does.” His emphasis on biopolitics, homo economicus, and naturalism points to the way contemporary rationalities diffuse into all aspects of social and personal life; there is no self outside neoliberalism as Foucault conceptualizes it. He notes that “the individual’s life itself—with his relationships to his private property, for example, with his family, household, insurance, and retirement—must make him into a sort of permanent and multiple enterprise.”24

As Nikolas Rose notes, this transformation of the subject leads to new technologies of government—what Foucault terms “governmentality”: “Individuals are to be governed through their freedom, but neither as isolated atoms of classical political economy, nor as citizens of society, but as members of heterogeneous communities of allegiance, as ‘community’ emerges as a new way of conceptualizing and administering moral relations among persons.”25 Power, under biopower, gets experienced as norms, administered by forms of governmentality. This experience of power thus becomes both more all-encompassing and more difficult to see, and, therefore, contest: “We know how to resist sovereignty and developed pretty good tools for resisting within disciplinary regimes (which are aimed at our practices). But how to resist the increasingly ubiquitous power directed at ‘making life better?’”26 What Foucauldian models of governmental biopower offer is an attention to the everyday and micro-practices of neoliberal modernity. Indeed, these forms of biopolitical saturation are particularly the focus of creative critiques of neoliberalism found in contemporary cultural production.

Complicating Neoliberalism

Critiques of and interventions into neoliberal values and structures have, as is to be expected, taken a variety of forms and approaches and focus on different aspects. The common thread is an attention to the complex way economic rationalities intersect with the infrastructure of everyday life and historical aftereffects. While some critiques make use of discourses distinct from those of literary studies and contemporary fiction, they point to frequently parallel forms of critical intervention through the focus on the everyday operation of capital and thus introduce an important inter- or multidisciplinary component to literary criticism and fiction (and, ideally, vice versa). By situating neoliberal capital in a lengthier economic and colonial history, it becomes easier to articulate some of the social forces that shape the trajectory of contemporary forms of capital. At the same time, by embedding capital in particular histories and locations, its ambivalent operation, what Aihwa Ong terms its “exceptionality,” comes to the surface.

One of the striking things about the early theorization of neoliberal values is the marked ahistoricism; there are brief mentions of recent history, such as the 1930s Depression, and occasional mentions of other historical moments, but, for the most part, they are relentlessly presentist in their approach.27 This has the somewhat paradoxical effect of making the creation of modern capitalism seem both inevitable and eternal. While Marx offers the obvious paradigm for investigations of capital in its historical depth, 20th-century economic historians are particularly useful in contextualizing contemporary capitalism in different ways and situating 20th-century capitalism within a series of specific sociohistorical processes and actions. Karl Polanyi, for instance, writing during World War II and thus anticipating rather than describing, neoliberalism, is explicitly invested in analyzing the collapse of “nineteenth century civilization” and the birth pangs of some sort of new modernity—something that might later be understood to be neoliberalism. In The Great Transformation, Polanyi maps the “double movement” of liberal capitalism: a tension between self-regulating markets and desires for social protection. He notes that

the idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia. Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society[. As a result] society took measures to protect itself, but whatever measures it took impaired the self-regulation of the market, disorganized industrial life, and thus endangered society in yet another way.28

Through his attention to the historical operation of programs for social protection that arose alongside “self-regulating markets,” Polanyi rejects claims that humans operate only according to individual, economic self-interest. Indeed, he states categorically that “no market economy separated from the political sphere is possible.”29

Giovanni Arrighi, writing half a century after Polanyi and drawing heavily from his work and that of world-systems theory, similarly locates the market within sociohistorical processes. Arrighi argues that the capitalist world-economy has been characterized by “long periods of crisis, restructuring and reorganization,”30 suggesting that the sense of postwar (and particularly, for Arrighi, post-1970) crisis is neither unique nor unprecedented. Following from Fernand Braudel’s notion of the longue durée of capitalist epochs and Marx’s general formula of capital,31 Arrighi offers a comparative account of “systemic cycles of accumulation,” a comparison which “point[s] to a fundamental continuity in world-scale processes of capital accumulation in modern times. But they also constitute fundamental breaks in the strategies and structures that have shaped these processes over the centuries.”32

Arrighi identifies four cycles of accumulation that take place over long centuries.33 Each cycle of accumulation is made up of two phases: a period of material expansion ended by a “signal crisis” when “the leading agency of systemic processes of accumulation begins to switch its capital in increasing quantities from trade and production to financial intermediation and speculation,”34 a period of financial expansion that is “the preamble to a deepening of the crisis and to the eventual supersession of the still dominant regime of accumulation by a new one … the event … that lead to this final supersession [is] the terminal crisis.”35 The history of capital is, therefore, an oscillating series of material and financial expansions, with each cycle providing the seeds for the subsequent regime.36

In addition to the chronological scope economic historians offer to understand contemporary capital, they also point to its geographical scope in a number of ways, most notably in their attention (with varying degrees of carefulness) to the key role played by various colonialisms in the historical growth of capitalism.37 This spatialization of capital offers another point from which to complicate the experience of neoliberalism: through both a recognition of capital’s colonial past and neocolonial present, and its circulation beyond national borders, with attendant repercussions for the contemporary nation-state. While attention to the links between capitalism and imperialism are not particularly new,38 work by contemporary postcolonial critics demonstrates the particular imperialist character of neoliberalism, both in term of large geopolitical structures and more specific localized practices and infrastructures (particularly those that emerge out of human rights initiatives and philanthropic endeavors).

David Harvey suggests that capitalism “necessarily and always creates its own ‘other’” by “either mak[ing] use of some pre-existing outside [or] actively manufactur[ing] it,”39 often tied to imperial geographical expansion. Historically, “accumulation by dispossession” (Harvey’s reworking of Marx’s notion of “primitive accumulation”40) took the predominantly localized form of enclosing public land, privatizing it and expelling its residents, processes which are still ongoing. But it is now also increasingly tied to “financialization and the orchestration, largely at the behest of the United States, of an international financial system that could, from time to time, visit anything from mild to savage bouts of devaluation and accumulation by dispossession on certain sectors or even whole territories.”41 Accumulation by dispossession, in Harvey’s formulation, then, has become increasingly globalized post-1973.42 This globalized expansion has, thus, amplified already uneven global development; indeed, “it is certainly the case that some of its most vicious and inhumane manifestations are in the most vulnerable and degraded regions.”43

Like Harvey, Samir Amin notes the way global geopolitical structures, and their economic implications, have deliberately worked to peripheralize postcolonial states. He also demonstrates how decolonizing movements still committed to the nation-state form have sometimes failed to provide the autonomy they seem to manifest. He states that the nation-state form “does not always manifest itself as a progressive active agent in capitalist development but as a deviant influencing its development in a negative direction or slowing down its rate,”44 pointing to the structural overlap between capitalist and geopolitical power. The nation-state form, tied to bourgeois parochialism, is frequently incapable of responding to the growing transnationalism of labor, with uneven global effects. Capitalist expansion and its effects are, thus, reflective of both colonial underdevelopment and dispossession, and contemporary neocolonial versions of the same. He proposes, then, “delinking” as a way toward socialism and interrupting colonial and neocolonial hierarchies. “Delinking,” as Amin defines it, means a “pursuit of a system of rational criteria for economic options founded on a law of value on a national basis with popular relevance, independent of such criteria of economic rationality as flow from the dominance of the capitalist law of value operating on a world scale.”45

While Amin and Harvey examine large geopolitical and ideological structures connecting capitalism and imperialism, other postcolonial critics put their focus more firmly on specific neoliberal practices and infrastructures and their impact on the Global South (again, particularly those tied to human rights and philanthropic projects). Perhaps one of the most vocal critics of neoliberalism and its particularly postcolonial implications is Arundhati Roy. Her critique is wide ranging, but a recurring focus is on the ways imperialist aims (both intra- and extra-national) are obscured by forms of neoliberal discourse. In Capitalism: A Ghost Story, for instance, she considers the philanthropic foundations run by corporations that begun “to replace missionary activity as Capitalism’s (and Imperialism’s) road-opening and systems maintenance patrol.”46 She parallels these philanthropic foundations with the deliberate creation of comprador classes in their creation of “an international cadre that believed that Capitalism … was in their own self-interest. And who would therefore help to administer the Global Corporate Government in the ways native elites had always served colonialism.”47

Similarly, Ananya Roy, in her discussion of microfinance (one of the philanthropic tent poles of neoliberal plans for economic self-sufficiency, especially for women in the Global South) illustrates the ways these projects work to produce new neoliberal subjects. Roy outlines, what she terms the “Washington Consensus on Poverty,” which seeks to replace NGO and state-led development with the market, a model which presumes that “financial markets liberate the poor from [the] forms of supervision and surveillance [produced by NGOs and the state]. The democratization of capital is thus about the economic freedom of the poor, about reconceptualising the poor as financial consumers.”48 The residents of the Global South—again, particularly women—become potential entrepreneurs whose creativity has been constrained by poverty. As both Arundhati Roy and Ananya Roy observe, neoliberal models of private philanthropy and individual entrepreneurship work to reiterate long-standing imperial discourses of civilizing and maturing either barbaric or child-like cultures. Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen’s book, Development as Freedom, makes transparent the link between the imperial transmission of neoliberal values attached to developmental advancement. While Sen and others see development as, on some level, ideologically neutral, both Roys and others suggest the more complex way long-standing colonial power dynamics are reinforced and repeated in operation of programs of economic self-improvement in the Global South.

However, while these critiques tend to emphasize the negative impact of neoliberal policies, particularly on the Global South, other critics highlight its more ambivalent repercussions. Aihwa Ong’s characterization of neoliberalism as “exception” is one prominent example of this. She notes that “we could more fruitfully break neoliberalism down into various technologies: the kind of political exceptions that permit sovereign practices and subjectifying techniques that deviate from the established norm.”49 This tension between neoliberalism as exception and the exceptions of neoliberalism “transform the elements we used to associate with a unified concept of citizenship into values placed on humanity that are increasingly varied, fragmented, contingent, and ambiguous, but permanently subject to ethicopolitical critique.”50 By thinking of neoliberalism as a series of technologies of governance and management, it becomes possible to disentangle and differentiate between various sites of impact, as well as to recognize moments of agency and negotiation rather than seeing monolithic ideological control. James Ferguson, similarly, suggests that critics tend to impose blanket globalizing neoliberal critiques on the Global South that obscure “a new kind of inclusion as millions of poor citizens previously ignored or worse by the state have become direct beneficiaries of cash payments.”51 What he terms “the new politics of distribution has felt the need to ‘deliver’ a range of goods and services to people whose claims are increasingly based neither on labor nor its reproduction but instead on such things as citizenship and political pressure.”52 As he notes, these forms of redistribution—cash transfers to citizens not based on prior contributions—echo voucher programs lauded by neoliberals, but “contemporary ‘anti-neoliberalism’ critics seem to struggle to imagine how ideas and techniques with ‘neoliberal’ origins or affinities might contribute to quite different sorts of political and social systems.”53 Ong and Ferguson, among others, thus highlight the complicated operation of neoliberalism in the Global South, which, at the same time, should raise questions about whether neoliberalism operates as straightforwardly in the Global North as some of its critics and proponents might suggest. The various points of critique and intervention all emphasize the complicated lived realities and histories of contemporary capital by both contextualizing and locating it in specific coordinates.

Neoliberal Identity Politics

A key dynamic at the heart of post–World War II conceptualizations of the subject is a rejection of normative essentialism, whether in terms of race, gender, sexuality, or other points of identification in favor of an insistence on the constructedness of subject formation and the subsequent concentration of political groupings around them. Critics and authors alike have worked to disentangle various forms of subjectivization from histories that have constrained them in particularly narrow ways. This production or recognition of contingency and performativity as central to postmodern neoliberal subjectivity, particularly shaped by the work of Foucault and Judith Butler, has led to the expansion of possibilities for action and selfhood, and led to innovative political work and alliances. However, as Jeffrey Nealon notes, to “insist on the hybridity and fluidity of X or Y is the mantra of transnational capital … so it can hardly function unproblematically as a bulwark against that logic.”54 Choice becomes central, in certain modes, for understanding identity formation and performance—yet this is also the very language of consumer capitalism. This tension between the promise of identity politics and its complicity with neoliberal capital is necessarily embedded in the contemporary novel and other forms of cultural production. Walter Benn Michaels suggests, for instance, that “neoliberalism [is] the world in which identity and inequality have both flourished, and which the neoliberal novel simultaneously represents and enables.”55 Cultural producers and literary critics alike have worked to emphasize the way that neoliberal demands placed on the self interact with postwar challenges to essentialized identity, producing a more complicated sense of the subject in context.

A recurring theme in popular narratives around collective identity such as race or gender is their increasing irrelevance in a “post-feminist” or “post-racial” world. As defined by Angela McRobbie, “post-feminism [refers] to an active process by which feminist gains of the 1970s and 80s come to be undermined … through an array of machinations, elements of contemporary popular culture are perniciously effective in regard to this undoing of feminism, while simultaneously appearing to be engaging in a well-informed and even well-intended response to feminism.”56 A similar discourse emerged around race, particularly following the 2008 election of Barack Obama as U.S. president. While equivalent language has not developed around sexuality, exactly, the growing legal success of marriage equality in many, if not most, Euro-North American nation-states implies a similar sense of a world that is “postsexuality.” These attempts to suggest that a variety of civil rights struggles have reached their endpoint have typically worked to, as Jess Butler notes of forms of post-feminism, “provide women with a comfortable, inclusive—and … fundamentally neoliberal—space where they can cultivate individual feminist identities without all the strident negativity of ‘old-school’ feminist activism.”57 Anti-racist and other similar forms of social justice activism are understood as outdated, even unnecessary.

The “post-ness” of identity has been taken up in a variety of ways by authors and critics. One such way has been an examination of how authors have amplified claims of a post-feminist, post-racial world. Angela McRobbie’s work on Bridget Jones’s Diary and the rise of “chick-lit” offers a way to consider how contemporary popular culture geared toward women has worked to naturalize views of a world where “feminism is invoked in order that it can be relegated to the past.”58 At the same time, many authors and critics have worked to criticize the falseness of claims of identity’s end. This might take the form of the “post-feminist dystopias”59 visible in texts like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and, reading somewhat against the grain, Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series in which the idea of choice as the key value of neoliberal feminism is shown to be unsatisfying and pathological, even monstrous. Or, as in Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, where the protagonist’s racial identity is obscured until late in the novel, suggesting the complicated realities that are elided through the claims of post-racial identity and the way race continues to operate even as the world seems to be ending. As Michelle Elam observes, claims of post-racial life, on one hand, are often “view[ed] as a heroic refusal to capitulate to the social ascriptions of race” while, on the other hand, “‘mixed race’ identification is often hailed as a liberatory exercise of free will and choice, as fulfilling that peculiarly American privilege and mandate of possessive individualism.”60 Yet, contemporary novels about racial passing, and thus the complicated operation of race in contemporary life, “testify in some of the fiercest debates about the viability of race in this ‘beyond race’ era.”61 Similarly, Ramón Saldívar notes that “post-race” is a useful category of inquiry for scholars “because it helps identify the historical contradictions in the justification of racial injustice, discrimination, and oppression in terms that can then be related to the form and language of the literary text.”62 As both Elam and Saldívar demonstrate, the language of “post-race” offers a lens through which literary scholars and authors can interrogate the contemporary operation of race “with full ironic force.”63 Post-race fiction responds, then, to “a changing relationship between race and social justice, race and identity, race and history [and] requires American writers of color to invent a new ‘imaginary’ for thinking about the nature of a just society and the role of race in its construction.”64 The corpus of novels identified by Elam and Saldívar point to some of the methods through which authors respond to the operation of neoliberalism through an ironic reappropriation of neoliberal values and practices. Gillian Harkins offers a parallel argument for the operation of postmodern science fiction as “interrupt[ing] neoliberal reifications of all life into specific cultural forms.”65 She notes that in

approach[ing] neoliberalism as a method of periodization aimed at revealing how neoliberalism appears through the cultural formalization of sexualities and genders[,] the cultural forms associated with neoliberalism—the I of the normal homosexual, the empowered woman, the postracial individual, or the innocent child … tell us something specific about the conditions of the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.66

As Harkins highlights, the formulations of the subject central to neoliberalism work to both centralize narrow and fragmented conceptualizations of the self and to emphasize their atavistic redundancy.

Where some authors work to criticize these claims through ironically reappropriating them in order to interrogate the operation of identity under neoliberalism, other authors and critics highlight another aspect of the operation of neoliberalized identity politics: the way the pleasures of diversified identities work to obscure the exploitation and hierarchies on which these pleasures are dependent. Simon During, in a reading of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, argues that “the scandals of the late Thatcher era through which the contradictions between its dissenting, family-based values and its economic neo-liberalism become apparent are darkly intertwined with the dissolution of Nick’s aestheticism and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic.”67 Similarly, Dion Kagan notes that Nick’s likely positive AIDS diagnosis at the end of the novel “represents the incursion of the material (the body) into the narrative and into the relationship of the queer guest with the Thatcherite family: from decorative to wretched and abject.”68 Kagan’s point highlights a key component of neoliberal identity politics: its erasure of the embodied experience of identity and the simultaneous impossibility of this (both because people cannot escape their bodies, even if they wanted to, and the ever more specific policing and surveillance of particular bodies). During puts this clearly: “It’s not so much the closet that helps spread AIDS but that homophobia and the Thatcherite appeal to the old narrow traditions of dissenting morality is so galling because neoliberalism has another ethos too: a welcoming of risk, enterprise, independent of inherited values and hedonism which particularly solicits an urban gay participation, and certainly secures Nick’s participation.”69 Thus while neoliberalism valorizes the potential pleasures and triumphs of risk and enterprise, it resolutely denies social responsibility in the moment of crisis—crises which are often experienced physically, in bodies. This tension, between pleasure and risk, is often central to the representation of life under neoliberalism in much contemporary literature.

While many critics highlight the impact of neoliberal policies and values on large social structures, the experience of them, and their representation in novels and other cultural forms, another aspect of literary criticism that addresses neoliberal identity examines how these policies and values get internalized and normalized. Gillian Harkins’s work on postwar incest narratives offers one way of thinking through narrative as a disruption of neoliberal values. She notes that “even as neoliberalism and trauma announced a break with the past, neoliberal narratives of trauma and recovery seemed poised to reproduce the past in the present tense … marketing a utopian promise for a wounded nation to transcend its violent past.”70 Kathy Knapp similarly observes of the “post-9/11 suburban novel” that these novels “pointedly situate their novels in the formerly safe backyards beyond the crumbled Twin Towers in order to disrupt, deconstitute, and reconstitute the ‘master narrative’ so clearly articulated by the suburban imaginary of the nuclear family and the single-minded pursuit of ‘the good life’ that is firmly located in the detached, single-family suburban home.”71 Yet, as Andrew Hoberek maintains, the professional middle class that populates the suburban novel “emerged in the final decade of the nineteenth century as the first middle-class generation not to define itself through … property ownership, instead attempting to shift the basis of social authority onto management.”72 The arrangement of capital and property and the associated sense of anomie that Knapp identifies with the post-9/11 novel has a long cultural history. As these critics note, these texts highlight the way neoliberalism operates, like all ideological formations, through “common sense” and normalization.

While this scholarship highlights the transformation of immaterial neoliberal values into material, embodied experience around the operations of sexuality and class, it is similarly visible in neoliberal discussion about multiculturalism and racism. David Theo Goldberg notes that, following World War II and its revelation of “scientific” racism taken to horrific limits, European societies “sought to expunge race from social reference … at home. But this rejection presupposed racial conception and its political order to be predicated pretty much exhaustively on its naturalistic and biologistic interpretation.”73 But in appearing to reject these naturalist discourses on race (which have by no means disappeared), both the socioeconomic realities of people of color and racism itself became expressions of individual character—a claim which has its own naturalism built into it. As Goldberg succinctly puts it: “In short, race is now circulated more readily and openly in private spheres than in formal public ones.”74

Indeed, neoliberal discourses about race tend to coalesce around patterns of multicultural consumption,75 “mask[ing] the centrality of race and racism to neoliberalism.”76 It is this very pattern of consumption practices that “obscure[s] the racial antagonisms and inequalities on which the neoliberal project depends”77—antagonisms which parallel those structured by gender, sexuality, gender identity, ability, and other points of subject formation. Multiculturalism encourages the objectification and subsequent circulation of racial and ethnic cultures divorced from both contemporary and historical context. Cultures shaped by specific racial and ethnic histories become part of a marketplace of cultural identities, where one can consume freely:

Free choice, on the neoliberal account, is best informed and exercised through interactive engagements with others … Commerce thrives when people can interact and mix … Mixture [is here] subject … to well-established controls long set in place, bounded by racial presumptions now more or less implicit—sublimated, rendered explicitly raceless—about merit, excellence, and beauty taken as unquestioned givens. [Racial mixing] is exhorted ultimately to mimic the cultural and performative standards of those embodying historical power. In short, to mimic or emulate the standards and habits of whiteness, of Euro- or Anglo-mimesis racially preconceived.78

As with post-feminism with its ideal subject of the sexually and economically liberated (white) woman—someone who we might understand as “mimicking” long-standing characteristics of white men, though with appropriately “feminine” trappings—a similar impulse is at work here: ethno-racial diversity is there only to supplement a mimicked whiteness. In both cases, structural misogyny and racism are disavowed while at the same time reaffirmed, through the language of success and personal choice. Indeed, central to both post-feminism and post-race discourses is the assertion that inequality is a moral and economic problem—but in this very assertion, racism and misogyny become expressions of individual opinion or moral failing rather than part of larger, systemic infrastructures. As Jodi Melamed notes, “the new flexibility in racial procedures after World War II means that racism constantly appears as disappearing according to conventional race categories, even as it takes on new forms that can signify as nonracial or even antiracist.”79

Additionally, in the aftermath of World War II, liberal states turned to forms of affirmative action in attempts to rectify long-standing socioeconomic inequalities, leading to increased representation of people of color in the middle classes, which simultaneously produced more racially diverse cities and white flight to the growing suburbs. Yet, with the rise of neoliberal policies in the 1970s and 1980s, these forms of liberal redistribution that focused on “structural and institutional factors” came into conflict with “the agentic, individuating, rights-based approaches to difference and diversity that characterise neo-liberal dogma and corporate multiculturalism alike.”80 The effect of this conflict is felt most materially in the criminalization of people of color, with illegal immigration and terrorism becoming the particular tent poles of post-9/11, transnational “racisms without racism.”81 As Lauren Berlant asks, in her reading of Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist and its interrogation of “racial uplift,” “what is the good life when the world that was to have been delivered by upward mobility and collective uplift that national/capitalism promised goes awry in front of one?”82

A similar pattern is at work around sexuality, as David Eng notes: “Shifting from a politics of protest and redistribution to one of rights and recognitions, queerness is increasingly rendered an aestheticized lifestyle predicated on choice.”83 Two discourses are particularly central to queer critiques of neoliberal life: the AIDS crisis and safe sex as responsible self-care, and same-sex marriage and the expansion of the infrastructure of heteronormativity.84 Both discourses work to emphasize, what Andrew Sullivan terms “virtually normal” queer subjects—typically those subjects who, as Michael Warner notes, were most removed from the political urgency of earlier gay rights movements. Indeed, as Warner suggests, “the rhetoric of normalization … tells us that the taken-for-granted norms of common sense are the only criteria of value [and that] the point of being normal is to blend, to have no visible difference and no conflict.”85 This is notably a goal that is more easily attainable for some bodies and not others, and one that is emphatically undesirable for other bodies, no matter how “normal” they might appear.86 This emphasis on “normalization” and standardization in terms of both health and kinship structures is termed by Lisa Duggan as “the new homonormativity,” “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them, while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption.”87 For both Warner and Duggan, this “trickle-down acceptance”88 cannot be dissociated from the larger social context of neoliberalism.

Queer-of-color critiques have also productively illustrated the way that access to new forms of “homonormativity” has been predicated on elisions of both racial histories and presents. David Eng, for instance, observes that “queer liberalism [a phrase that parallels Duggan’s “homonormativity”] extends the right of privacy to gay and lesbian U.S. citizen-subjects willing to comply with its normative dictates of bourgeois intimacy, and able to afford the comforts of bourgeois domesticity in their reconfigured globalized incarnations.”89 But as Eng and others in the context of queer lives and critical race scholars remind readers, privacy operates in specifically racialized ways: “Whiteness and property, liberty and freedom, are and continue to be inextricably intertwined.”90 Gayatri Gopinath demonstrates another way queerness interrogates capital formations by noting that “the cartography of a queer diaspora tells a different story of how global capitalism impacts local sites by articulating other forms of subjectivity, culture, affect, kinship, and community that may not be visible or audible within standard mappings of nation, diaspora, or globalization.”91 Gopinath’s archive of texts illustrates forms of community and identification that disrupt normative Euro-American depictions of queer lives that place white, cis-gendered gay men at the commodified center of available narratives. Her readings of Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night and Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy, for instance, highlight the way queer desire reworks notions of home, nation, and global mobility.

Neoliberal Genre

The preponderance of scholarly and creative work on neoliberalism has focused on representations of the variety of ways identity has been shaped by contemporary economic rationalities, both in terms of the norms of behavior and identification, and how structural impediments and infrastructures delimit these norms. However, there is also growing attention to the formal impact of neoliberalism on contemporary fiction that considers the way formalistic elements, particularly tied to genre, have been shaped by these same rationalities. This is work all shaped implicitly and otherwise by important scholarship done on the emergence of the novel and its imbrication with the rise of classically liberal capitalism in the 18th century. Scholars as varied as Benedict Anderson, Nancy Armstrong, Georg Lukács, Deirdre Lynch, Mary Poovey, and Ian Watt have all usefully illustrated the ways the novel as a genre, and its various sub-genres, developed alongside and in mutually reinforcing ways with the rise of capitalism. This connection between the novel, in particular, and capitalism has increasingly led scholars to consider how genre might be used as a way of considering the changes wrought to capital in the last fifty years. How, in other words, has the novel form changed to reflect a changing experience of capital? This generic approach takes a variety of forms: a focus on specific genres, a more meta-textual approach to genre, and a consideration of genre in more loosely defined terms. These various approaches, moreover, suggest the complicated ways contemporary authors and scholars engage with the cultural forms that structure everyday engagement with the economic.

Specific Genres

The disruptive potential of genre is typically the focus in the interrogation of specific genre forms. The use of genre conventions by contemporary writers and cultural producers is shown by these critics to work within the limits of contemporary socioeconomic rationalities but also to often work either at the extremes of these limits or against them entirely, demonstrating their insufficiencies and violences. Paul Crosthwaite, for instance, argues that the financial thrillers that emerged in the 1990s, often authored by those formerly employed by the financial sector, are “artefacts that emanate from and circulate within the life-world of financial markets themselves, and in which the multivalent and ephemeral flows of affect and desire that animate these markets are indelibly inscribed.”92 Yet, as he suggests, the endings of these novels often seem unsatisfactory, as they must “answer to an ideological obligation to curb and domesticate the very transgressive desires they so powerfully mobilize.”93 Emily Johansen has also illustrated how contemporary gothic novels use traditional conventions to disrupt the genre’s attempt to consolidate and mediate between the social and the individual.94 If the gothic has historically been used to validate and exorcise social anxieties, ultimately reasserting the status quo, neoliberal gothic novels point to the impossibility of such a reassertion; like the traditional gothic, they give voice to affective responses to contemporary life that have been invalidated or marginalized, but instead of recuperation, the neoliberal gothic suggests that social life can only allow for entropic decline. This critical attention to imaginative use of long-standing and specific generic traditions highlights the way contemporary authors and cultural producers work to undercut the assumptions of neoliberalism structural imperatives.95

Meta-Generic Work

One element of this meta-generic work on the effects of neoliberalism has focused on the way that the novel itself, a genre long connected with the rise of liberal capitalism, has altered with changing forms of economic arrangements. If the work done on specific genres attends to the shifts that occur to specific generic forms, their tropes, and conventions, this scholarship asks broader questions about the novel as a whole. As Emily Johansen and Alissa G. Karl argue in the introduction to a special issue of Textual Practice on “The Novel and Neoliberalism,”96 “it is [the] very sociability [of the novel form], and specifically sociability under capital, that renders the novel such an appropriate venue for the interrogation of [the conditions of everyday life] under neoliberal orthodoxy [which] are not the same as those of the liberal, classical capitalism that Watt, Lukács and others connect to the novel’s historical rise.”97 The more general focus on the novel in this body of criticism explores how cultural forms have worked to both obscure and disrupt socioeconomic common sense: “The very concept of genre promises to transform historical specificity into formal universality, enable rules of discourse to potentially transcend, transfigure, or even transvalue changing modes of (re)production.”98 This work takes part in the critical genealogy typified by Georg Lukàcs’s dissection of the historical novel and Fredric Jameson’s articulation of the “political unconscious,” attending to the ways genre helps illuminate the operation of economic (and other) ideology.

Another element of this meta-generic work has been to interrogate new generic arrangements; what, in other words, are the tropes and conventions that emerge from neoliberal rationalities and how do they offer new ways of bringing texts together? Christian Marazzi notes the New Economy marks a crisis point in the conventions governing socioeconomic life (his rhetoric paralleling here that which surrounds genre)99 and, thus, that a new convention is in the process of being established, a process which is necessarily linguistic and cultural.100 This attempt to forge new conventions or to elucidate emerging conventions points to one potential way for understanding the engine of new generic constellations.101 Lauren Berlant’s focus on “cruel optimism” and the genres it produces or reorients, for instance, is one instance of what might be termed a counter-convention. Berlant explicitly ties these generic changes to “a shift in how the older state-liberal-capitalist fantasies shape adjustments to the structural pressures of crisis and loss that are wearing out the power of the good life’s traditional fantasy bribe without wearing the need for a good life.”102 Rachel Greenwald Smith similarly notes “the coexistence of two major strands in works of contemporary literary fiction” that “productively call into question the assumption that emotion is an owned resource that circulates from individual to individual.”103 Nonetheless, the neoliberal novel “is envisioned as having value for its capacity to provide a feeling of emotional connection rather than merely for its focus on the interior life of a discrete individual”104 as “neoliberal individualism is … expansive enough to include relationships—as long as those relationships do not violate the aims of entrepreneurialism in general.”105 Work such as Berlant’s and Greenwald Smith’s demonstrate the imaginative work done by cultural producers to both reinforce and respond to changing economic realities.

Neoliberal Cultural Production

If the bulk of attention given to neoliberalism by cultural producers has surrounded its impact on subject positions and formalist concerns about genre, there are also a variety of scholars focused on the larger context of publishing and the role of the artist, more generally, under current rationalities. This work falls under a variety of disciplinary categories, but running throughout is an attentiveness (from often opposing political viewpoints and ends) to the changing role played by cultural producers in both shaping everyday, particularly metropolitan, life, and the way art itself is shaped by changing economic rationalities.

One of the major tropes since the 1980s is “the rise of the creative class,” to quote Richard Florida’s influential and popular theory on the economic significance of knowledge workers. As he notes in the introduction to a revised edition of The Rise of the Creative Class, “perhaps for the first time in human history, economic logic is on our side. Prosperity in the Creative Age turns on human potential. It can only be realized when each and every worker is recognized and empowered as a source of creativity—when their talents are nurtured, their passions harnessed, and they are appropriately rewarded for their contributions.”106 Neoliberalism, and its quest for individual autonomy and enterprise, overlaps here with “a romanticized image of the artist’s oppositional work [as] an attractive model for general self-fashioning.”107 And, significantly, as Arlene Davíla notes, the model of cultural work at the center of notions of “the Creative Age” are “skewed to middle-class and upwardly mobile sectors [excluding] many cultural workers from access to economic investment while altogether bypassing many urban residents as consumers and beneficiaries of these initiatives.”108 As Sarah Brouillette, Davíla, and others point out, culture and its evaluation have never been separate from its context, but “what is novel is the cheerful and widespread adoption of culture as an economic strategy freed from any critical caveat and its use as an anchor across a variety of culture industries.”109 Art is no longer tied to forms that have historically been considered aesthetic (literature, music, the visual arts, etc.) but a business practice; indeed, Donald Trump’s 1987 book is entitled The Art of the Deal.110 George Yúdice observes that, under neoliberalism, “the role of culture has expanded in an unprecedented way into the political and economic at the same time that conventional notions of culture largely have been emptied out… culture is increasingly wielded as a resource for both socio-political and economic amelioration.”111

The resulting transformation of artists into models of ideal neoliberal laborers not only has wide-reaching implications for understandings of contemporary labor—both in what it includes and the significant portion that it excludes—but for how we understand art and culture under neoliberalism. If subjects are invited to understand themselves as entrepreneurs—both in terms of their labor and their subject formation—this model of the creative class highlights the way this rhetoric is shaped by art as process of self-discovery (again, not a particularly new development, but one that is now imbricated in most, if not all, facets of everyday life).112 Yet, at the same time, the particular compromises required of most cultural producers as part of the cultural marketplace highlight the ways that what “counts” (in this instance, is published/produced in a large scale way) is shaped by specific market concerns, which are, unsurprisingly, weighted against authors of color, particularly those who write from and about non-Euro-North American locations or languages.

Critical attention to the specific logistics of the neoliberal publishing industry have been especially connected to postcolonial authors and the market that emerged around the particular rise of “multicultural” fiction in the 1980s and 1990s. Brouillette notes, for instance, that “the postcolonial author has emerged as a profoundly complicit and compromised figure whose authority rests, however uncomfortably, in the nature of his connection to the specificity of a given political location.”113 Graham Huggan similarly asks, “What is this postcolonial industry that turns out translated products for metropolitan consumers in places like London and New York? And why does this industry seem to privilege a handful of famous writers ([Chinua] Achebe, [V.S.] Naipaul, [Salman] Rushdie); why does it devote so much time and attention to its three celebrity critics ([Homi] Bhabha, [Edward] Said, [Gayatri] Spivak)?”114 Echoing some of the language surrounding critiques of the creative class, Huggan argues “that in the overwhelmingly commercial context of late twentieth-century commodity culture, postcolonialism and its rhetoric of resistance have themselves become consumer products.”115 He goes on to observe that “as the process of commodification clearly illustrates, cultural difference [embodied in postcolonial literature] also has an aesthetic value, a value often measured explicitly or implicitly in terms of the exotic … Late twentieth-century exoticisms are the products less of the expansion of the nation than of a worldwide market.”116

This attention to the parameters imposed on literature by the mechanics of publication parallel Nicholas Brown’s suggestion that we have reached the moment of “the real subsumption of art under capital”:

If a work of art is only a commodity, interpretive tools suddenly make no sense at all, since the form the object takes is determined elsewhere than where it is made, namely on the market. So it is not really that interpretation as such no longer makes any sense, so much as that interpreting the artwork no longer makes any sense. It is rather the desires represented by the market that are subject to analysis and elucidation.117

While Brown’s notion of critique is tied to something akin to ferreting out authorial intention, his suggestion that market desires are now “subject to analysis and elucidation” (something which is, again, not particularly new; art has always been shaped by these factors in some fashion) offers a framework for understanding, in part, what literary critics—and cultural producers themselves—might do both in criticism and creation/production. Both the critiques of the creative class whereby neoliberal subjects are enjoined to see themselves as artists and of the publishing marketplace which examine the structural demands placed on texts before they get produced in the first place provide ways for literary critics to interrupt “view[s] of creativity as an individual matter.”118

The End of Neoliberalism?

The global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recession appeared to some critics a moment from which it became possible to imagine the end of neoliberalism. The rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 and its global spread seemed another such moment. Yet, post-Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, this does not seem to have been what happened—or, at least, it has been neither straightforwardly nor consistently the case. As Colin Crouch notes, “although it was the behavior of the banks that caused the 2008–9 crisis, they emerged from it more powerful than before.”119 Similarly, Jeffrey Nealon comments that “the nation-state, which had looked like it was becoming an anachronism in the world of triumphant global corporatization, is back—and in a big way, though none of the things that progressives might like about the nation-state, such as widespread entitlement programs, seem to have much of a chance of returning with it.”120 Even Friedmanites such as Richard Posner might exhibit worry about the 2008 crisis, but still claim, ultimately, that capitalism “will survive because there is no alternative that hasn’t been thoroughly discredited.”121 Neoliberal capital’s inevitability and inescapability permeates these responses to the 2008 crisis. Nonetheless, these very articulations point to an instability at the heart of neoliberalism. In other words, while on one hand neoliberalism seems all-encompassing, it is, on the other hand, visibly insufficient, both philosophically and materially, for explaining the world.

Indeed, even the neoliberal institution par excellence, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is beginning to suggest the insufficiencies of neoliberalism. In a June 2016 report, titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?,” the authors observe that “instead of delivering growth, some neoliberal policies have increased inequality, in turn jeopardizing durable expansion.”122 They conclude the report noting that “policymakers, and institutions like the IMF that advise them, must be guided not by faith, but by evidence of what worked.”123 As Giovanni Arrighi notes of the mid-1990s, “there are indeed signs that we may have entered”124 a crisis of overaccumulation, which may point to a regime change in the current system of accumulation.

This uncertainty about the current and future status of neoliberal rationalities provides fodder for cultural producers and literary critics alike for imagining the world otherwise. Aditya Chakrabortty observed in The Guardian in response to the IMF report that “fiction can be the best guide” for imagining “what … it look[s] like when an ideology dies.”125 While it is probably premature to claim the death of neoliberalism, fiction, and culture more broadly, still offers one potential site for thinking through what “after” neoliberalism might look like; the rise and incredible recent popularity of dystopian fiction are but one place to look for examples of this work.126 Careful attention to the relationship between neoliberalism and contemporary literature offers a way of reflecting both on everyday life and the formation of identity under neoliberalism but also, potentially, forms of life that resist the imposition of neoliberal inevitability.

Further Reading

These books all offer useful introductions to neoliberalism (its doctrines and histories) for readers unfamiliar with the concept: Harvey’s book is the most typically academic, while Klein’s is written for a broader audience, and Steger and Roy fall somewhere in the middle.

Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Klein, Naomi. Shock Doctrine. New York: Picador, 2007.Find this resource:

Steger, Manfred B., and Ravi K. Roy. Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

These are key texts for readers who want to both read work by neoliberal economists directly and understand the operation of neoliberal economics and theories of the self in greater depth.

Becker, Gary S. “Prize Lecture: The Economic Way Of Looking At Life.” this resource:

Foucault, Michel. Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. Trans. Graham Burchell. London: Picador, 2010.Find this resource:

Friedman, Milton. Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.Find this resource:

Posner, Richard. The Economics of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.Find this resource:

Rose, Nikolas. “Governing ‘Advanced’ Liberal Democracies.” Foucault and Political Reason. Edited by Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne, and Nikolas Rose. London: Routledge, 1996.Find this resource:

These texts offer critiques of neoliberalism from the perspective of economic history (Arrighi and Polanyi) and postcolonialism (Amin, Ferguson, Ong, and Roy). Ferguson and Ong, however, present more ambivalent responses to neoliberal practices, suggesting the multiple different neoliberal technologies of power in operation in the Global South.

Amin, Samir. Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World. Translated by Michael Wolfers. London: Zed Books, 1990.Find this resource:

Arrighi, Giovanni. The Long Twentieth Century. London: Verso, 1994.Find this resource:

Ferguson, James. Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Ong, Aihwa. Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Polanyi, Karl. The Great Transformation. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1944.Find this resource:

Roy, Arundhati. Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014.Find this resource:

These texts offer an overview of the operation of neoliberal identity politics, and offer useful critiques of the same.

Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Eng, David. The Feeling of Kinship. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Goldberg, David Theo. The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.Find this resource:

Gopinath, Gayatri. Impossible Desires. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Grewal, Inderpal. Transnational America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

McRobbie, Angela. “Post-Feminism and Popular Culture.” Feminist Media Studies 4.3 (2004): 255–264.Find this resource:

Melamed, Jodi. “The Spirit of Neoliberalism: From Racial Liberalism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism.” Social Text 24.4 (2006): 1–24.Find this resource:

These texts address the particular impact of neoliberalism on the forms of the novel, whether identifying new genres or reworking traditional genres.

Benn Michaels, Walter. “Model Minorities and the Minority Model—the Neoliberal Novel.” The Cambridge History of the American Novel. Edited by Leonard Cassuto, Clare Virginia Eby, and Benjamin Reiss, 1016–1030. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Crosthwaite, Paul. “Blood on the Trading Floor: Waste, Sacrifice, and Death in Financial Crises.” Angelaki 15.2 (2010): 3–18.Find this resource:

Elliott, Jane, and Gillian Harkins. “Introduction: Genres of Neoliberalism.” Social Text 31.2 (2013): 1–17.Find this resource:

Greenwald Smith, Rachel. Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Irr, Caren. Toward the Geopolitical Novel. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Johansen, Emily, and Alissa G. Karl. “Introduction: Writing the Economic Present.” Textual Practice 29.2 (2015): 201–214.Find this resource:

These texts offer an overview of the impact of neoliberalism on publishing, the role of the artist, and the broader operation of culture as skill or tool.

Brouillette, Sarah. Literature and the Creative Economy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Brown, Nicholas. “The Work of Art in the Age of its Real Subsumption under Capital.” March 13, 2012.Find this resource:

Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class—Revisited: Revised and Expanded. New York: Basic Books, 2014.Find this resource:

Nealon, Jeffrey. Post-postmodernism, or, The Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Yùdice, George. The Expediency of Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Crouch and Brown provide analysis of neoliberalism after the 2008 Recession. Both offer a useful way of considering neoliberalism after its most visible crisis and its continued, yet changing, operation.

Brown, Wendy. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. New York: Zone Books, 2010.Find this resource:

Crouch, Colin. The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism. Cambridge, U.K.: Polity, 2011.Find this resource:


(1.) Zadie Smith, White Teeth (New York: Vintage, 2000), 221.

(2.) Smith, White Teeth, 221.

(3.) Smith, White Teeth, 228.

(4.) Smith, White Teeth, 233.

(5.) For more on this point, see Jeremy Gilbert, “What Kind of Thing Is ‘Neoliberalism’?,” New Formations 80–81 (2013): 7–22.

(6.) Manfred B. Steger and Ravi K. Roy, Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 15.

(7.) Friedrich Hayak, The Road to Serfdom (New York: Routledge, 2001), 240.

(8.) This section focuses primarily on neoliberalism through the lens of the Milton Friedman-led Chicago School, arguably the ideological strain that has proved most central and resilient to contemporary economic rationalities. For historical overviews of the Colloque Walter Lippman (the French neoliberal school that proved a precursor the Mount Pèlerin Society), see François Denord, “French Neoliberalism and its Divisions: From the Colloque Walter Lippman to the Fifth Republic,” The Road from Mont Pèlerin, eds. Philip Mirowski and Dieter Plehwe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 45–67. For the German ordo-liberals, see Foucault (Birth of Biopolitics) and Ralf Ptak, “Neoliberalism in Germany: Revisiting the Ordoliberal Foundations of the Social Market Economy,” The Road from Mont Pèlerin, eds. Philip Mirowski and Dieter Plehwe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 98–138.

(9.) Indeed, Gary Becker in The Economics of Discrimination (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971) transforms discrimination into an economic calculation and Richard Posner extends this same economist view of human action in The Economics of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981).

(10.) See, for instance in Free to Choose (New York: Mariner Books, 1980), the way Milton Friedman and Rose D. Friedman lump together of “the consumer movement, the ecology movement, the back-to-the-land movement, the hippie movement, the organic-food movement, the protect-the-wilderness movement, the zero-population-growth movement, the ‘small is beautiful’ movement, the antinuclear movement” as “antigrowth. They have been opposed to new developments, to industrial innovation, to the increased use of natural resources … they have prevented some products from being produced or sold” (p. 191).

(11.) Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 31.

(12.) This point is particularly expanded upon in Gary Becker’s The Economic Approach to Human Behavior (1976), which argues that all actions can be understood through the paradigm of prices (whether literal or “shadow”), and in his 1992 Nobel lecture.

(13.) Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 21.

(14.) Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 9.

(15.) Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, 36.

(16.) Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 15.

(17.) Margaret Thatcher, “Interview for Women’s Own,” Margaret Thatcher Foundation, September 23, 1987.

(18.) Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 88.

(19.) Richard Posner offers this justification for the extension of economic principles for understanding non-market arenas: “The economist’s basic analytical tool … is the assumption that people are rational maximizers of their satisfactions … Is it plausible to suggest that people are rational only or mainly when they are transacting in markets, and not when they are engaged in other activities of life” (Economics of Justice 1). He goes on to conclude that “if rationality is not confined to explicit market transactions but is a general and dominant characteristic of social behavior, then the conceptual apparatus constructed by generations of economists to explain market behavior can be used to explain nonmarket behavior as well” (Economics of Justice 2). See also Becker’s distinction in his Nobel lecture between Marxist thought which, he claims, is predicated on humanity as selfish in contrast to the economic approach which presumes rationality.

(20.) Michel Foucault, Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979, trans. Graham Burchell (London: Picador, 2010), 230.

(21.) Wendy Brown has argued in Undoing the Demos (New York: Zone Books, 2015), however, that under current socioeconomic arrangements that there has been the further effacement of all other forms of subject formation in service of the growth of homo economicus. Homo economicus and homo politicus still exist simultaneously for Foucault and others, in varying and complicated ways; for Brown, this is increasingly not the case. Brown posits that neoliberalism is not just “a set of economic policies, an ideology, or a resetting of the relation between state and economy” but should be understood as “a widely and deeply disseminated governing rationality [that] transmogrifies every human domain and endeavor … according to a specific image of the economic” (9,10). This, she argues, has meant “extinguishing the agent, the idiom, and the domains through which democracy—any variety of democracy—materializes” (79). Homo economicus (a gendering which, for Brown, is central to its particular forms of operation) has increasingly eliminated all other ways of imagining the subject’s interaction with a larger social body. While not necessarily using the explicit language of homo economicus, it is this aspect of neoliberalism that is perhaps most often the focus of both contemporary fiction and literary criticism.

(22.) Foucault, Birth of Biopolitcs, 62.

(23.) Jeffrey Nealon, Foucault Beyond Foucault (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008), 45.

(24.) Foucault, Birth of Biopolitics, 241.

(25.) Nikolas Rose, “Governing ‘Advanced’ Liberal Democracies,” in Foucault and Political Reason, ed. Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne, and Nikolas Rose (London: Routledge, 1996), 41.

(26.) Nealon, Foucault Beyond Foucault, 73.

(27.) Central to Friedman’s Chicago School was an understanding that “economic forces of supply, demand, inflation and unemployment were like the forces of nature, fixed and unchanging” (Klein, Shock Doctrine, 61). Like many academic disciplines in the mid-century, the Chicago School’s approach tries to transform a social science into something akin to a natural science. As a result, their model of economic forces often does not account for the subject, except as “economic man” and larger scale human intervention, except to reject it as disruptive of economic systemic health.

(28.) Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1944), 3–4.

(29.) Polanyi, The Great Transformation, 196.

(30.) Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century (London: Verso, 1994), 1.

(31.) Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 4–6.

(32.) Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 9.

33 Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 220 (see fig. 3.4).

(34.) Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 220.

(35.) Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 221 (emphasis in original).

(36.) Arrighi posits that the American cycle of accumulation has already passed its signal crisis and moved into the financial expansion phase, perhaps approaching its terminal crisis.

(37.) See, for instance, the work of Andre Gunder Frank and World Systems Theory more generally.

(38.) See, for instance, early 20th-century criticism of the imperialist tendencies of capital in work by Frantz Fanon, V. I. Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg.

(39.) David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 141.

(40.) Primitive accumulation is the process, preceding capitalism, whereby distinctions between capitalists and laborers emerge. See Karl Marx, Capital Volume I, trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling (New York: Dover Books, 2011), 784–787.

(41.) Harvey, The New Imperialism, 156.

(42.) He notes that “the primary vehicle for accumulation by dispossession, therefore, has been the forcing open of markets throughout the world by institutional pressures exercised through the IMF and WTO, backed by the power of the United States (and to a lesser extent Europe) to deny access to their own vast markets to those countries that refuse to dismantle their protections.” Harvey, New Imperialism, 181.

(43.) Harvey, New Imperialism, 173.

(44.) Samir Amin, Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World, trans. Michael Wolfers (London: Zed Books, 1990), 48.

(45.) Amin, Delinking, 27.

(46.) Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014), 21.

(47.) Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story, 29–30.

(48.) Ananya Roy, Poverty Capital (London: Routledge, 2010), 48.

(49.) Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 12.

(50.) Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception, 27.

(51.) James Ferguson, Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 3.

(52.) Ferguson, Give a Man a Fish, 12.

(53.) Ferguson, Give a Man a Fish, 31.

(54.) Jeffrey Nealon, Post-postmodernism, or, The Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), 20–21, emphasis in original. See also Catherine Liu, American Idyll: American Antielitism as Cultural Critique (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2011), 169–208.

(55.) Walter Benn Michaels, “Model Minorities and the Minority Model—the Neoliberal Novel,” in eds. Leonard Cassuto, Clare Virginia Eby, and Benjamin Reiss (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 1029.

(56.) Angela McRobbie, “Post-Feminism and Popular Culture,” Feminist Media Studies 4.3 (2004): 255.

(57.) Jess Butler, “For White Girls Only? Postfeminism and the Politics of Inclusion,” Feminist Formations 25.1 (2013): 42.

(58.) Angela McRobbie, “Notes on Postfeminism and Popular Culture: Bridget Jones and the New Gender Regime” in All About the Girl: Culture, Power, and Identity, ed. Anita Harris (New York: Routledge, 2004), 12. See also Diane Negra, What A Girl Wants?: Fantasizing the Reclamation of the Self in Postfeminism (New York: Routledge, 2009).

(59.) Anne Helen Petersen, “Sex and the Dystopia,” The Hairpin, July 23, 2013.

(60.) Michelle Elam, “Passing in the Post-Race Era: Danzy Senna, Philip Roth, and Colson Whitehead,” African American Review 41.4 (2007): 749.

(61.) Elam, “Passing in the Post-Race Era,” 750.

(62.) Ramón Saldívar, “The Second Elevation of the Novel: Race, Form, and the Postrace Aesthetic in Contemporary Narrative,” Narrative 21.1 (2013): 2.

(63.) Saldívar, “The Second Elevation of the Novel,” 2.

(64.) Saldívar, “The Second Elevation of the Novel,” 5.

(65.) Gillian Harkins, “Aye, and Neoliberalism,” Journal of Homosexuality 59.7 (2012): 1073.

(66.) Harkins, “Aye, and Neoliberalism,” 1076.

(67.) Simon During, “Queering Thatcher: Whatever Happened to Politics and Culture in the 1980s?” Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (2013): 9.

(68.) Dion Kagan, “Possessions and Dispossession: Homo Economicus and Neoliberal Society in The Line of Beauty,” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 28.6 (2014): 805.

(69.) During, “Queering Thatcher,” 10.

(70.) Gillian Harkins, Everybody’s Family Romance: Reading Incest in Neoliberal America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 7–8.

(71.) Kathy Knapp, “Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe Trilogy and the Post 9/11 Suburban Novel,” American Literary History 23.3 (2011): 502.

(72.) Andrew Hoberek, The Twilight of the Middle Class (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 6.

(73.) David Theo Goldberg, The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 330.

(74.) Goldberg, The Threat of Race, 356.

(75.) Christine Lavrence and Kristin Lozanski, for example, note how the athletic apparel company, lululemon, deploys Orientalist aesthetics in the service of neoliberal practices of self-care. Jess Butler makes similar observations about the way post-feminism circulates in particularly raced ways in the discussions that surround Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. See Christine Lavrence and Kristin Lozanski, “‘This is Not Your Practice Life’: lululemon and the Neoliberal Governance of Self,” Canadian Review of Sociology 51.1 (2014): 76–94; and Butler, “For White Girls Only?”

(76.) Jodi Melamed, “The Spirit of Neoliberalism: From Racial Liberalism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism,” Social Text 24.4 (2006): 1.

(77.) Melamed, “The Spirit of Neoliberalism,” 1.

(78.) Goldberg, The Threat of Race, 342.

(79.) Melamed, “The Spirit of Neoliberalism,” 3.

(80.) Paul Gilroy, “‘My Britain Is Fuck All’ Zombie Multiculturalism and the Race Politics of Citizenship,” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 19.4 (2012): 381.

(81.) Goldberg, The Threat of Race, 360.

(82.) Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 69.

(83.) David Eng, The Feeling of Kinship (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 29.

(84.) Yet simultaneous to this notion of neoliberal choice around, particularly, safe sex and marriage is the rise of a rhetoric emphasizing that LGBTQ subjects are “born this way.” Identities are returned here to an essentialist frame, while at the same time suggesting that acting on these identities is a matter of choice and responsibility.

(85.) Michael Warner, The Trouble with Normal (New York: Free Press, 1999), 60.

(86.) For more on the normative demand for safe sex and an attendant sense of responsibilization, see Tim Dean’s Unlimited Intimacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). As he notes, in his discussion of barebacking subcultures, “to live riskily [under biopolitical imperatives about health and safety] is to be diseased, even in the absence of pathological symptoms” (p. 67; emphasis in original).

(87.) Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality? (Boston: Beacon Press, 2003), 50.

(88.) Warner, The Trouble with Normal, 66.

(89.) Eng, The Feeling of Kinship, 45.

(90.) Eng, The Feeling of Kinship, 46.

(91.) Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 12.

(92.) Paul Crosthwaite, “Blood on the Trading Floor: Waste, Sacrifice, and Death in Financial Crises,” Angelaki 15.2 (2010): 6.

(93.) Crosthwaite, “Blood on the Trading Floor,” 7.

(94.) Emily Johansen, “The Neoliberal Gothic: Gone Girl, Broken Harbor, and the Terror of Everyday Life,” Contemporary Literature 57.1 (2016): 30–55.

(95.) A good deal of critical work has also focused on neoliberalism and cinematic genre. See, for two examples, Joseph Jeon’s “Neoliberal Forms: CGI, Algorithm, and Hegemony in Korea’s IMF Cinema” (Representations 126 (2014): 85–111); and Annie McClanahan’s “Dead Pledges: Debt, Horror, and the Credit Crisis,” Post45, May 7, 2012.

(96.) For similar discussions of the novel under neoliberalism, see Jane Elliott and Gillian Harkins, eds., “The Genres of Neoliberalism,” special issue, Social Text 31.2 (2013); and Matthew Hart and Jim Hansen, eds., “Literature and the State," special issue, Contemporary Literature 49.4 (2008).

(97.) Emily Johansen and Alissa G. Karl, “Introduction: Writing the Economic Present,” Textual Practice 29.2 (2015): 202.

(98.) Jane Elliott and Gillian Harkins, “Introduction: Genres of Neoliberalism,” Social Text 31.2 (2013): 1, emphasis in original.

(99.) Christian Marazzi, Capital and Language, trans. Gregory Conti (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2008).

(100.) As Annie McClanahan notes, Marazzi is part of a strain of Marxist critics who, she asserts, over-emphasizes the role of immaterial labor, and “ultimately discard the notion of class contradiction and indeed any form of revolutionary politics organized around exploitation and the regime of the value form” (85). Marazzi’s focus on the “immateriality” of contemporary life might provide, then, compelling ways of thinking about cultural forms but should not distract us from the very real materialities of neoliberal life. Annie McClanahan, “Investing in the Future,” Journal of Cultural Economy 6.1 (2013): 78–93.

(101.) For other examples, see Caren Irr’sToward the Geopolitical Novel (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014); Leigh Claire La Berge’s and Alison Shonkwiler’s Reading Capitalist Realism (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014); and John Marx’sGeopolitics and the Anglophone Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

(102.) Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 7.

(103.) Rachel Greenwald Smith, Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 33.

(104.) Greenwald Smith, Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism, 38.

(105.) Greenwald Smith, Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism, 40.

(106.) Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class—Revisited: Revised and Expanded (New York: Basic Books, 2014), xiv. Florida posits that this rise is something new, though there is a long history connecting artists and working class neighbourhood. What perhaps is new, then, is that Florida offers a way for cities to engineer and profit from this connection.

(107.) Sarah Brouillette, Literature and the Creative Economy (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), 53.

(108.) Arlene Davíla, Culture Works (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 1.

(109.) Davíla, Culture Works, 3.

(110.) For more on the use of aesthetic rhetoric in discussions of finance, see Leigh Claire La Berge’s “How to Make Money with Words: Finance, Performativity, Language,” Journal of Cultural Economy, 9.1 (2016): 43–62.

(111.) George Yúdice, The Expediency of Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 9.

(112.) Greenwald Smith, Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism, 38.

(113.) Sarah Brouillette, Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 3–4.

(114.) Graham Huggan, The Postcolonial Exotic (New York: Routledge, 2001), 4.

(115.) Huggan, The Postcolonial Exotic, 6.

(116.) Huggan, The Postcolonial Exotic, 13, 15 (emphasis in original).

(117.) Nicholas Brown, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Real Subsumption under Capital,”, March 13, 2012.

(118.) Davíla, Culture Works, 14.

(119.) Colin Crouch, The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism (London: Polity, 2013), 1.

(120.) Nealon, Post-Post Modernism, 11.

(121.) Richard Posner, A Failure of Capitalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 234.

(122.) Jonathan D. Ostry, Prakash Loungani, and Davide Furceri. “Neoliberalism: Oversold?,” Finance and Development 53.2 (2016): 38.

(123.) Ostry, Loungani, and Furceri, “Neoliberalism,” 41.

(124.) Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 341.

(125.) Aditya Chakrabortty, “You’re Witnessing the Death of Neoliberalism—From Within,” The Guardian, May 31, 2016.

(126.) Benjamin Kunkel, “Dystopia and the End of Politics,” Dissent 55.4 (2008): 89–98.