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Feminist Economics

For a Special Issue on

Gendering the Debt Crisis: Feminist Political Economy Perspectives

Abstract deadline
30 August 2023

Manuscript deadline
31 January 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, Professor of Development Geography, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
[email protected]

Smriti Rao, Professor of Economics, Assumption University, USA
[email protected]

Lyn Ossome, Associate Professor, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Uganda
[email protected]

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Gendering the Debt Crisis: Feminist Political Economy Perspectives

In October 2022, the United Nations (UN) announced that 54 countries that are home to more than 50% of the world’s poorest people need urgent debt relief. Of this group, a little over half (28 countries) are also among the world’s top 50 most climate-vulnerable nations. According to the IMF, in 2023 key debt-burden indicators are back at, or approaching, levels last seen during the start of the last major program for international debt relief, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPEC) initiative. However, UN/World Bank/G20 discourses around this emerging debt crisis still do not sufficiently incorporate the critical linkages among macro-level debt, meso-level household debt, and the more micro dynamics of household survival and social reproduction in the unfolding of these crises. In particular, the ways in which country-level debt crises shape, and are shaped by, the burdens borne by women in multiple spheres – from indebted households to families going through catastrophic contractions of family income – need more attention in this post-pandemic context.
Across the Global South, the pressures of survival work – or the work of social reproduction – have intensified in the aftermath of the pandemic and significantly dried up sources of livelihood. This trajectory is compounded by subsequent waves of global inflation, intensifying care burdens that have tended to fall upon women. There is also a troubling familiarity to the policy proposals currently emerging in response to developing country debt distress. In contrast to ‘post-austerity’ politics in the developed world, policy prescriptions in developing countries facing balance of payments crises have involved spending cuts and privatization of state resources, threatening those whose survival depends on some access to public land, nature, and the commons. These are measures that often heighten the global climate crisis. Emergent proposals to address foreign debt also ignore cases of ‘odious’ debt, prioritizing re-entry into capital markets to effectively bail out ‘official’ and private creditors (both local and global).
For feminist economists, in contrast, debt justice is a central value and principle that stems from an understanding of these interlinkages. Just as feminist economists have expanded our understanding of work by focusing on linkages across production and reproduction, and across macro, meso, and micro levels, we need a similarly complex understanding of debt and ways that it is constituted across the spheres of production and reproduction. Solutions to debt crises that fail to incorporate this understanding are likely to fail the core feminist principle of debt justice: that working class women and people of color cannot be made to pay for the recklessness of finance capitalists.
This special issue is motivated by the need to articulate feminist analyses and visions of debt justice in this moment of incipient crises. Against this backdrop, there are calls for a renewal of the New International Economic Order (NIEO), as social and economic justice issues take on renewed immediacy. Feminist economics must be part of the process of shaping this agenda with urgency, creativity, and solidarity.
The purpose of this special issue is to place feminist economics critiques, theorizations, and methodologies at the forefront of a progressive response to this new debt crisis in the Global South. We hope to facilitate feminist economists’ abilities to shape policy initiatives and critical engagement with multilateral organizations. We aim to bring together papers that embody the spirit of pluralistic perspectives and methods promoted in Feminist Economics, including the work of scholar activists who regularly monitor, dialogue, and analyze the work of multilateral institutions, creditor nations, and private lenders. A special issue of this caliber may offer the opportunity to dialogue and build synergies across multiple spheres on the unfolding debt and climate crises. Critiques and reflections from a Global South vantage point are particularly welcome.
Given the urgency and scope of this project, we seek relatively short original research articles and commentaries (more below) that address the following themes:
• Feminist perspectives on debt justice that include the household as a site of debt crisis and debt justice.
• Intersectional feminist perspectives that help us understand debt in the context of social reproduction and ecological crisis.
• Feminist analyses of current/emergent debt crises in particular developing country or regional contexts, tracing how gender/race/caste/ethnicity/place constitute the particularities of these crises.
• Feminist theorizations of how the international financial landscape for developing countries has been reconstituted in the aftermath of the pandemic, including the role of private bond holders, bilateral lenders, and the role of multilaterals.
• Proposals for solutions to this current wave of debt crises that center debt justice as a feminist value.

Submission Instructions

Original research articles between 5,000 to 8,000 words in length. This word limit includes all text in the article (abstract, title page, keywords, acknowledgements, references, and any appendices; abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words) as well as visual aids such as maps, images, or figures. Visual aids are calculated based on their size relative to a journal page, which is 500 words (e.g., a half-page figure would count as 250 words).
Commentaries of no more than 3,000 words, including references, tables, etc. These are editorial interventions around the gendered nature of the debt crisis, which can take the form of scholarly debates, theoretical/methodological interventions, or critical reviews or activist experiences.
Proposals of 750 words or fewer, with a list of 5–6 references, are due by 30 August 2023. The proposal should include the central question(s); and for original research articles research methods and preliminary findings, if available. Please email proposals to [email protected] with the subject line: “FE Special Issue on Gendering the Debt Crisis.”

Accepted authors will be notified by 31 September 2023. To be considered for inclusion in the special issue, final manuscripts will be due 31 January 2024. All submissions will be refereed and will meet the standards for publication in Feminist Economics.

Please send any queries to [email protected]. We look forward to receiving your proposal!

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