This article is a contribution to critiques of the mainstream trends in financial literacy education and argues that they typically produce a profound financial illiteracy by obfuscating the systemic and structural dimensions of debt, financial hardship, and the patterns of financialization, thus reaffirming a neoliberal trend to privatize social problems. I explore how this financial illiteracy dovetails with the production of “white ignorance” and the erasure of the racialized injustices of contemporary global capitalism. While the case study of financial literacy educational materials targeting Indigenous people in Canada largely confirms this approach, it also gives us clues as to what another, better financial literacy might look like. The article concludes by asking what financial literacy education for the radical imagination might look like and what the further decolonization of that education might imply. It ends with a celebration of settler-colonial bankruptcy as a moral and political-economic opening for a radical way forward.
The Uses of Financial Literacy: Financialization, the Radical Imagination, and the Unpayable Debts of Settler Colonialism
Max Haiven is Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media, and Social Justice at Lakehead University in Northwest Ontario and director of the ReImagining Value Action Lab. He writes articles for both academic and general audiences and is the author of the books Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power: Capitalism, Creativity, and the Commons (2014), The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity (with , and Cultures of Financialization: Fictitious Capital in Popular Culture and Everyday Life (2014).
Max Haiven; The Uses of Financial Literacy: Financialization, the Radical Imagination, and the Unpayable Debts of Settler Colonialism. Cultural Politics 1 November 2017; 13 (3): 348–369. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-4211350
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