Against ‘The Poor’ as a global category

Ethics and Global Politics 16 (2):17-27 (2023)
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Abstract

Monique Deveaux’s book Poverty, Solidarity, and Poor-Led Social Movements is an important intervention in global justice dialogues. It explores with nuance the case for viewing persons facing poverty globally as potential agents of justice, and it does excellent work in offering exemplar groups where that potential is actualized. The book may put the final nail in framings of global justice as primarily transfers from ‘rich to poor.’ Yet, it also has a tendency to implicitly reinforce those same framings, in part by adopting a Global North/South dichotomy, and in particular by treating ‘the poor’ as a category of persons. Such a label may homogenize, presenting persons in ways that do not fully acknowledge their agency and multifaceted humanity. It may also undermine one of the core aims in Deveaux’s account, reinforcing forms of global social distance rather than highlighting possibilities for solidarity across borders. Alternate framings are proposed.

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Luis Cabrera
Griffith University

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