(De)mortgaging lives: Financialisation, biopolitics and political subjectivation in the Barcelona metropolitan region

  • Melissa Garcia Lamarca Williams

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis focuses on one instance of housing financialisation, mortgagedebt and political subjectivation through considering the mortgaging anddemortgaging of life in the Barcelona metropolitan region from 1997 to 2014.My original contributions to knowledge are illustrating how the financialisationof housing equates to the financialisation of life; operationalising a biopoliticalreading of mortgaged homeownership and showing how politicalsubjectivation is not an act or event but an accumulation of learned practices'from below'. A heterodox, Marxist-inspired political economic perspectiveand ethnographic engagement with (formerly) mortgaged homeowners in thehousing rights movement the Platform for Mortgage Affected People (PAH) inthe Barcelona metropolitan region are used to explore the mortgaging anddemortgaging of life. To consider the former, I connect the political economicprocesses driving the financialisation of housing during Spain's 1997-2007housing boom to the lived experience of people unable to pay theirmortgage, facing foreclosure and eviction, in the Barcelona metropolitanregion. In other words, I weave together the macro processes and microrealities underlying the mortgaging of life. To understand the demortgaging oflife, I consider the processes of political subjectivation of mortgage-affectedpeople through their collective struggles with the PAH to get their mortgagedebt forgiven, to block evictions and to occupy empty bank-owned housing,among others. The thesis sheds light onto how life becomes a keycomponent of (urban) capital accumulation strategies, and thus thedevelopment of urban futures, and how financialised and biopoliticaltechnologies of power related to (mortgage) debt can be disrupted.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorErik Swyngedouw (Supervisor) & Maria Kaika (Supervisor)


  • biopolitics
  • political subjectivation
  • housing
  • debt
  • financialisation

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