Despite being a decade removed from the 2008 Financial Crisis, an alarming number of Americans are turning to alternative finance service providers (AFSP) for “short term” loans. These loans typically carry triple digit interest rates and can contribute to exacerbating the financial precarity of the borrowers. This article investigates the relationship between the spatial distribution of the AFSP industry and considers the impacts of this saturated presence on the individuals who live in these neighborhoods. Using the Phoenix metropolitan area as a site of exploration, I examine where the industry has pooled and look at the descriptive characteristics of those spaces. Mapping the industry’s presence provides a rich cartography of debt that breaks upon ethnic, racial, and class lines. To link the spatial dimensions of debt practices to the body I draw upon Jacques Derrida’s (1994) conception of ontopology, an amalgam of ontology and topos, that stresses the co-constitutionality of space and corporeal subjectivity. I argue that the spatial production of debt provides a richer lens through which to view the uneven distribution of difference that reinforces historical inequalities.
"Cartographies of Debt: Auto Title Loans and Spatial Inequality."
Humboldt Journal of Social Relations