Date of Degree

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Anthropology

Advisor

Jeff Maskovsky

Committee Members

Leith Mullings

Don Robotham

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Keywords

Student Debt, Higher Education, Affect, Political Economy, Finance, Youth, Race

Abstract

Over the past two decades, educational debt has quickly transformed US colleges and universities into spaces of cruel optimism: the higher education that students desire is all too often an obstacle to their flourishing. This study maps the contours of the white, middle-class attachment to the college dream, paying particular attention to the moments when the optimism surrounding higher education turns cruel. As this optimism wanes in the face of mounting educational debt, students deploy a myriad of fast life strategies—a flurry of actions that include work, activism, protest, leaving school and/or satirical critique—with the hope of mitigating the impact of looming debt repayment.

Share

COinS