Capacity, Debility and Differential Inclusion: The Politics of Microfinance in South India

Vandana Chaudhry


This article uses a critical disability lens to map how differential inclusion shatters the promise of democratizing capital in microfinance. Based on an ethnographic study of disability microfinance projects of the World Bank in India, it traces the dynamics of inclusion through the exclusion of debilitated bodies that cannot be capacitated within the neoliberal logic of entrepreneurship. A disability perspective brings into relief the pernicious ways that microfinance operates through webs of ableism, capitalism, and other axes of power and domination. It builds upon and contributes to the ongoing debates on microfinance as a form of neoliberal populism by showing what disability has to say about political futures amidst globalizing desires for inclusion, social mobility, and democratizing access to capital. Examining disability as a culturally-specific configuration of precarity and marginalization that is deepened by microfinance programs allows us to challenge the inclusionist claims of finance capital, and re-envision ethically and socially responsible frameworks. Generating culturally grounded knowledge on disability in the global south, this article also makes an important contribution to the field of disability studies, which scholars have argued remains implicated within the hegemony of 'scholarly colonialism' (Meekosha, 2011).


Disability; India; Microfinance; Neoliberalism; Global South; Inclusion

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Copyright (c) 2018 Vandana Chaudhry

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ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)