Tijo Salverda: Aiming to keep capitalist accumulation in check: The role of the global land rush’s fiercest critics

This post is part of a feature on “How Capitalists Think,” moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) and Tijo Salverda (University of Cologne).

Following the concurrent 2007/2008 financial crisis and the global food crisis, investors’ appetite for (agricultural) land around the world has increased considerably. As a consequence, rural residents have been pushed off their lands, or their movements have been restricted because of new forms of enclosure (White et al. 2012), leading to an outpour of concerns about the “global land rush.” Critics such as international peasant movements, NGOs, journalists, (activist) scholars, and, in a more ambiguous way, international governance institutions have campaigned against the negative consequences of investors’ appetite for land. In particular, campaigns by GRAIN, Via Campesina, Global Witness, and Oxfam have increased awareness among the public. The extensive number of academic publications also demonstrates the scholarly attention devoted to the issue (e.g., Anseeuw et al. 2012; Borras 2016; Zoomers et al. 2016).

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Hadas Weiss: Reflections on Moishe Postone’s legacy for anthropology

As anthropologists, we strive to speak up for the often marginalized and underprivileged populations we study. Aiming to do so rigorously by heeding the structures that create and reproduce the injustices we witness, many of us have found our way to the critique of capitalism by Karl Marx and his followers. Moishe Postone introduced cohorts of anthropologists and others who were drawn to his cross-disciplinary courses at the University of Chicago to Marx and critical theory. While his writings have inspired scholars and activists worldwide and across the social sciences and humanities, Postone had also paved a path from Marxian theory to empirical critique that ethnographic fieldwork is well poised to accomplish.

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Eeva Kesküla: How capitalists think about labor dynasties and corporate ethics

This post is part of a feature on “How Capitalists Think,” moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) and Tijo Salverda (University of Cologne).

This contribution looks at the implications of how capitalists think about corporate ethics and moral obligations in monoindustrial towns. I present the cases of two mining towns in Estonia and Kazakhstan that share the history of honoring labor dynasties. In both settings, during the Soviet period, labor dynasties had a special place in company histories and grandfather-father-son working together were celebrated through stories in newspapers, awards on miners’ professional holiday, and photos on the mine’s noticeboard. Ideologically, dynasties represented a “labor aristocracy” that was to replace the prerevolutionary hereditary aristocracy, and such workers were to serve as examples to others (Tkach 2003).

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