Tag Archives: Capitalism

Soe Lin Aung: Three theses on the crisis in Rakhine

By now, the main contours of the recent events in Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, are well-known. On August 25, an insurgent group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) (previously Harakah al-Yaqin) attacked police posts in northern Rakhine, eliciting a broad counterinsurgency response from the Myanmar military that has displaced over 400,000 Rohingya people into Bangladesh. As in previous cycles of violence, the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, has reportedly targeted civilians in its “clearance operations,” leading to allegations of killings, rape, and the burning of villages. The UN’s human rights body has referred to this latest outbreak of violence as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

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Patrick Neveling: “Vote like humans”: Elections in a posthuman political economy

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

As I left Bournemouth train station this afternoon, a homeless man approached me and asked for some change. Shelters in Bournemouth and elsewhere in the United Kingdom charge money to rough sleepers on a per night basis. The going rate is currently four British pounds in Bournemouth, and it is certainly a common experience for commuters returning from Southampton and London to this southwestern English seaside town to be asked to for a contribution to those fees at the train station. In fact, the local council adds further pressure to an anyhow pressurized population of homeless in Bournemouth. As the current Tory government has cut several welfare packages, the number of homeless has risen dramatically across the United Kingdom in recent years.

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Alan Bradshaw: On the prospect of a Tory majority!

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

As an Irishman living in England, I am struck by the total difference between how Brexit is discussed in both countries. In Ireland, it is clear that Brexit will bring economic disaster, but this can be mitigated against by significant planning and coordinated response by government and business. That even at this late stage, the form of Brexit is unknown is a source of great anxiety in Ireland. By contrast, in Britain to have any discourse of Brexit as impending economic ruination is simply unacceptable. Those who dare to utter prophecies of economic trouble are bullied into silence by a raging right-wing media. Brexit can only be allowed to be framed in the positive.

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Leo Grob: Ruptures, Consolidations, Continuities: Reconsidering Global Economic Processes since 1945

This conference report was first published in H-Soz-Kult; the full conference program can be found here.

The 1970s increasingly move into the spotlight of contemporary history research. The decade is often portrayed as one of profound change, a radical rupture driven by watershed moments such as the oil crisis or the end of the Bretton Woods system of fixed currency exchange rates. This is not only the major take on the decade in recent publications by historians such as “Nach dem Boom” (Doering-Manteuffel and Raphael 2010) or “Age of Fraction” (Rodgers 2011), but also a well-established analytical approach across the social sciences and humanities (some of the most widely cited works in this regard are Harvey 1990, 2005). The international conference “Ruptures, Consolidations, Continuities: Reconsidering Global Economic Processes since 1945,” held at the Centre of Global Studies at the University of Bern, thus was a timely project to engage this paradigm. Over two-and-a-half days, researchers from the social sciences and the humanities came together to question the big “-isms” of 20th century-periodizations, such as Fordism, Post-Fordism, Keynesianism, and Neoliberalism.
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Lesley Gill and Norbert Ross: What’s class got to do with it?

trump

Unsettled by Donald Trump’s bigotry and xenophobia, liberal pundits have struggled to understand his improbable anointment as the nominee of the Republican party. Many have sought answers in the experience and behavior of the white-working class, the bedrock of Trump support. Why, asks the New Yorker’s James Surolecki, would any working class person support Trump. Surolecki believes that part of the answer lies in the appeal of Trump’s nativist rhetoric. For William Galston, writing in Newsweek, working class whites vote for Trump because they “seek protection against all the forces that they perceive as hostile to their way of life—foreign people, foreign goods, foreign ideas.” And wary of Trump backers and their potential for violence if the Republicans lose the presidency, Salon’s Michael Bourne locates white working class anger in “1960s-era legislation for promoting the interests of immigrants and minorities over their own, just as they blame free-trade policies of both parties for sending their jobs offshore.” According to Bourne, they are either the hapless “victims of American progress or a bunch of over privileged bigots.”
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Joe Trapido: Epochs and continents: Potlatch, articulation, and violence in the Congo

This post is part of the Modes of Production feature moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling and Joe Trapido.

From the sixteenth century onward, European trading networks grew ever more extensive. In some places, they displaced or directly subjugated the indigenous population early on. In others, merchants entered trading relationships with locals. In some parts of Asia, these traders interacted with forms of social organization that had affinities with Europe—dense populations with large merchant classes, and states that extracted tribute over large areas (Wolf 1997: 73–101). In other places, power and resources were distributed according to very different rules: in particular, wealth was more directly related to the person. This is not to say that these places lacked markets or currency;  they often held large markets and had an amazing diversity of objects for mediating transactions, but these objects are better seen as an element of, or adjunct to, the value of the person. I am calling such societies human modes of production.1
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Samuel W. Rose: Marxism and mode of production in the anthropology of native North America

This contribution elaborates on the relevance of the concept of mode of production in understanding contemporary North American indigenous populations. While examination of Native American peoples played a crucial role in early Marxist thought, Marxist theory has never been popular in examinations of North American Indians and has even been rejected by many indigenous intellectuals as ethnocentric, colonialist, and otherwise irrelevant to the political interests of indigenous peoples. This discussion has two parts: first, I briefly discuss the history of Marxist engagements with Native American anthropology, showing how this engagement played a crucial role in the development of anthropological and Marxist theory. In the second part, I draw from Elizabeth Rata’s (2000) concept of neotribal capitalism to discuss the relevance and advantage of mode of production–based analyses to Native North America.

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Rachel Smith: The “hidden abodes” of temporary migration programs

Organizations such as the World Bank have repeated what has been called the “migration development mantra.” In this, remittances appear as a panacea—or “wonder drug” (Green 2015)—for economic development, while in real world interactions “social remittances” import liberal ideals such as “work ethic,” “financial literacy,” and democracy. Thus, this “mantra” reflects a neoliberal revival of 1960s modernization narratives (Glick Schiller and Faist 2010; Wise and Covarrubias 2009) with which it promotes temporary worker programs in particular, as they facilitate the return of the migrant and remittances and thus (it is assumed) greater economic development in the area of origin.
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Joseph Trapido: Music, ritual, and capitalism in west central African history

There was a strong relationship between music and political-economic power in the precolonial Congo basin. This was because music was an integral part of a ritual nexus that dominated social life. Those who controlled the ritual nexus became rich and powerful, and controlled trade between locals and an expanding capitalism (MacGaffey 2000). Here I will show how music was important to this interface.
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Andrew Green: Negotiating musical and capitalist divides in San Cristóbal

The literature on sustainable livelihoods in the field of development studies emphasizes the importance of fostering diverse sources of income for economic entities like individuals, families, and communities (Chambers and Conway 1992). Especially in rural areas, economic actors often cope with shocks and stresses by spreading their bets, using different forms of capital (such as human, economic, and physical) to produce specific livelihood strategies (Scoones 1998: 6–8). Some (see O’Brien Bernini 2015) have recognized the relevance of this approach to music making. Continue reading