Book Review of Jason Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life by Henry Bernstein

Cover image of Jason Moore's book Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital

Henry Bernstein is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS and Adjunct Professor in the College of Humanities and Development, China Agricultural University, Beijing (e-mail: hb4@soas.ac.uk). 

This post is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. It is a summary of the talk given by the author as part of the Agrarian Change Seminar Series.

Capitalism in the Web of Life. Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, by Jason W. Moore. London and New York: Verso, 2015. Pp.316 + xi. £19.99 (pb). ISBN 978-1-78168-902-8

This book has been keenly awaited by those who have followed Jason Moore’s sequence of extraordinary articles over the last 15 years or so, some of which have appeared in the Journal of Agrarian Change.

Moore’s book is not an easy read. This is not because it is not clearly written, which it is (though a few passages still elude me), but because of the massive challenges the author has set himself, and therefore his readers. While a follower of his work over the years, it has taken me some time to separate and outline the five main ingredients of the book, and in a fashion that inevitably omits much of interest and provocation. It seemed to be a good use of my effort in assembling (and trying to connect) those main ingredients to share them with others as a kind of guide to engaging with this book which is evidently one step, albeit a very big one, in what is a continuing (monumental) work in progress. It leaves me with many issues and questions which will continue to stimulate and exercise me, several of which I indicate briefly here. Continue reading

India’s Land Question

Cybercity IT Park in Pune, India. Photo: Wikipedia

Cybercity IT Park in Pune, India. Photo: Wikipedia

Michael Levien is an Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on India and seeks to advance a nascent sociology of dispossession. He teaches on international development, agrarian change, dispossession, and social theory.

This post is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. It is a summary of the talk given by the author as part of the Agrarian Change Seminar Series, October 19, 2016.

While the Indian state dispossessed millions of farmers for dams and public sector infrastructure during the period of state-led development (c. 1947 to 1991), land dispossession has become unprecedentedly contentious during India’s neoliberal period. These new farmer protests, unlike the smaller number of anti-dam movements of the 1980s, have actually stopped major investments, made “land grabs” an electorally salient issue, and forced changes to India’s eminent domain law. At the centre of these protests have been privately developed Special Economic Zones (SEZs), for which India’s state governments began dispossessing rural land in the early 2000s. In this talk, based on my book-in-progress, I drew on nineteen months of ethnographic, archival and interview research focused on villages dispossessed for one of North India’s largest SEZs to address three major questions: what do SEZs tell us about how land dispossession has changed with the shift from state-led development to neoliberalism in India? What are the consequences of this change for dispossessed farmers? And what are the implications of this change for our understanding of India’s land wars? Continue reading

Notice – New Virtual Issue – ‘The Political Ecology of Agrarian Change’

S. C. Streams Black Diamond Mine, Pennsylvania, USA, 1946. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/NARA.

S. C. Streams Black Diamond Mine, Pennsylvania, USA, 1946. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/NARA.

This notice is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. 

Journal of Agrarian Change, Virtual Issue, April 2016: The Political Ecology of Agrarian Change

Editor: Liam Campling

This virtual special issue collects work on the political ecology of agrarian change. Over the last 15 years, Journal of Agrarian Change has published dozens of articles on the ecology and environmental history of agrarian political economy. Notable among these is the 2010 special issue ‘Productive Forces in Capitalist Agriculture: Political Economy and Political Ecology’ (Vol.10, Issue 3), which is available for free online. Continue reading

Notice – Special Issue July 2016: A Festschrift for Henry Bernstein

Photo: Rice farmers in Kerala, India, courtesy Mathieu Schoutteten @ Flickr

Photo: Rice farmers in Kerala, India, courtesy Mathieu Schoutteten @ Flickr

This notice is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. 

Journal of Agrarian Change 16(3)

Special Issue – The Political Economy of Agrarian Change: Essays in Appreciation of Henry Bernstein 

Guest Editors: Liam Campling and Jens Lerche

Henry-Bernstein-Photo JoACIssue Cover

This special issue of the Journal of Agrarian Change presents five essays and an interview in appreciation of Henry Bernstein. Henry Bernstein’s contributions to peasant studies, agrarian political economy and development studies are significant, from his seminal 1977 paper ‘Notes on Capital and Peasantry’ onwards. His book Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change has been translated into Bahasa, Chinese, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish, and serves as a textbook for students of agrarian political economy in many corners of the world. With Terence J. Byres, he led and nursed what are now the main spaces for debate in agrarian political economy and political sociology – founding the Journal of Agrarian Change in 2001 and editing it for seven years, and before that, joining Byres in 1985 as co-editor of The Journal of Peasant Studies, where they worked together for 15 years.

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