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Key Issues and Texts: Capitalism and Society

Seminar 1: Latin America ad the World Market: Theorising the Continent's Shifting International Intergration (PML)

This session examines key attempts to theorise Latin America’s insertion into the world market during the 20th and 21st century. It covers the broad arguments laid down by a series of schools originating from, or reflecting upon Latin America, including structuralism, dependency theory, centre-periphery analyses, and global capitalism. The focus throughout is on identifying how these different schools have theorised i) the specificity of Latin American economies, ii) the causes that explain Latin America’s position in the world market, iii) the processes and policies that could potentially transform the continent’s economic relations. In other words, this session explores how different schools of thought have attempted to understand how Latin America is inserted into the world market, why it is in such a position, and what could be done to change this.

Key issues

  • Structuralism
  • Dependency theory
  • Centre-periphery
  • Global capitalism
  • (Neoliberal) imperialism
  • Misplaced ideas

Key texts

Bibliography
 

Seminar 2: The State and Violence (GDW)

This session questions the state, what it is presumed to be and how it is lived. Taking prisons and policing as a departure point, we will examine what the state subsumes, who it protects, and does not; or, in other words, consider what the state means in Latin America, for Latin Americans. 

Key issues

  • Policing in contexts of violence
  • Organized crime, hyper-incarceration and prisons

Key text

  • Biondi, Karina. (2016). Sharing this Walk: An Ethnography of the PCC. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press

Bibliography
 

Seminar 3: Abandonment and it's byproducts (GDW)

This session puts the egregiousness of capitalism under scrutiny. It asks, following Foucault, if people are left to die, what do they create? Can they create? We examine three texts that answer these questions, using rich and detailed ethnography, in different spaces and populations in Latin America.

Key issues

  • Neoliberal capitalism and responsibility
  • Agency and predation
  • The politics of optimism

Key texts (see Moodle)

  • Biehl, J. G. (2001). Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment. Social Text, 19(3), 131-149.
  • Denyer Willis, L.  (2018). “It Smells Like a Thousand Angels Marching”: The Salvific Sensorium in Rio de Janeiro's Western Subúrbios. Cultural Anthropology, 33(2), 324-348.
  • O’Neill, K. L. (2017). On Hunting. Critical Inquiry, 43(3), 697-718.
     

Seminar 4: Class dynamics and class conflict in Latin America (HPN)

What does class analysis add to our understanding of the process of capitalist development in Latin America? This session introduces and contrasts different approaches to ‘class’ in Latin American studies. We will reconstruct different trajectories and histories of class formation in Latin America and discuss both the materiality and the politics of class.  We will examine classic and contemporary debates on class struggle, class conflict and on the intersections of class, gender and race. The session seeks to interrogate critically how class-analytical perspectives help account for the distinctive character of the development of capitalism in Latin America.

Key issues

  • Class formation
  • Class dynamics of development
  • Class conflict
  • Intersectionality

Key texts (see Moodle except for Hesketh)

  • Fishwick, A. & Selwyn, B., 2016. Labour-Centred Development in Latin America: Two cases of alternative development. Geoforum.
  • Hesketh, C. and Morton, A.D., 2014. Spaces of uneven development and class struggle in Bolivia: Transformation or trasformismo?. Antipode46(1), pp.149-169.
  • Portes, A. and Hoffman, K., 2003. Latin American class structures: Their composition and change during the neoliberal era. Latin American Research Review, pp.41-82.
  • Roberts, K.M., 2002. Social inequalities without class cleavages in Latin America’s neoliberal era. Studies in Comparative international development36(4), pp.3-33.

Bibliography
 

Seminar 5: Which Development? For Whom? Challenges from Latin America (PML)

This session discusses how Latin American authors have challenged ‘standard’ views of development and proposed alternatives during the past decades. It first examines how a series of concepts, theories and political platforms emerged in the struggle against neoliberalism, during the 1990s. This session then investigates the novel theoretical approaches and visions of development that have been proposed, during the 2000s and 2010s, in relation to the left-of-centre governments and the processes of commodities-based capital accumulation of the period. In examining these visions, the focus of the session is to identify what are their novelties, how they defy prevailing visions of development, and how they are related to the social, economic and political landscape of Latin America since the 1990s.

Key issues

  • Neo-extractivism
  • Commodities consensus
  • The compensatory state
  • Post-neoliberalism
  • The decolonial option

Key texts

Bibliography
 

Seminar 6:  Capitalism, Social Reproduction and Inequality (PML)

This session casts a broad look at inequalities in Latin America, exploring how processes at different scales and of different dimensions jointly re-produce the continent’s social formations and their constitutive inequalities. To this extent, the session investigates different approaches that highlight several aspects or causes of inequality, such as Latin America’s insertion into the world market, the internal distribution of power and resources, and the role of individual characteristics such as race, class and gender. The focus throughout is on understanding how and to what extent these approaches can be combined, ultimately aiming at an understanding of how capitalism is reproduced in Latin America in and through multiple inequalities.

Key issues

  • Inequalities
  • Centre-periphery relations
  • Intersectionality
  • Extractivism, environmental damage and inequalities
  • Social reproduction

Key texts

Bibliography