Review, Abstracts, Vol. XXII

Review XXII, 1, 1999

Lawrence Birken, "Chaos Theory and 'Western Civilization'"

The concept of "Western civilization" has for far too long epitomized a "developmentalist" approach to history common to traditional Marxist and modernization theorists alike. In the "Western Civ." classroom, most students seem to view historical development as a sort of train trip in which each period under consideration is simply another station (Next stop, Renaissance!) in an inevitable journey toward modernity and European dominance. An application of certain ideas from chaos theory to the study of Western civilization not only permits us to break with this overly teleological conception, but to depoliticize the study of the West's role in the larger history of the world.

Mauro Ceruti, "Narrative Elements: A New Common Feature Between the Sciences of Nature and the Sciences of Societies"

The analysis of the crucial developments in the history of Homo sapiens seems to resonate with the new interpretations of many remote episodes of natural history, like the "Cambrian explosion," the extinction of the dinosaurs, the origins of agriculture, and many others. The convergence gives greater weight to contingency and narration, and being suspicious of the explanatory omnipotence of single causes of an adaptive nature. Through its changes, its discontinuities, its twists and turns, and its apparent regressions, the trajectory of natural history defines a huge variety of other possible histories, an entanglement of bifurcations and of irreversible choices. Inside this maze of contingency is a powerful factor. Every choice becomes necessary only ex post facto. During the course of natural history certain possibilities become fixed and linked together, thereby eliminating some possible alternatives, but also producing new ones. The natural history of these constraints, and the natural history of possibilities, are tightly linked; they coevolve together. The impossibility of reducing the change of events into underlying atemporal regularities has forced even physics to open its walls to the deep significance of the Darwinian revolution, and to the type of rational consciousness which it had to elaborate in order to recognize and understand evolution. Today evolutionary biology is transforming itself precisely through a discussion of the unity of the scientific method. Its scenarios show the specific type of rational consciousness which is required to research life and history. In this way, they show the undiminishable plurality and diversity of the types of rationality and the methods necessary for science to study different types of phenomena.

Jim Mac Laughlin, "European Gypsies and the Historical Geography of Loathing"

Despite the fact that they are a global minority, world-systems theorists have curiously neglected Gypsies. On the one hand, Gypsies have resisted centuries of victimization, including attempted ethnocide, they stood apart from the wage labor system, and shunned the moral economy and material values of early and industrial capitalism. On the other hand, they have performed important integrative roles in evolving capitalist and precapitalist societies, providing as they did the "social cement" which linked together otherwise isolated communities all across Europe. Yet Gypsies could well be considered Europe's classic outcasts, its very own "untouchable caste." This article uses Norbert Elias's analysis of the civilizing process to examine the racialization of Gypsies over the Braudelian longue durée. It traces the origins of anti-Gypsy loathing to religious fundamentalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and then links the victimization of Gypsies in the nineteenth and early twentieth century to a fusion of nationalism, proprietorialism, and Social Darwinism. Locating intolerance for Gypsies in a wider European discourse on progress and development, this article treats anti-Gypsy racism as a product of internal civilizing processes operating within European society from the sixteenth century onwards. This has resulted in a progressive lowering of the thresholds of tolerance separating Gypsies from "settled" Europeans, just as it has contributed to a radical disavowal of Gypsy culture since the nineteenth century.

Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas, "La vision braudelienne sur le capitalisme antérieur à la Révolution Industrielle"

This essay seeks to reconstruct the main lines of the concepts of Fernand Braudel concerning the development of capitalism prior to the Industrial Revolution. Following the successive stages of his elaboration of these concepts, the article discusses the complex links between capitalism and modernity and hence, in the Braudelian perspection the relationship of industrial and preindustrial capitalism. Finally, the article raises the question of the possibility of constructing future noncapitalist modernities, of its difficulties and implications.

Steven Sherman, "Hegemonic Transitions and the Dynamics of Cultural Change"

Transitions between what Arrighi calls the three hegemonies of historical capitalism (the United Provinces, United Kingdom, and United States) are characterized by cultural change which is both recurrent, progressive, and retrogressive, and differentiated across space. Recurrently, an intellectual and cultural movement which posits new forms of understanding and representing the world emerges as hegemons loose their power to define the boundaries of legitimate discourse. Examples include the Enlightenment and modernism. In addition, new popular cultural forms, such as the novel and the cinema, take shape. Progressively, each hegemony has played a more significant cultural role in shaping the order it organizes on a world-systemic scale. Retrogressively, there has been an alternation in orientation between hegemons which suggest an abstract and universal perspective (the Dutch and Americans) and an historical, particularistic perspective (the British). In each transition, the most important centers of new intellectual and cultural practice are not located in the rising hegemon, while the rising hegemon produces the most significant popular culture. Although it is often suggested that the current period represents a phase in which American cultural hegemony is unshakeable, this article suggests that current cultural phenomena such as postmodernism, multiculturalism, and the spread of Japanese popular culture resemble trends in previous hegemonic transitions.

Review XXII, 2, 1999

Arif Dirlik, "Place-based Imagination: Globalism and the Politics of Place"

The question of space has acquired increased visibility with recent changes in the global economy, and intellectual trends associated with postmodernism. Against the tendency to conflate different spatialities in contemporary discussions, this article stresses the need to distinguish places from spaces, and elaborates the importance of places for both social analysis, and political projects against ideologies of the state, capital, and globalization. Places are conceived here as open but grounded, and as projects to be realized rather than as givens. Insistence on places does not imply rejection of other spatialities or totalities--as implied in such categories as class, gender, and ethnicity--but rather seeks to ground them in the experience of everyday life. "Place-based" needs to be distinguished from "place-bound," for it recognizes the need for "trans-place" analysis and political alliances. Places come with liabilities of their own in the form of inherited inequalities and oppressions. A critical conception of place, unlike conservative reaffirmations of community, needs to address such inequalities in the re-formation of places, for which it requires the aid of categories that transcend places. Also necessary are trans-place alliances to counter the spatial configurations of power. This article argues that indigeneous forms of social and political organization should be given serious consideration in the contemplation of places as projects.

Mario González Arencibia, "Alternativas de Desarrollo Frente a la Globalización y al Derrumbe del 'Socialismo Real': Opciones Para Cuba"

El trabajo tiene como propósito ofrecer un análisis acerca del impacto del proceso de globalización en la crisis del "socialismo real" y sobre las opciones para Cuba en el nuevo contexto global, haciendo particular énfasis en la necesidad de la búsqueda de estrategias de desarrollo frente a la globalización.

Partiendo del criterio de tener en cuenta a la globalización como el resultado de la evolución del conocimiento científico proponemos una conceptualización del fenómeno que permite brindar un paquete de medidas que pudieran verse como alternativas de desarrollo frente al proceso de globalización, en las cuales, esta considerado el caso cubano en particular por su nivel de relacionamiento económico externo con los países ex-socialistas.

Jan de Vries, "Great Expectations: Early Modern History and the Social Sciences"

This article explores the relationship between history and the social sciences with particular reference to the long-term interaction of the urban and rural sectors in European societies. Its starting point is a reflection on the fate of Fernand Braudel's historical project, now that his great work on the Mediterranian is 50 years old. It proceeds to identify new developments in Early Modern European economic history and then to elaborate on one of the key historical problems of this period, the interrelationships between urban and agrarian economies.

Review XXII, 3, 1999

Samir Amin, "History Conceived as an Eternal Cycle"

Amin considers that Frank's static vision of the global system has turned into a bland philosophy of history conceived as an eternal cycle. Such a vision flattens history and ignores the major issue which is always to identify what is new. It eliminates from the scope of the study the question of what is at stake in contemporary struggles, suggesting a mechanical answer: the end of a cycle - as if history was exclusively the product of an objective simple law of successive hegemonies, rejecting any innovative capacity of the subjects of history. In contrast Amin submits that the specificity of modern capitalist globalization - i.e., the dramatic polarization that it has produced and which did not exist before - calls for the invention of a new system moving beyond capitalism.

Giovanni Arrighi, "The World According to Andre Gunder Frank"

Frank's greatest achievement in ReORIENT is to have pieced together more systematically than ever done before the abundant, if still largely ignored, evidence of the existence in the period 1400-1800 of a global economy centered on Asia, and within Asia on China. Nevertheless, the attempt to use this reconstruction to pull the rug out from under the feet of almost the entire body of Western social theory is flawed. What Frank ends up doing is not "history as it really was," as he claims, but world history as seen from a very one-sided perspective strongly biased against the analysis of change, diversity, and the non-economic aspects of global economic interaction.

Elizabeth Rata, "The Theory of Neotribal Capitalism"

This article examines the hypothesis that a neotribal capitalism regime of accumulation has emerged in New Zealand as a consequence of Maori and Pakeha (New Zealand European) interdependent responses to the invasive forces of post-Fordist global capitalism. This ethnically distinctive regime is characterized by a tribal mode of regulation in which newly-established class relations are concealed by a neotraditionalist ideology.

Immanuel Wallerstein, "Frank Proves the European Miracle"

This book, ostensibly devoted to denouncing European historiography and theory, turns out to be a paean to European ingenuity and cleverness. There is an analysis, chapter by chapter, of the inconsistencies and unsupported deductions in Frank's arguments. The weakest part is the weak explanation of how Europe, given Frank's argument of Chinese centrality, was finally able to achieve temporary superiority as of the nineteenth century, which even Frank reluctantly acknowledges. The heart of the argument revolves around whether or not there was a world-historical break circa 1500, and therefore whether or not capitalism exists, which Frank wishes to deny. In order to slay the Eurocentric demon, Frank abolishes capitalism. In the end, the book is a paean to economic efficiency.

Review XXII, 4, 1999

Samir Amin, "Post-Maoist China: A Comparison with Post-Communist Russia"

The article considers the various alternatives in post-Maoist China. While the general line is that of capitalist development, it remains open to a variety of possibilities depending on the struggles within the ruling class as well as its relations to the working class and peasants. A national bourgeois strategy which does not submit to the main tendencies operating at the global level, therefore different from that of the compradore-Russian ruling class choice, is possible here, allowing a margin for social compromise with the popular classes.

Michel Giraud, "Migrations from Guadeloupe and Martinique into Metropolitan France"

In the same way as that of populations stemming from postcolonial immigrations into France, people from Guadeloupe and Martinique who have settled in metropolitan France show their will to assert an identity which would be their own. Fueled by the disillusions brought about by growing difficulties of integration and, also, by the development of the national, or even at times nationalistic, feeling over the past 30 years or so in the French Caribbean, this will is not deprived of ambiguities nor contradictions. As regards some of these, special attention should be paid to the gap between an essentialist approach, still dominant today, to cultural identity (which considers the specificity of these populations as the continuation of the insular identities), and the social processes by which the Caribbean communities living in metropolitan France are becoming every day more independent of their source societies from many aspects, even from a cultural one. Through this kind of attention, it is another approach to cultural identity, in our opinion closer to reality, which should be expressed, that which sees identity assertions by migrating populations as the favored base of social and political strategies devoted to improving the integration of these populations into their new place of residence and, eventually, to the social promotion of these in this new space.

Ramon Grosfoguel, "Introduction: 'Cultural Racism' and Colonial Caribbean Migrants in Core Zones of the Capitalist World-Economy"

This article deals with the role of what has been called the 'new racism' (Barker 1981) in the reproduction of 'imagined historical borders' that excludes colonial people from access to equal rights within the core of the capitalist world-economy. Postwar Caribbean colonial migrations to the metropoles provide an important experience for the examination of racial discrimination in core zones. First, they were part of a colonial labor migration to supply cheap labor in core zones during the postwar expansion of the capitalist world-economy. Second, they migrated as citizens of the metropole. Third, they had a long colonial/racist history with the core. Fourth, with the contraction of the capitalist world-economy after 1973, first and second generation Caribbean colonial migrants began to be excluded from the labor market. Fifth, they have been the target of the 'new racist' discourses that attempt to keep them in a subordinated position within the core zones by using 'cultural racist' discourses. Given those similarities, this article attempts to answer the following questions: Why do Puerto Ricans, Surinamese, Dutch Antilleans, French Antilleans and West Indians experience discrimination and, in many instances, marginalization despite the fact that they share metropolitan citizenship? What are the respective differences for each metropole in the discrimination and racism experienced? How does this illustrates differences among the four core states? What is the relationship between the history of empire, the narratives of the nation and cultural racist discourses with the socio-political incorporation of Caribbean colonial subjects in the metropoles?

Ramón Grosfoguel, "Puerto Rican Labor Migration to the United States: Modes of Incorporation, Coloniality, and Identities"

This paper discusses the Puerto Rican migration within the broader context of Caribbean migration to the United States. The first part is a discussion about the theoretical framework. The second part is a discussion about the historical origins of Caribbean migration to the United States. The third part discusses the post-1960s Caribbean migrants class origin. The fourth part is a discussion about the modes of incorporation to the host society. Finally, the last part discusses the challenges of the identification strategies of Puerto Ricans to traditional conceptualizations of identity.

Philip Nanton, "Migration Dynamics: Great Britain and the Caribbean"

This article explores the extent to which the Caribbean origin population in Britain and the remaining British colonial territories in the Caribbean are incorporated into the notion of being British, or remain as marginal to British society. The article will first demonstrate the dynamism of the topic by identifying the changing nature of the Other through British historical perspectives of the Caribbean. Then the article explores the dynamism of the changing Other in the British and Caribbean context. The first part of the article provides a brief historical analysis to illustrate the changing way in which the "British" Caribbean territories and the colonial population who lived there were perceived in Britain. This involves an exploration of conferred identities, that is, the way that colonial and later national public policies contribute to perceptions of and the creation of the Caribbean Other. The second part of the article examines the changing nature of the Caribbean origin population in Britain. It focuses on the mode of reception and the nature of incorporation of the migrant population and those of second and later generations of Caribbean origin. This section examines tensions between incorporation and rejection in the society as well as examining the fragmented ways in which the Caribbean origin population has mobilized its resources in Britain.

Livio Sansone, "Small Places, Large Migrations: Notes on the Specificity of the Population of Surinamese and Antillean Origin in the Netherlands"

Colonial immigration from Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean differs from both immigration from other countries to the Netherlands and Caribbean immigration to France and the United Kingdom. The article gives a general picture of Antillean and Surinamese migration and adjustment in the Netherlands. In spite of similarities, between the Surinamese and the Antillean experience there are more differences than usually assumed in terms of class, ethnic origin, age group and time of stay in the Netherlands. The article focuses on the situation of the Surinamese Creoles --a population of African, Afro-European and Afro-Asian origin--which accounts for just over the half of the Surinamese population in the Netherlands.

Prabirjit Sarkar, "Are Poor Countries Coming Closer to the Rich?"

The growth patterns during the last three decades did not show any sign of convergence. A typically poor country in the early 1960s did not experience a higher real growth. Hence there is no catching up of the standard of living of the rich countries by the poor countries.


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