Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University

Abstracts Volume XXIX



Review, XXIX, 1, 2006


Jonathan Nitzan& Shimshon Bichler, "New Imperialism or New Capitalism?"


Over the past one hundred years, the institution of capital and the process of its accumulation have been fundamentally transformed. However, the theories that explain this institution and process have remained largely unchanged. The purpose of this article is to address this mismatch. Using a broad brush, the authors outline a new, power theory of capital and accumulation. This theory is used to assess the changing meaning of the corporation and the capitalist state, the new ways in which capital is accumulated, and the specific historical trajectory of twentieth-century capitalism up to the present.



Richard E. Lee, “Complexity and the Social Sciences”


Complexity is not a novel concern for social analysts.  Indeed, a primary consideration has been managing complexity, generally through simplification.  The emergence of complexity studies in mathematics and the sciences over the past quarter century, however, has cast the question in new light.  The recognition of the ubiquity of deterministic but unpredictable systems in the natural world and the implications of their study undermine the authority of social scientific work based on methodological models employed heretofore and borrowed from traditional modes of inquiry in mathematics and the natural sciences.  The implications of this work suggest that an understanding of the social world in our contemporary period of systemic transformation must conceive values as an integral part of a historical social science and not simply as a matter of "bias" or individual ethics or moral code. 



Minqi Li & Adam Hanieh, "Secular Trends, Long Waves, and the Cost of the State:  Evidence from the Long-Term Movement of the Profit Rate in the U.S. Economy"


This article presents a new measurement of the profit rate and its determinants in the U.S. economy over the period 1869–2000 that takes into account the effect of taxation costs. The text identifies four long waves in the movement of the profit rate, each lasting about 40 years. Both the profit rate and the profit share had tended to fall from the first to the third long wave and the rising taxation costs had been the primary factor behind the decline of the profit rate and the profit share. These findings are consistent with Wallerstein’s argument that the inherent contradictions of the modern world-system have led to secular tendencies of rising wage and taxation costs.



Review, XXIX, 2, 2006


Ramón Grosfoguel, “World-System Analysis in the Context of Transmodernity, Border Thinking, and Global Coloniality”


This article is an attempt to decolonize political-economy paradigms using five decolonial perspectives: world-systems analysis, coloniality of power, U.S. Third World Feminism, Latin American philosophy of liberation, and border thinking. These decolonial perspectives emerged as part of the global struggles against decolonization

that, although intensified in the 1960’s, have a longue durée of more than 500 years in the making. The article starts with a discussion on Eurocentric epistemology and its consequences for poltical-economy paradigms. Then it is followed by a suggested decolonial way of reconceptualizing political-economy. Finally, using “border thinking” and “transmodernity” as decolonial critiques of modernity, the article discusses decolonial alternatives to the existing “European/Euro-American modern/colonial capitalist/partriarchal world-system.”



Aníbal Quijano, “El ‘Movimiento Indígena’  y las Cuestiones Pendientes  en América Latina”


Much has been written, inside and outside Latin America, on the so-called “indigenous movement,” especially after the Chiapas insurrections in Jan., 1994 and, more recently, the political events in Bolivia and Ecuador. This reflects, primarily, an acknowledgement of the immediate political impact of the actions taken by the “indigenous” peoples, of the conflicts that these actions developed which threaten to create an important influence over the rest of the population. These indigenous uprisings put at risk, in an increased number of countries, the actual regimes (self-defined as democratic) and their “governability” over a population that is each day more discontent because its needs are increasingly unsatisfied. This population is learning to organize in new forms, raising unexpected demands to the dominant powers. However, the large majority of existing literature refers to the topic of identity as a demonstration of the infinite discourses on culture, mulculturalism, hybridity, etc., that is, as part of the large number of terms referring to identity issues disconnected from the question of power. Other lines of reflection have been neglected. These include speculation about the complex and long-term implications of the mobilization of the Latin American “indigenous” peoples, in particular with respect to alternative forms of labor and collective authority, and towards other forms of social existence. The author proposes here to open two questions not sufficiently discussed with respect to the “indigenous” movement, but in his judgment the most decisive and important about the near future of Latin American history: the relation of the “indigenous movement” to the nation-state and to democracy within the existing matrix of power.


Boaventura de Sousa Santos, “Between Prospero and Caliban: Colonialism, Postcolonialism, and Interidentity”


By concerning itself with the identity processes in the time-space of the Portuguese language, this article aims to contribute to the study of postcolonialism. Since modern Western identity is largely a product of colonialism, identity in the time-space of the Portuguese language cannot but reflect the specificities of Portuguese colonialism. Portuguese colonialism is a subaltern colonialism, itself colonized by reason of its semiperipheral condition, and not easily understood in the light of the theories that prevail in postcolonial thought in core countries, the latter derived from hegemonic colonialism. The author proposes the concept of inter-identity to account for a complex identity constellation, in which colonizer and colonized features are combined. Far from erasing the unequal power relations engendered by colonialism, inter-identity invites a complex analysis of such relations. The lack of hegemony on the Portuguese side encouraged the formation of internal colonialisms that prevail until today. Hence the article concludes that postcolonialism in the time-space of the Portuguese language, ­ a situated postcolonialism, ­ must manifest itself, in a time of neoliberal globalization, as anticolonialism and counter-hegemonic globalization.



Review, XXIX, 3, 2006



Eric Slater, “Caffa: Early Western Expansion in the Late Medieval World, 1261–1475”


The city of Caffa was the largest western colony in the late medieval world. For two centuries it was the center of Genoese dominance in the Black Sea; for half that time it was the western terminus of the Silk Road. Its history begins amidst the declining Byzantine Empire, the overseas expansion of the city-states of medieval Europe, and the formation of the Mongol Empire; it ends with the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the shift of the Genoese to Seville. This focus on the colonial city of early Western expansion follows recent studies that seek to identify the broad matrix of change in which the rise of the West occurred and shows an alternative path in the founding of the modern world-system.



Luis M. Pozo, “The Mechanisms of Class Accommodation in Precapitalist Europe: A Study in Hegemony”


This article investigates the mechanisms whereby dominant classes attempt to impose their hegemony (in a Gramscian sense) over a given social formation. It introduces the notion of mechanisms of class accommodation, referring to myths of community linking dominant and subordinate that predetermine collective experience in order to de-class social consciousness and political action through ideological conditioning (notions of common good and social harmony) and socio-political engineering (ritual and symbolic practices). These mechanisms are studied in Europe before the coming of mature industrial capitalism. They are Fictive Kinship (and relations of patron-clientage issuing from the fictitive/extended family-household), Corporatism (topographical, trade, and religious corporations), and Civism (a sense of communal, city-wide patriotism). These were the most important in practice, though there were attempts to articulate more inclusive conceptions at the level of the dynastic state. The patterns of accommodation across urban and rural Europe are highlighted, with a focus on the “city belt” (and especially on Venice) as the context on which ulterior processes of nation building and citizenship drew their inspiration.



Review, XXIX, 4, 2006 


Mohammad H. Tamdgidi, "Toward a Dialectical Conception of Imperiality: The Transitory (Heuristic) Nature of the Primacy of Analyses of Economies in World-Historical Social Science"


This article advances a nonreductive dialectical conception of the history of imperiality in contrast to materialist approaches, and illustrates both the relative historical validity and the transitory (heuristic) nature of the primacy of economies and their analyses in world-historical social science. This dialectic conception shows that politics, culture, and economy have played primary parts in the rise of distinct forms of imperiality in world history corresponding to ancient, medieval, and modern historical eras across multiple, but increasingly synchronous and convergent regional trajectories. The nonreductive dialectical mode of analysis reverses and relativizes universalistic modes of analysis of imperialism in terms of class. This mode of analysis also allows for considerations of political domination, cultural conversion, and economic exploitation as historical forms of deepening imperial practice which violates self-determining modes of human organization and development. Power-, status-, and class-based relations and stratifications are reinterpreted as forms of imperial practice. The notion of "imperiality" (in contrast to "imperialism") is used to denote both the macro-structural and the micro, intra/interpersonal, dynamics of the historical phenomena still shaping our everyday lives.



Abebe Zegeye and Maurice Vambe, "African Indigenous Knowledge Systems"


One of the troubling questions in Africa is how to isolate what it is that people have come to call indigenous, and what is not. The question becomes even more complicated when one attempts to explore the genealogies of intellectual history that have been named "African indigenous knowledge systems." The aim of this article is to trace and critique the variety of ways in which African knowledge systems have been named in Western scholarship, and the subaltern studies group inspired by the works of Indian diasporan intellectuals. The article ends with a critique of nationalist rhetorical modes of comprehending indigenous knowledge systems. We suggest that African indigenous knowledge systems are better appreciated in their changing-ness. Indigenous knowledge systems exist at different sites and that as instances of Africa's cultural memories, they cannot be written about in the singular. African knowledge systems have benefited from other cultures in as much as non-African knowledge systems have also survived through borrowing from Africa. As such, neither the Western academy, subaltern studies nor Africa's cultural nationalists can lay total claim and monopoly on understanding and naming Africa knowledge systems. We conclude by suggesting that cultural syncretism is the condition of possibility of African knowledge systems.


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