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Capital, Interrupted

Agrarian Development and the Politics of Work in India

2008
Author:

Vinay Gidwani

Capital, Interrupted

Challenges the most fundamental assumptions of capitalism

With the Patel caste of western India as his central case, Vinay Gidwani interrogates established concepts of value, development, and the relationship between capital and history. Capitalism, he argues, is not based on the operation of a series of laws, but is rather an assemblage of contingent logics stitched together. Capital, Interrupted unsettles understandings of concepts such as hegemony and agency, and, ultimately, rethinks the constitution of capitalism.

Capital, Interrupted is an outstanding work of social and political critique. It brings razor-sharp intellect to the analysis of development and agrarian politics.

Arun Agrawal, author of Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects

The central Gujarat region of western India is home to the entrepreneurial landowning Patel caste who have leveraged their rural dominance to become a powerful global diaspora of merchants, industrialists, and professionals. Investigating the Patels’ intriguing ascent, Vinay Gidwani analyzes its broad implications for the nature of labor and capital worldwide.

With the Patels as his central case, Gidwani interrogates established concepts of value, development, and the relationship between capital and history. Capitalism, he argues, is not a frame of economic organization based on the smooth, consistent operation of a series of laws, but rather an assemblage of contingent and interrupted logics stitched together into the appearance of a deus ex machina. Following this line of thinking, Gidwani points to ways in which political economy might be freed of its lingering Eurocentrism, raises questions about the adequacy of postcolonial studies’ critique of Marx and capitalism, and opens the possibility of situating capitalism as a geographically uneven social formation in which different normative or value-creating practices are imperfectly sutured together in ways that can equally impair and enable profit and accumulation.

Both theoretically astute and empirically informed, Capital, Interrupted unsettles encrusted understandings of staple concepts within the human sciences such as hegemony, governmentality, caste, and agency and, ultimately, does nothing less than rethink the very constitution of capitalism.

Capital, Interrupted

Vinay Gidwani is associate professor of geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota.

Capital, Interrupted

Capital, Interrupted is an outstanding work of social and political critique. It brings razor-sharp intellect to the analysis of development and agrarian politics.

Arun Agrawal, author of Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects

Capital, Interrupted is an ambitious book, and an exciting one. Gidwani’s efforts to rethink important Marxist concepts, through detailed case studies and rich abstract and theoretical discussion, provides and engrossing map of possible connections between often segregated modes of critical thought.

Environment and Planning A

Works like Gidwani’s that eschew the misconstrued distinctions between material and discursive approaches and spurious certainties of social theories are much needed, especially in development studies.

Economic Geography

This unique and multi-faceted account successfully... illustrates how organizational strategies by profit-seeking employers in a post-colonial context interface wit the cultural logic of workers and other “human and non-human” circumstances to shape a dynamic process of labor performance and agrarian change. This book will appeal to graduate students and academic researchers across disciplines concerned with the contested categories of development, capitalism, culture, identity, and work, and the negotiated relationships between them.

Political Geography

The book is a magnificent achievement in combining in-depth anthropological research with historical and creative theoretical analyses. This makes it highly relevant for scholars studying Indian society as well as those interested in larger issues of capitalism, caste, and class formation.

International Review of Social History

This is an excellent text, which shows rich ethnographic gifts, and a supple, incisive and creative theoretical mind.

Anthropology Review Database