[Sugarman] Capitalism from the South: Call for abstracts and readings

Sharad Chari Sharad.Chari at wits.ac.za
Fri May 23 12:14:09 SAST 2014

Dear All,

A group of us met over 'capitalist lunch' at Bakubung to discuss various themes with respect to 'capitalism from the south' or 'southern critiques of capital' and related themes.  Some of the things that came up:

- Southern critiques of capital/ capitalism
- Critiques of 'mono economics' from a development economics perspective
- Jane Guyer's Marginal Gains and lived economies
- Margins, traffic jams as sites of blockage and productivity (marginal or informal activity)
- Biometric cash transfers as a way of dealing with identity in the absence of a biopolitical state
- Property relations and indirect rule in Africa, minerals and special rights in property
- Art markets and the commodification of 'African art'
- Lawyers from Brazil and China, and the place of SA corporate law firms
- Peter Braithwaite's Regulatory Capitalism
- James Hodge (sp?) and critical institutionalism
- Financial literacy/ numeracy
- Non-capitalist economic activity, Gibson-Graham's alternative economies, the real economy of fishing in Lake Victoria
- Environmental thought, Marxism and Capitalism - Jason Moore, Fernando Coronil
- Dow Chemical's acquisition of Union Carbide
- The Corporation as an organisational form
- Dispossession, extraction and climate change
- Crises of futurity, capital accumulation and the accumulation of carbon
- Pentacostalism and the prosperity gospel, 'winner's chapel', Pentacostal ccupation of old industrial buildings, middle class aspiration
- Informal economy, consumption, housing

As you see, it is quite an array of themes (and forgive me if they are incomplete, but you will appreciate that they are difficult to summarise!)  Yet, there was a sense that it might be worth trying to formalize what it might mean to interrogate Capitalism from the South from different perspectives and across the human sciences.  We expressed an interest in sharing readings on these topics, and of reconvening with papers for journal special issues (to be determined by the sets of papers that might logically group together).

The idea was to have a workshop on 'Capitalism from the South' sometime in the future, an additional day tacked onto one of the other WiSER/Wits-Michigan exchanges, which would also include a few others whose work is germane to the topic (Jane Guyer, Keith Hart, and various others come to mind, including several former Michigan Anthrohistorians including of course Coronil but also David Pedersen, Marina Welker and others, and Ravinder Kaur - this decision should of course be a product of conversation amongst the working group that emerges from this.)  We talked about aiming for papers next year, and a workshop either next year or the following.

If you are interested, please send a short paragraph abstract and 5 key readings that from your perspective attend to the topic of 'capitalism from the South' by June 15 to me (sharad.chari at wits.ac.za) copied to Howard (howstein at umich.edu).  Please note that whether or not you were at Bakubung, if you are part of the broader Michigan-Wits community interested in this theme, we welcome your abstracts and 5 key readings.

All Best,

From: Gabrielle Hecht [hechtg at umich.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:17 AM
To: sugarman at lists.wits.ac.za
Subject: [Sugarman] Toxicity, Waste, Detritus: Abstract solicitation and upload Instructions

Dear all,

The "Toxicity, Detritus and Waste" group (managed by Pamila Gupta and me) met this week to discuss ways of moving forward with this theme. In the long term, we hope to produce a collection of short, experimental verbal or visual essays (~2000 words), aimed at venues such as Africa is a Country<http://africasacountry.com/>  Somatosphere<http://somatosphere.net/commonplaces>  Chimurenga<http://www.chimurenga.co.za/>  and others (suggestions welcome). Steps toward that goal include articulating preliminary ideas, reading works in common, holding a workshop, and others to be determined.

Step 1: sharing preliminary abstracts

We agreed to share preliminary abstracts: low-stakes paragraphs merely intended to sketch out initial ideas about what we each want to explore. Capitalizing on the momentum we've built, we agreed to do these by TOMORROW, Friday 16 May. We'd initially thought we'd upload these into Dropbox, but Natasha heroically seized the day and built a WordPress site.  So, please follow the instructions below to upload your abstract directly onto our Wordpress site! It's very simple, we promise.

NOTE: We welcome your participation even if you couldn't attend the retreat (and thus the discussion). Please just let me and Pamila (Pamila.Gupta at wits.ac.za<mailto:Pamila.Gupta at wits.ac.za>) know that you'd like to join us. We will ask that you too upload an abstract, but we'll give you an extra week to do it (i.e., until Friday 23 May).  Please do pipe up soon: we will create a separate email list for this theme, so as not to burden the whole Sugarman site. If we don't know about your interest, we can't include you!

These abstracts will enable us to identify and clarify common interests and sharpen our focus and intentions. We can consider them as provisional, so you need not feel that you're locking yourself in!

Step 2: sharing bibliographic material

In order to have a common base, we ask everyone to submit up to 5 bibliographic items pertaining to our theme by 15 June. These can be texts, video, artistic material, etc. We will send more detailed guidelines later -- for now this is just a heads up.

Step 3: setting a workshop date

By the end of August, we aim to have set a date for a workshop sometime in the 2nd half of 2015. Keep an eye out for emails on this point.

Looking forward to interesting collaborations!


A. Overview

As mentioned above, Natasha Vally went ahead with setting up our site, and with writing instructions for all of us. THANK YOU Natasha! The intention is to have a very simple website that we can use for collaboration and sharing of text, video, audio and pictures. We will also use it for our longer term scheduling. View this as an experimental space -- we can update and shape it as needed.

B. Wordpress Instructions

These are really very simple and, if you have email, should not be a challenge at all. In order to keep this fun and collaborative, we need everyone to "buy in" by doing your bit!

To add your abstract to the site http://toxicityandwaste.wordpress.com/

1. Go to the Wordpress login page at

2. As your
username: toxicitywastedetritus
password: toxicityandwastepassword

(Note: if you already have a Wordpress account, you'll need to log out of that and log back in with the above username)

3.You will be taken to the Toxicity and Waste Wordpress site

4. On the left you'll see a tab that says "pages", click on "all pages"

5. If you scroll down you will see a page called "preliminary abstracts" and when you hover your mouse under it you will see "edit" click that

6. Now you just need to insert your paragraph into the block, below the ones already there. Please format your text following the ones that are already there: title in bold, your name and affiliation in italics, then your abstract in regular font.

7.Once you are done, click "update" on the right hand side of the page (it is is a blue button)

8. Done! You can view all the abstracts and all other information at http://toxicityandwaste.wordpress.com/

If you are having serious issues, you can email natasha.vally at gmail.com<mailto:natasha.vally at gmail.com> for assistance. But please don't just ask her to do it for you -- give it your best effort first!

Closer to June, we will resend instructions on how to add your bibliographic suggestions. They are very similar to the instructions above.

Gabrielle Hecht<http://gabriellehecht.org>
Professor of History, University of Michigan
Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Society<http://www.lsa.umich.edu/sts>
Associate Director, African Studies Center<http://www.ii.umich.edu/asc/>

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