Tag Archives: capitalism

A Difficult Time: Archaeology and Modernity.

Alfredo González-Ruibal (National Research Council of Spain)
Despite its deceiving proximity (or perhaps because of it), the time of modernity is a difficult time to study for archaeologists. In fact, it can be argued that it can be more so than prehistoric temporalities. First, there is the epistemological question of how to produce relevant archaeological knowledge of recent periods, where there is an overabundance of written, visual and oral testimonies and a unique experience of coevalness. Secondly, the time of modernity is different to other times with which
archaeologists are used to deal with, because of its multilayered and heterogeneous nature: increasing social complexity, technology and globalization bring a proliferation and superimposition of temporalities, which is at odds with historicist perspectives. Finally, the time of modernity, as geographers and philosophers have abundantly demonstrated, has radical political implications. It is a time out of joint, as Derrida put it, an unjust time of violence and destruction that ultimately annihilates itself. In this talk, I would explore, through different examples, how an archaeological approach to the difficult time of modernity might look like.

*co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies

Incorporations: Capitalism and Collectivity

Matthew Hull (University of Michigan)

Incorporation, a process by which a group of individuals is constituted as a legal entity, should be placed alongside commoditization as a major mechanism through which human activities are drawn into capitalist processes. In contrast to commoditization, which draws labor, land, and things into capitalist transactions, incorporation brings the guidance of collective life into a capitalist order. Through incorporation, groups become recognizable to economic and political actors. This paper will explore incorporation through an examination of the great variety of kinds of sociality that have translated themselves into the form of the Anglo-American corporation, including an Indian village, US churches, parts of the Pakistan army, Maori/Native American/Canadian tribes, New Guinea descent groups. Of particular interest is how both the pre-existing sociality and the emergent corporation are shaped by their relations.

Cadastral Desire: Colonialism, Capitalism, and Landscape on Nineteenth Century Zanzibar

Sarah K. Croucher (Wesleyan University)

In this talk I explore the capitalist landscapes of Zanzibari clove plantations in the late nineteenth century. These were longstanding spaces of capitalist production, founded largely by Omani colonists utilizing enslaved African labor. But by the late nineteenth century British colonial rule was growing on the islands and colonial administrators stationed on the islands continually articulated their desire for an orderly landscape of capitalist production, which in turn would modernize and expand their income from taxation. However, ideas of cadastral survey remained only in the realm of desire. Omani plantation owners had no interest in such cartographic imaginaries, managing to deal with land ownership through radically different ways of understanding the landscape. In exploring British colonial desires I highlight the frail nature of European rule in this context, and the manner in which such desires also help us to understand broader subjectivies of landscapes on nineteenth-century Zanzibar.

*Co-sponsored by the African Studies Center