‘Interlocking Transactions’: Micro-foundations for ‘Racial Capitalism’

Presented by Sharad Chari

Monday, 7 June, 2021 - 16:00

This is a draft chapter for a book edited by me, Melanie Samson and Mark Hunter, celebrating the work of Gillian Hart. The book is structured around concepts from Hart’s work; chapter authors sit with one of these concepts, to think alongside Hart through the preoccupations of their own research. I use this opportunity to do two things: (1) to turn to the interdisciplinary scholarship on the ‘agrarian question’ in the 1980s from South and Southeast Asia to which Hart was an important contributor, particularly to witness the complexity and materialist commitment of this body of work and its non-linear and differentiated conception of agrarian capitalism, and (2) to show how the latter is key to contemporary debate on the concept ‘racial capitalism’ which is better on ideology and consciousness than on material concerns. I conclude that the agrarian debates offer necessary micro-foundations for a conception of racial capitalism that might attend to the multiplicity of outcomes in a time of divergent (uneven and combined) transformations of capitalism.

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