Volume IV Issue 1

Special issue 2010

1. Critiques and developments in world-systems analysis: an introduction to the special collection

Richard Lee.
From its inception, the world-systems perspective was not only enormously influential in long-term, large-scale social research; it also attracted a set of serious critiques. These fell into the general areas of the emergence of the capitalist world-economy; reductionism in the mode of argument; surplus appropriation and accumulation, including the question of class; and the general exclusion of an analysis of any role for "culture." It is concrete developments in world-systems analysis over the past three decades, although not to the exclusion of explicit responses to critiques, that have gone a long way in addressing these concerns. They fall most notably into the areas of commodity chains, households, world-ecology, and the structures of knowledge.
Section: Articles

2. Nonwaged peasants in the modern world-system: African households as dialectical units of capitalist exploitation and indigenous resistance, 1890-1930

Wilma Dunaway.
Colonialism did not transform African peasants into waged labor. A majority of peasants worked as forced laborers, often unpaid, and they returned to their agricultural household labor as soon as they completed work assignments mandated by the colonizers. Colonial Africans resided in mixed livelihood households in which nonwaged labor forms (both free and unfree) predominated, and very few became dependent on wages. For a majority of colonial Africans, informal sector activities, tenancy, sharecropping, and subsistence production on communal plots were not temporary nonwaged forms on an inevitable path toward proletarianization. Wage earning was not the primary mechanism through which these households were integrated into the modern world-system. Instead, these households primarily provided nonwaged labors to capitalist commodity chains that, in turn, extracted surpluses from them and externalized costs of production to them.
Section: Articles

3. "This lofty mountain of silver could conquer the whole world": Potosí and the political ecology of underdevelopment, 1545-1800

Jason Moore.
By the 1570's, Potosí, and its silver, had become the hub of a commodity revolution that reorganized Peru's peoples and landscapes to serve capital and empire. This was a decisive moment in the world ecological revolution of the long seventeenth century. Primitive accumulation in Peru was particularly successful: the mita's spatial program enabled the colonial state to marshal a huge supply of low-cost and tractable labor in the midst of sustained demographic contraction. The relatively centralized character of Peru's mining frontier facilitated imperial control in a way the more dispersed silver frontiers of New Spain did not. Historical capitalism has sustained itself on the basis of exploiting, and thereby undermining, a vast web of socio-ecological relations. As may be observed in colonial Peru, the commodity frontier strategy effected both the destruction and creation of premodern socio-ecological arrangements.
Section: Articles

4. The rise, maturity and geographic diffusion of the cotton industry, 1760-1900

Florence Molk.
This article examines the trajectory of the cotton industry, including calico printing, over the period 1760-1900. From its beginnings in England as a leading industry of the capitalist world-economy, it spread geographically on a major scale to finally reach the United States and Japan. Over the long term, it is argued that as it expanded and competition increased, profit rates tended to fall, although unevenly.
Section: Articles

5. "The dangerous classes": Hugo Grotius and seventeenth-century piracy as a primitive anti-systemic movement

Eric Wilson.
This essay discusses the historical and textual representations of piracy in the writings of Hugo Grotius, primarily De Indis/De iure praedae (1603-1608) and the Commentarius in Theses XI (c. 1600). Contrary to popular belief, Grotius, in stark contrast to Jean Bodin, was not an advocate of the constitutionally homogenous Nation-State. Rather, his central concept of divisible sovereignty, the lynchpin of the constitutional theory of his early writings, unambiguously presents us with the object of the heterogeneous State. In Grotian theory, the State may be "read" as a composite construction, with a residual degree of inalienable sovereignty accruing at each unit-level. Even if only unconsciously, Grotius describes a concurrent para-political subdivision of the state between institutional Government (the "magistrates") and civil society, one that constitutes an operational system of governance within the Nation-State. Like his contemporary Johannes Althusius, Grotius' theory allows for the emergence of a wholly "private," albeit lawful, mode of authority. This is most apparent in Grotius' treatment of the mercantile trading Company and its Privateering operations. The corporatist theory of sovereignty permits the Company's private agents of violence, the legally ambivalent Privateer/Pirate, to be invested with a requisite degree of sovereignty. The Grotian theory of divisible sovereignty, investing the seventeenth-century Pirate […]
Section: Articles

6. Structures of knowledge in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic, 1731­-1980

Sanem Güvenç-Salgârlâ.
It is argued that the historiographical approaches prevalent in the Ottoman Empire and then in the Turkish Republic, observable in both academic and cultural production and implemented in the education system, were closely related to material transformations in politics and economics. It is further shown, however, that these relations were not of a one-way causality in either direction, but rather part of a singular whole. Debates over the construction of the past and the modernization project survive today in discussions arising from Turkey's possible candidacy for membership in the European Union.
Section: Articles