A Marxist Perspective on Exiting Globalisation

westra-coverIn a new Review Article at the JCA publisher’s website, John R. Bell of the School of Business at Toronto’s Seneca College looks at JCA co-editor Richard Westra’s book Exit from Globalization, published by Routledge in 2015.

Quoting the abstract for the article, “Exiting Capitalist Globalisation: Westra’s Unoist Approach” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1283761):

… employs a variation of Kozo Uno’s levels of analysis approach to the comprehension of economic life under capitalism and beyond. The approach has three elements. First, a dialectical pure theory that simultaneously exposes both the logic that capital and its impersonal society-wide competitive market employed in its largely successful attempt to regulate and reproduce material/substantive/real economic life and capital-labour relations during liberal capitalism and the economic norms that all historical societies must observe by whatever means so as to continue to reproduce material economic life. Second, a stages theory (mercantilism, liberalism and capitalist imperialism) of capitalism’s historical development. Finally, empirical studies of aspects of historical capitalism, informed by the pure and stages theories and a knowledge of general economic norms, may be conducted. Following Albritton, Westra advances a theory of a final fourth stage of capitalism that Uno, who died in 1977, never contemplated. He theorises the ongoing disintegration of consumerism and capitalism itself in the present era. In fleshing out a model advanced by Sekine, Westra theorises the functioning of a vibrantly democratic, partially relocalised eco-socialism.

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Power and Ownership in Global Capitalism

In a new Review Articlestarrs available at the JCA publisher’s website, Sean Kenji Starrs of the Department of Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong, considers issues raised by his reading of Jeb Sprague’s edited volume, Globalization and Transnational Capitalism in Asia and Oceania (Routledge, 2016).

The Global Capitalism School Tested in Asia: Transnational Capitalist Class vs Taking the State Seriously (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1282536) critically assesses the notion of a transnational capitalist class. He does this with the use of new empirical data that considers national locations of capitalists and corporations.

The abstract is:

Globalisation continues to stir debate. One burgeoning theoretical perspective is the “global capitalism school” (GCS), anchored around the writings of William Robinson. The GCS argues that globalisation marks a new epoch as nationally-based elites are no longer the central locus of power in world order with the rise of a “transnational capitalist class” (TCC). Jeb Sprague’s edited volume, Globalization and Transnational Capitalism in Asia and Oceania, is the first book-length study testing key tenets of the GCS in the Asia-Pacific, and therefore fills a crucial gap. In this review article, it is argued that this book does not overcome what I believe are some key theoretical and empirical problems in the GCS, from not taking the state seriously to a dearth of corporate ownership data to demonstrate the existence of a TCC. To argue this, the article draws upon chapters in the book itself that are critical of the GCS, as well as from empirical research on corporate ownership and nationality. Nevertheless, it is concluded that this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the GCS, as well as the broader theoretical implications and empirical impacts of globalisation in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Third World Studies Center 40th Anniversary Conference

The University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center is organizing “The Third World Studies Center in Its 40th Year: An International Conference” to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. This conference will be held on 9-10 February 2017 at the GT Toyota Asian Center Auditorium, Asian Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

At forty, the Third World Studies Center gathers in this multidisciplinary conference its vast and resilient network of scholars and public intellectuals, academics and activists, advocates and bearers of unorthodox views from different parts of the globe. The conference aim is twofold. First, it is a time to reflect on the Center’s enduring history and its contributions to critical scholarship on Philippine, regional, and global issues. The Center has encompassed anti-authoritarian scholarship and social movements, peace studies and human security, democratization and critical articulations of the nation, political economy of transnational corporations and the history of mass transit, and digital piracy and cybersex–pioneering research efforts that established the center as a premier social science research center. Second, the conference will extend the role of the Center as meeting point for established intellectuals and young, emerging scholars. It renews a space that fosters the development of critical, alternative paradigms to promote progressive scholarship and action for change.

Dr. Alfred W. McCoy, Harrington Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will deliver one of the keynote addresses. Former TWSC Directors will be featured in one of the plenary sessions of the conference, while former TWSC visiting research fellows, contributors to Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, and members of the TWSC network will be presenting papers in panels centering around TWSC’s current research themes: (1) political economy and globalization, (2) social movements, (3) authoritarianism and democratic governance, (4) peace and human security, (5) culture and identity, and (6) (new) media and technology. Documentaries produced by student interns of TWSC and the University of Montreal will also be screened.

Participants will need to register online at the conference website: http://twscconference.up.edu.ph/. The two-day conference, which will include snacks, lunch, and a workshop kit, has a subsidized registration fee of PHP 2,000.00. Payment of the registration fee can be either made at the TWSC office in cash or paid on site.

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Khmer Rouge Trials

hintonIn a new and long review, JCA co-editor Geoffrey Gunn reviews Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer, by Alexander Laban Hinton and published by Duke University Press in 2016.

The book examines the crimes considered by the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the
Courts of Cambodia in dealing with Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity and inhumane acts. Gunn notes that, “[r]anging back to the 1980s, the process of bringing the perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide to trial has been labyrinthine, plagued by setbacks, resignations and manipulations, including even in the
selection of trial candidates.”

The subject of this book is “Duch,” born Kaing Guek Eav, alias Hang Pin, who joined in the dock, five senior surviving DK leaders, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith. Duch  was “otorious as head of the S-21 incarceration chamber at the (now museum) Tuol Sleng site in Phnom Penh…”.

Gunn concludes that:

Hinton has written a commendable work offering a new standard in the field of ethno-dramatisation linked to the performative realm of an international tribunal where the hybrid nature of the court against the background of a shattered Buddhist society rebuilding from the ashes makes for real spectacle. The book under review could be compared to Chandler’s classic Voices From S-21, yet with the hindsight of the ECCC trial, Hinton has gone further than previous studies, his own included, with his exploration of the psyche of one individual who also met the international legal principle of extended collective responsibility. His book also stands out for its literary and philosophical innovations.

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Neo-liberalism and Mining in India

Matilde Adduci of the Dipartimento di Culture, Politica e Società at the University of Turin has a new article, just made available at the JCA publisher’s page.

Neo-Liberalism, Mining and Labour in the Indian State of Odisha: Outlining a Political Economy Analysis (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1277252) is a path-breaking analysis that seeks to link changes in work in mines to the broader political economy of the region.

The abstract states:

madduci-fotografiaIn a context of mining privatisation and a drive towards labour informalisation in India, this article investigates the implications for labour of the neo-liberal agenda in the mining sector of the Indian state of Odisha. This is part of a broader research project investigating the social dynamics underlying the neo-liberal project in Odisha. The article initially summarises previous analysis of the political economy of mining privatisation policies in order to provide the background for understanding the implications of neo-liberal mining policies for labour. Acknowledging the complexity of labour’s situation and future, the article focuses first on mining labour relations and labour conditions in private iron ore mines; and second, the article seeks to detail the implications of the expansion of opencast mining in forest areas on the livelihoods of that part of the population – mainly consisting of Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis and partially of Scheduled Castes or Dalits – who in some measure depend on forest resources and/or agricultural land in mining areas. In sum, the article attempts to raise the issue of the dynamic interaction between the reproduction of a specific, local, socially and politically dominant class, and the reproduction of labour fragmentation within the neo-liberal turn of capitalism.

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Roh’s last interview widely covered

kimA couple of weeks ago, JCA published an important commentary and interview with President Roh Moo-Hyun. That last interview was conducted and introduced by Hyung-A Kim of the School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University.

President Roh Moo-Hyun’s Last Interview and the Roh Moo-Hyun Phenomenon in South Korea” discusses the “Roh Moo-hyun Phenomenon” in South Korea. It does this by linking with an interview which the late President Roh Moo-hyun had with the author in December 2008.

The interview is unique because it was Roh’s last interview conducted before his suicide on May 23, 2009 and because it involved a candid and critical self-assessment of his presidency.

Roh’s last interview has been now been covered extensively by the Korean media, both conservative and progressive. Almost every major newspaper has reported on it, including Choson Ilbo, the largest newspaper in Korea and Hangyoreh Sinmun, the most influential progressive daily. Several television broadcast stations, including Korean Broadcast Station (KBS) and the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) have discussed the interview.

Here are a few links:




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Area studies promoted

area-studiesJCA editor-in-chief Kevin Hewison has reviewed Area Studies in the Global Age. Community, Place, Identity, edited by Edith W. Clowes and Shelly Jarrett Bromberg (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1274130), published by Northern Illinois University Press at DeKalb in 2016. His review has appeared at the journal publisher’s website.

The reviewer refers to the gap “between those who favour the use of large multi-country databases to test hypotheses and those who are drawn to the study of individuals, communities and societies based on ethnographic, literary and cultural research.” The latter is dominated by approaches declared “post-structural, post-modern, post-colonial and post-Marxist” influenced by “comparative literature and neo-Foucaldian” perspectives where “problematising and historicising becomes fetishised, cast in a language of nouns made verbs to render the social, cultural and political world as complex as possible.”

This collection seeks something of a middle ground. It is “an interesting collection” that traverses a territory in an attempt to demonstrate the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to questions of identity. It is also “a useful call for increased attention to area studies and a text on how area studies can be done in a way that avoids disciplinary extremism.”

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