SOAS news – March
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, latest edited volume Marx in the Field is out.
Marx in the Field is a unique edited collection illustrating the relevance of the Marxian method to study contemporary capitalism and the global development process. Essays in the collection bring Marx ‘to the field’ in three ways. They illustrate how Marxian categories can be concretely deployed for field research in the global economy, they analyse how these categories may be adapted during fieldwork and they discuss data collection methods supporting Marxian analysis. Crucially, many of the contributions expand the scope of Marxian analysis by combining its insights with those of other intellectual traditions, including radical feminisms, critical realism and postcolonial studies. The book defines the possibilities and challenges of fieldwork guided by Marxian analysis, including those emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The collection takes a global approach to the study of development and of contemporary capitalism. While some essays focus on themes and geographical areas of long-term concern for international development – like informal or rural poverty and work across South Asia, Southern and West Africa, or South America – others focus instead on actors benefitting from the development process – like regional exporters, larger farmers, and traders – or on unequal socio-economic outcomes across richer and emerging economies and regions – including Gulf countries, North America, Southern Europe, or Post-Soviet Central and Eastern Europe. Some essays explore global processes cutting across the world economy, connecting multiple regions, actors and inequalities.
While some of the contributions focus on classic Marxian tropes in the study of contemporary capitalism – like class, labour and working conditions, agrarian change, or global commodity chains and prices – others aim at demonstrating the relevance of the Marxian method beyond its traditional boundaries – for instance, for exploring the interplays between food, nutrition and poverty; the links between social reproduction, gender and homework; the features of migration and refugees regimes, tribal chieftaincy structures or prison labour; or the dynamics structuring global surrogacy. Overall, through the analysis of an extremely varied set of concrete settings and cases, this book illustrates the extraordinary insights we can gain by bringing Marx in the field.