Tues 12.01.15 | Capitalism and Cotton: Two Histories, Interwoven

Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History Penguin Random House, 2015 (paper)

Fink, McCartin and Sangster, eds., Workers in Hard Times: A Long View of Economic Crises University of Illinois Press, 2014

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According to Sven Beckert, cotton was central to capitalism's development, and in particular its accelerating globalization. A key part of his narrative highlights the crisis brought on by the abolition of slavery in the US, when both capitalists and governments looked to new regions and workers for the raw cotton they desperately needed.

Mon 11.30.15 | Oil and the American Way of Life

Matthew T. Huber, Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital University of Minnesota Press, 2013




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Why is it so difficult -- politically unfeasible, apparently -- to reduce American's massive consumption of petroleum, despite global warming? Geographer Matthew Huber reflects on the "American Way of Life" and how it was generated in response to the crisis of capitalism in 1930s -- and, in turn, set off a rightwing backlash in the 1970s.

Tues 10.27.15 | Nature, Capitalism, Crisis

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Humans seem to be at war with nature -- epitomized by the system of capitalism, which plunders as it grows. But what if we understood the realm of Nature as not separate from the human realm of Society? Radical scholar Jason Moore suggests that we need to embed our critique of capitalism within the web of life on earth – so as best to oppose it.


Mon 10.19.15 | Commodifying the Oceans

Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark, The Tragedy of the Commodity: Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Rutgers U. Press, 2015



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The oceans are in turmoil, but unfortunately most of it is out of sight and therefore out of mind. Environmental sociologist Stefano Longo explores the multiple threats to the oceans, from overfishing to coral reef collapse to ocean acidification. He weighs in on whether the notion of the “tragedy of the commons” is sufficient to explain the roots of the crisis.

Wed 9.09.15 | Post-Neoliberal Capitalism?

Albena Azmanova, “The Crisis of the Crisis of Capitalism”

Albena Azmanova, "Crisis? Capitalism is Doing Very Well. How is Critical Theory?"

Albena Azmanova, The Scandal of Reason Columbia U. Press, 2012

Azmanova & Mihai, eds., Reclaiming Democracy Routledge, 2015

The Program in Critical Theory at U.C. Berkeley

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Where does capitalism stand today? If the system is crisis-ridden and hasn't delivered the goods to large sectors of the population, why aren't we in a revolutionary moment? And what has happened to the neoliberal version of capitalism that first emerged in the 1970s? Albena Azmanova contends that we've entered a new stage of capitalism, one in which a few are handed opportunities and the rest are made to shoulder the risks.

Tues 9.01.15 | Innovation Under Neoliberalism

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If innovation is the engine that drives capitalist enterprise, what role, if any, should universities play in feeding that engine? The creativity that Christopher Newfield seeks to nurture in students doesn't match the kind coveted by neoliberal elites. He points to a number of disturbing trends in higher ed, and to differences in capitalist development between East and West.

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