Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University

Review abstracts, vol. XXXI, 2008

 

Review XXXI, 1, 2008

 

Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas, « Les nouveaux mouvements antisystémiques en Amérique Latine : Une brève radiographie générale »

                                                                        

This article explains some of the main trends and elements of the new antisystemic movements in Latin America and explores problems such as the conception of power, the composition of the social bases of these movements, the strategies, the tactics, the new practices and discourses of movements like the neo-Zapatistas, the Movement of the Without Land of Brazil, the Piqueteros Movement in Argentina, or the most radical indigenous movements in Bolivia and Ecuador.

 

Amy A. Quark, “Toward a New Theory of Change: Socio-Natural Regimes and the Historical Development of the Textiles Commodity Chain”

While classic works point to the role of finance and crises of accumulation as the forces generating world-systemic change, other scholars suggest that these approaches overlook the influence of natural processes. I suggest that a sectoral approach to reconciling these competing claims can shed light on how sectoral uneven development is linked to change in the world capitalist economy. Developing the concept of the socio-natural regime, I argue that competing leading actors in a sector attempt to construct social, geographical, and ecological relationships to overcome key constraints to their expanded accumulation. Moreover, the key constraints faced by rivaling leading actors—and the solutions they develop—are different, based on their positions within the social, geographical, and ecological relationships of the world-system. I examine the textiles commodity chain (late 1700’s–present), tracing the construction of subsequent socio-natural regimes, dominated by Great Britain and the United States, and now potentially by China and transnational corporations.

 

Eric Vanhaute, “The End of Peasantries? Rethinking the Role of Peasantries in a World-Historical View”

 

This article tries to understand todays concerns about the decay of the peasantries and the loss of food security on a massive scale within a long-term and global perspective. Guiding questions are: How to handle the local scale of the peasant with the global scale of societal transformations? How to define peasantries? How is the fate of peasantries linked to economic development and social inequality? What can new research on the success and decline of peasantries teach us? Understanding the old and new “agrarian questions” calls for new historical knowledge of the role of peasantries within capitalist transformations. The existing knowledge is often deformed by a twofold myopia, the British Road to capitalist agriculture, and the European Experience of the dissolution of the peasantries within the industrial and postindustrial economies. Laying down the old premises of Westernized development reveals a different picture of a highly productive family-based agriculture that promotes local and regional income and survival systems, and internalizes costs of production and reproduction, in contrast to the dominant and ultimately dead-end tendency of historical capitalism. 

 

 

Review XXXI, 2, 2008

 

 

Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, “Empires against Emancipation: Spain, Brazil, and the Abolition of Slavery”

 

Cuba and Brazil were the major recipients of the transatlantic slave traffic in the nineteenth century and the last American countries in which slavery was abolished.  This article compares the Spanish and Brazilian political regimes that defended the traffic and slavery.  It also compares the abolition process in Cuba and Brazil and the impact of abolition on the Brazilian monarchy and the Spanish colonial state.

 

Carolyn Fick, “Revolutionary Saint Domingue and the Emerging Atlantic: Paradigms of Sovereignty”

 

This article focuses on a crucial period in the early histories of the first two emerging nations of the Americas, the one, the United States, already independent since 1783 and engaged in charting the course of its future development; the other, Saint Domingue, still formally a colony of France, struggling to become independent and, in the process, creating the foundations of the Haitian “state-to-be.” In particular, it looks at the foreign relations of Toussaint Louverture with the United States, and also with Great Britain and France roughly from 1797 to 1801, during which time Louverture was steering the colony toward the brink of independence. Ultimately he would have made Saint Domingue into an emancipated Black self-governing territory of the French empire. His economic relations with the United States and with Great Britain were crucial in the elaboration of his foreign policy for which the short-lived contingencies of the “quasi-war” between the United States and France from 1797-98 to 1800, as well as the prolonged war in Europe, provided the immediate opportunity. The examination of this period raises questions about the economic foundations for national sovereignty as well as the political foundations for popular sovereignty, individual rights, and freedom. This article attempts to assess on one hand the extent to which Saint Domingue under Toussaint Louverture had come close to achieving any of these goals, and on the other, the extent to which, by the force of circumstances or the force of his own will, these goals were undermined.

 

Claus Füllberg-Stolberg, “Economic Adjustments and the Fight for Cultural Hegemony in the British and Danish West Indies after Slavery”

 

The article focuses on the major problems of adjustments to emancipation in the British and Danish West Indies. The antagonistic conflict between planters and freed slaves over land and labor in terms of the reconstituted peasantry versus plantations is stressed. The fight over economic resources and new measures of labor control are investigated. The ideological aspects of abolition and the impact of Christian churches to establish a new moral and cultural order, especially the ambivalent and controversial attitude of the Moravian Church and its missionaries, is critically discussed. The massive outbreak of social and political unrest one generation after the abolition of slavery is dealt with in the epilogue.

 

Manuel Barcia, “‘A Not-So-Common Wind’: Slave Revolts in the Age of Revolutions in Cuba and Brazil

 

From its publication in 1979 Eugene Genovese’s From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Atlantic World created a series of discussions around the character of slave revolts in the Americas before and after the Age of Democratic Revolutions. This article looks at the origins and main positions within this debate, including the very concept of “Age of Revolution,” and attempts to bring the Brazilian and Cuban cases into the equation. The results, predictably, are not in line with Genovese’s propositions. The geographic, chronological, and ethnic particularities of Brazil and Cuba show two specific cases that do not fit into preconceived models. The author suggests that they need to be studied as such.

 

Rafael de Bivar Marquese, “African Diaspora, Slavery, and the Paraiba Valley Coffee Plantation Landscape: Nineteenth-Century Brazil” 

 

The article analyses the landscape and labor management devices adopted in the nineteenth-century Paraíba Valley slave coffee plantations. It argues that the presence of an enormous mass of enslaved Africans in a turbulent local and global conjuncture framed by world competition between different coffee producers and increasing slave resistance led planters to adopt measures of landscape administration that closely restricted slave autonomy in the labor process.

 

Ulrike Schmieder, “Histories under Construction:  Slavery, Emancipation, and Post-Emancipation in the French Caribbean

 

This article resumes the state of historiography on slavery, emancipation, and post-emancipation in the French Caribbean, particularly with respect to Martinique and Guadeloupe, with emphasis on gender questions. It treats laws on slavery, gender-specific division of labor, slave families, slave resistance, gendered forms of manumission, the abolition process, the substitution of slave labor by coerced labor of former slaves and immigrant contract workers, post-slavery conflicts in labor court records, and discusses open research questions, e.g., about former slaves’ ideas on, and agency in family and gender relations.

 

 

Review XXXI-3-2008

 

Sidney Mintz, “Creolization and Hispanic Exceptionalism”

 

This article seeks to clarify the meanings of “creole” and “creolization” by reference to the history of slavery in the Caribbean region. The region’s role in producing plantation sugar for export using slave labor underlay the creolization of Caribbean peoples. But the Hispanic islands did not go through a creolization process, unlike their neighbors. They remain sociologically and culturally quite different, as well as different from each other.

 

 

Ada Ferrer, “Cuban Slavery and Atlantic Antislavery”

 

This article examines the entrenchment of slavery in Cuba at the turn of the nineteenth century in the context of the rise of the two major antislavery forces of the period: the Haitian Revolution and British slave trade abolition. The revolution and abolition, unfolding in the precise moment of the Cuban sugar boom, profoundly shaped the character of Cuban slavery, from the place of slave-based production in international markets, to the infrastructure and routine practices of the institution, to the enslaved's experience of their enslavement and their understanding of real-time possibilities for freedom.

 

Javier Laviña & Michael Zeuske, “Failures of Atlantization: First Slaveries in Venezuela and Nueva Granada”

 

The article examines different microslaveries (“first slaveries”) in Spanish America with their links to the Atlantic world until 1800 (Coro, Cumaná, Barlovento-Tuy in Venezuela, Cartagena, Antioquía, Chocó and different mines in Nueva Granada/Colombia) and compares main elements of them (like the hacienda-plantation and forms of property) with landscapes of slavery in Cuba since the second half of eighteenth century, using the observations of the Humboldt diaries. The main conclusion is that the microslaveries in Colombia and Venezuela failed in their attempts of atlantization because of the higher profits of contraband, because of the unfinished conquista, and because of the resistance of slaves, while in Cuba the control of the Creole oligarchy over new forms of capitalist plantations (ingenios) and transatlantic slave contraband leads to an Atlantic “2nd slavery” or “mass slavery 2.0”.

 

 

Jane Landers, “Slavery in the Spanish Caribbean and the Failure of Abolition”

 

As a military, political, and economic dependency of Cuba, one of the major slave trading colonies of the Caribbean after the eighteenth century, Florida almost inevitably became part of the Atlantic trade in slaves. Florida linked Havana and Charleston, North America’s foremost slave port, whose traders had supplied African slaves to Florida during the brief British occupation of 1763-84, and some of whom had become Florida planters. As the end of the legal slave trade drew near, Cubans and Charlestonians, alike, anticipated increased demand and big profits. Because Florida belonged to Spain and was not legally restrained by the U.S. embargo, it became an important slave trading entrepôt after 1808. Even after Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821, slavers continued to deposit large numbers of Africans along familiar Florida coastlines and thereafter, they were spirited into the lower South, just as W.E.B. Dubois first claimed in 1896.

 

 

Flávio dos Santos Gomes, “Peasants, Maroons, and the Frontiers of Liberation in Maranhão”

 

This article examines maroon communities (quilombos) and their articulation with broader social economic networks in the Gurupi-Turiaçu region of Maranhão, Brazil during the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century. These communities are analyzed as part of more extensive historical processes of peasant formation.  From this perspective, we evaluate narratives of punitive expeditions and memoires describing contacts, combinations, and fusions of these maroon communities with other social sectors. Such documents reveal movements for land occupation, economic interchange, and social-cultural invention that have their origin in scenarios of peasant sector migration and autonomy beyond the economic expectations and control of landowners. Through them we analyze the developmental logic and disputes related to the conditions and agencies of slavery and post-emancipation that go beyond the “organized” public policies of migration and land occupation in this particular region.

 

 

Dale Tomich, “Thinking the ‘Unthinkable’: Victor Schoelcher and Haiti

 

Through an examination of French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher’s account of Haiti published in 1843, this article interrogates anthropologist Rolph Trouillot’s interpretation of the “unthinkability” of the Haitian Revolution. While the Haitian Revolution has been ignored, distorted, and treated with incomprehension and disdain in the West, the use of the notion of “unthinkability” to interpret its reception contributes to another form of incomprehension by eliminating from consideration the political and historical contexts that are constitutive of resistance. Schoelcher’s text represents a remarkable effort to “think” Haiti and the Haitian Revolution from within the presuppositions of French Republicanism. His interpretations demonstrate the broad range of possibilities within Enlightenment thought. They converge with the thought and practices of the Haitian masses and the enslaved population of the French West Indian colonies, but they do not coincide with them. The non-identity of their thought forms the space of politics between Schoelcher and slaves and is a necessary ground of historical analysis.

 

 

Review XXXI-4-2008

 

 

Charles Lemert & Sam Han, “Whither the Time of World Structures after the Decline of Modern Space”

 

In this article, we trace the development of Immanuel Wallerstein’s formulations of time and space by looking at his various writings on epistemology, social science method, and geopolitics in which he has broached the subject. We compare them with the ideas found in the writings of others who have offered more technologically-informed ideas of space and time, such as those of Paul Virilio, to see whether they may be whithering as a result of observable processes in global history. We maintain that new media technologies, in particular, require a reconsideration of not only time and space but also the prospects for contemporary left politics in the twenty-first century, in which technologies will continue to play an immense part.

 

 

Ken-ichi Watanabi, “Long Waves in the U.S. Economy: The Dating of Long Waves in Terms of the Rate of Capital Accumulation”

 

If the chronology of the long waves in the U.S. economy is determined in terms of the rate of accumulation of real capital stocks, supplemented by the growth rate of real GDP and GNP, the following dating is given: ① 1815 – 1837(P) – 1864(T)  (50 years), ② 1865 – 1903(P) – 1933(T)  (69 years), ③ 1934 – 1973(P) – 2004(T)  (71 years). This dating corresponds relatively well with the evolutionary development of transportation infrastructures, such as canals, railroads, and surfaced highways, as shown by Grübler & Nakićenović.  In addition, it could be concluded that this dating also reflects the periods of socioeconomic changes in the United States. Although the detection of long waves is limited to the U.S. economy in industrial times, the present article would serve as an illustrative case showing the advantages of the use of rate of capital accumulation in the research of long waves.

 

 

Maria Lois, “Place and Marketplace: Reconstructing Sites in the World-Economy”

 

Changes in the world-economy constantly restructure the categories of organization of social differences. Commodification of places, for instance, is a process that affects the making of identities linked to tourist destinations and expectations. The aim of this article is to give a preliminary analysis of place-making around the ways they may be created, lived, and consumed in the contemporary world-economy, through a case study. Allariz (Galicia, Spain) is a town where the reconstruction of the social has led to changes in the territorialization of communal spaces. In this town, in response to world economic pressures in rural areas of southern European countries, ethnogenesis and cultural consumption have become, at the same time, a provisioning strategy and a way of life. In 1989, a social conflict ended with a change of the municipal government. Since then, a number of policies of heritage intervention, discursively linked to a political project, have been implemented. The main instruments of the intervention have been the creation of an Ethnographic Park formed by five museums; the rehabilitation of the Historical Downtown; and the opening of an Eco-Space, a testimonial place for ecological values. The politics associated with these interventions have turned Allariz into an icon in the Galician nationalist imagination and an example of local development and rehabilitation of cultural and historical heritage. In all these actions, territory has become a cultural good. A new symbolic space has been articulated based on identity projections and re-creations; it speaks of Allariz as a place where rural tourism and cultural consumption are the capital elements of socioeconomic dynamics—as provisioning strategy—and of new representations of local culture and domestic spaces, as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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