Uneven development and environmental inequality in Italy: Revisiting Marxist anthropology through ecological Marxism
Antonio Maria Pusceddu
Paper short abstract:
This paper argues that ecological Marxism can offer useful insights for expanding and advancing the contribution of Marxist anthropology to the contemporary understanding of value formation, accumulation, exploitation and social reproduction across different temporal and spatial scales.
Paper long abstract:
Over the last decades, ecological Marxism expanded our understanding of Marx's dialectic of natural-social metabolism, highlighting the relevance of the ecological dimension in Marx's critique of capitalism. Through a rigorous investigation of the "metabolic rift" (J.B. Foster) and the "ecological value analysis" (P. Burkett), several works emphasized the fundamental inter-connection between the contradictions of capitalism and the natural conditions of production, pointing out the recurring frictions between economic-financial crisis and environmental degradation. This paper argues that ecological Marxism can offer useful insights for advancing the contribution of Marxist anthropology to the contemporary understanding of value formation, accumulation, exploitation and social reproduction across different temporal and spatial scales. Drawing on ethnography of livelihood practices in Brindisi, an industrial city in southern Italy, the paper addresses the intersection of uneven development and environmental dispossession. Home to chemical, coal and oil-based industries - peripheral articulations of multinational corporations, the city also shows high rates of unemployment, poverty and widespread informal precarious employment. Industrial pollution, soil contamination and health risk define the main "environmental issues", around which revolve much of the internal social and ideological conflicts over the livelihood dilemma of the "job blackmail". Following the broader historical development of capitalism in Italy, the paper provides an ethnographically grounded discussion of the link between uneven development and environmental dispossession through the concept of the "metabolic rift". Revisiting debates on "uneven development" and "unequal exchange" the paper argues that ecological Marxism can offer useful theoretical underpinnings to a Marxist anthropology of today's world.
Marx @200: historical materialism for today's world [IUAES Commission on Global Transformations and Marxian Anthropology]