Accepted paper:

Looking for Gramsci in local resistances to capitalism: some reflections from the margins

Author:

Riccardo Ciavolella (CNRS/EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

Relying on case studies from the South, this paper discusses some subaltern groups’ forms of resistance against local materialization of global capitalism in the Sahel. In a broader and theoretical perspective, this paper questions the emancipatory role that political theories give to tactical and marginal forms of resistance of dispersed subjectivities while refusing collective strategies. In Gramscian terms, the paper wonders whether and how margins may turn into the scene of an organic counter-hegemony in an uneven capitalist world.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses some subaltern groups' resistance against local materialization of global capitalism. The paper relies on evidence collected during ethnographic and field analysis of some of these phenomena, such as former slaves mobilisation against speculation in African slums; "hunger riots" in the Sahel against food prices fluctuating on the global market; rebellions, banditry of former nomadic people coping with modernity. These experiences show the resistance capacities even of very subaltern groups coping with capital and market-driven crisis in these margins as new frontiers of capital. They seemingly confirm contemporary radical theories stressing the role of multitudes in struggling directly with the "Empire". The spatial margins of a globalized world may then turn out to be what Harvey calls "spaces of hope". Nevertheless, one should question the very impact of small-scale, and spontaneous popular bursts of counter-hegemony as long as political and economic dynamics affecting them are of the large-scale and structural type. Global capitalism turns into a "spectre": while it is a "presence" when incarnating locally with real and even tragic effects, it turns into a distant and inconceivable entity when asked to be politically accountable and socially managed. Small-scale, local and spontaneous resistances turn into a way for exorcising crisis. In a theoretical perspective, this paper questions the emancipatory role that political theories give to tactical resistance of dispersed subjectivities while refusing collective strategies. In Gramscian terms, the paper wonders whether margins may turn into the scene of an organic counter-hegemony in an uneven capitalist world.

panel PE39
Capitalism and global anthropology: Marxism resurgent