EUROPE AND THE PEOPLE WITHOUT HISTORY
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University of California. 1997. 552 s. Limhft. 23,3x15,3cm. I wrote the book as an anthropologist but also drew on history and the social sciences. I tried to be historical by envisaging the unfolding of structures and patterns over time. I also attempted to relate the findings of anthropology to perspectives drawn from a historically oriented political economy with the emphasis on the historical. The term political economy, usually defined as the study of ways in which resources are made available to society and the state, tends to confound two kinds of inquiry. One works with techniques derived from market economics to assess state fiscal policy. The other, which I associate myself, studies societies, states, and markets as historically evolving phenomena and hence questions whether conceptions of these arrangements particular to the capitalist experience can be generalized to cover all times and places. We must remember that Karl Marx subtitled his Kapital A Critique of Political Economy. I thus use the term political economy to designate inquiries into the economic foundations of different polities and societies in their changing trajectories, I drew on both history and political economy in order to locate the peoples studied by anthropology in the larger fields of force generated by systems of power exercised over social labor. These systems are not timeless; they develop and change. It is thus important to understand how they unfold and expand their reach over people in both time and space. Although I wrote as an anthropologist rather than as a professional historian, I think history matters. It is also important to understand how and why these systems develop and extend their sway over people, and I located the rationale in the ways power and the economy sustain and drive each other on. Although I am not an economist, I think a grasp of a historically grounded political economy is imperative in understanding the structures that determine and circumscribe peoples lives. Contrary to the opinion that this does not tell us much about real people doing real things, I think it has a lot to do with just that. There may be pie in the sky when you die, but how the pie is dished out on the ground has considerable existential relevance.. The title of this book posed an initial difficulty in presenting this problematic. The phrase the people without history is not my own; it goes back to the nineteenth century. Marx and Engels used it to signal their lack of sympathy with some national separatist movements in Eastern Europe. I meant it to be ironic, but that irony was lost on some readers. My intent was to challenge those who think that Europeans were the one who made history. I took a.d. 1400 as the initial dateline for the presentation precisely because I hoped to make clear that European expansion every where encountered human societies and cultures characterized by long and complex histories. I argued that these developments were not isolated from one another but were interlocked and that this interconnectedness held also for the world that Europe built. The history of European expansion interdigitates histories of the peoples it encompassed, and their histories in turn articulate with the history of Europe. Since much of this history involved the rise and spread of capitalism, the term Europe can also be read as shorthand for the growth of that mode of production. It incubated in the European peninsula of the Eurasian landmass, then expanded its sway in widening circles over all the continents. My objective in writing this book was neither to present a record of world history that would encompass the globe nor to develop a history of capitalist expansion as such. The idea was to show that human societies and cultures would not be properly understood until we learned to visualize them in their mutual interrelationships and interdependencies in space and time. I asserted this idea on pragmatic grounds, not because I think everything in the world is ultimately connected to everything else. What has been called functionalism in the social sciences remains methodologically useful, especially when we explore internal connections that are not manifest and obvious. At the same time, we need to continually remind ourselves that the elements of any configuration are re rarely stable and are unlikely ever to return to an original state of equilibrium. Connections within social configurations are marked by lines of tension, contradiction, and fracture, and they are exposed to the pressures generated in the larger fields of interaction that surround them. Societies and cultures have always formed parts of larger systems. This was so before the rise of capitalism, and it has become increasingly the case as the capitalist mode of production has colonized ever more spaces of social and cultural life all over the globe. It IS a commonplace to say this expansion has brought about significant changes in the social and cultural arrangements of peoples everywhere, but a major task remains: to conceptualize and explain both the causes of expansion and the nature of its effects. To characterize these interdependencies and their consequences, I drew from Karl Marx?s stock of useful concepts that of the mode of production. As I explain in the text, I find the idea analytically useful and intellectually productive. Its emphasis on how a society mobilizes social labor draws attention at one and the same time to the human relations to the natural environment, the social relations of humans to humans, the institutional structures of state and society that guide these relations, and the ideas through which these relationships are conveyed. The use of such relational synoptic concepts is one of the important strengths of the Marxian tradition.
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Inbunden med skyddsomslag. 316 sid. Bokförlaget Bra Böcker. Tryckår 1999. Översatt till svenska av Gertrud Hemmel. # Fortsättningen på ett av filmkonstens mästerverk : CASABLANCA. ¤ Svensk text och Mycket Gott Skick ¤