Social Movements and the Constitution of Capitalism in India

  • Wed 21 Feb 18

    14:00 - 16:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Subir Sinha

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

Essex Accounting Centre is delighted to welcome Dr Subir Sinha to our weekly research seminar series to present his paper, titled 'Social Movements and the Constitution of Capitalism in India'.

Event abstract

In this seminar, I propose that the relation between social movements of the poor and ‘capitalism’ is not only oppositional: it is also constitutive of capitalism and how it is instantiated locally, nationally and globally. Similar arguments have been made in the context of relations between new social movements, including of worker militancy, and emergence of neoliberalism in ‘advanced liberal democracies’. I suggest that these approaches have limited utility in understanding postcolonial settings of neoliberalism such as India, where the institutional architecture of capitalism, and the political terrain on which it operates, have remained different in critical ways. Among other things, the ‘state’ as the institutional ensemble that mediates the relation between ‘capital’ on the one hand and ‘nature’ and the ‘people’ on the other. In India, movements over land, over forests and over cultural identity – movements that cover the spectrum from the ‘far left’ to the ‘far right’ as conventionally understood – have had some success in forcing legislative, legal and administrative changes. The provision of ‘cheap nature’, ‘cheap food’ and ‘cheap labour’ (to adopt Jason Moore’s terms), which have been central to the recent success of capitalism in India, have thus become more difficult to sustain. As a result, informality and illegality become important in strategies for the accumulation of capital at multiple scales. I end by speculating on the ways in which the legitimacy of the state is affected in the process.

Speaker biography

Dr Subir Sinha studied History at the University of Delhi (BA) and Political Science at Northwestern University (MS, PhD), and has taught at Northwestern University and the University of Vermont. His research interests are institutional change, sustainable development, social movements, state-society relations in development, and South Asian politics, with a current focus on decentralised development in India, early postcolonial planning, and on the global fishworkers' movement.

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