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Seminar: An extractive turn in global capitalism? Patterns of valorization, social struggles, and the state

By Prof. Sandro Mezzadra, University of Bologna

Wed 24 Apr 2019
4:30 - 6:00 pm


Social Sciences Chamber, 11/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Prof. Sandro Mezzadra (University of Bologna, author of Border as Method)

Moderator: Prof. Eric Florence (French Center for Research on Contemporary China)
Discussant: Prof. PUN Ngai (University of Hong Kong)

The talk will address the question of the peculiarity of contemporary capitalism from the point of view of its spatial and temporal coordinates against the background of a rethinking of the Marxian notion of Gesamtkapital, “aggregate capital.” Drawing upon a book I recently published with Brett Neilson (The Politics of Operations, Duke UP, 2019), I will discuss both the global dimension of capitalist accumulation today and the distracted temporality of “development.” Combining an analysis of extraction, logistics, and finance I will contend that an expanded notion of “extraction” allows grasping crucial features of contemporary processes of valorization and accumulation as well as shedding light on the new nature of exploitation.

Such concepts as living labor and social cooperation will be reframed in order to propose a point of entry into the analysis of the main challenges confronting social struggles across diverse geographical scales. The role of the state will be also tested in the talk, with respect to its relations with capital as well as to the emerging global order and disorder. The position of China and the peculiarity of the Chinese version of global capitalism will be also discussed in the framework of this analysis.

Sandro Mezzadra teaches political theory at the University of Bologna. He has been visiting professor and research fellow in several places, including the New School for Social Research (New York), Humboldt Universität (Berlin), Duke University, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris), University of Ljubljana, FLACSO Ecuador, and UNSAM (Buenos Aires).
In the last decade his work has particularly centered on the relations between globalization, migration and political processes, on contemporary capitalism as well as on postcolonial theory and criticism. He is an active participant in the ‘post-workerist’ debates and one of the founders of the website Euronomade (www.euronomade.info).

Among his books: Diritto di fuga. Migrazioni, cittadinanza, globalizzazione (“The right to escape: Migration, citizenship, globalization”, ombre corte, 2006), La condizione postcoloniale. Storia e politica nel presente globale (“The postcolonial condition: History and politics in the global present”, ombre corte, 2008) and In the Marxian Workshops. Producing Subjects, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. With Brett Neilson he is the author of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Duke University Press, 2013) and of The Politics of Operations. Excavating Contemporary Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2019).

He is the coordinator of the Horizon 2020 European research project PLUS (“Platforms, Labor, Urban Spaces”), 2019-2021.

HKU Sociology

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