University of Sussex
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Finding space in the modes of production debate: the value of Latin America

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-12, 10:19 authored by Chris Hesketh

This article is inspired by several recent scholarly developments. First, there has been renewed interest in debates surrounding the concept ‘mode of production’. Second, there has been a passionate debate about how we understand core–periphery relations in relation to the broader question of capitalist development. Finally, it has been argued that, beyond opposition to neoliberal development, there has also been a revival of Marxist theoretical perspectives and praxis in Latin America. However, despite some diverse work engaging with debates that use the concept ‘mode of production’ in the Latin American context, there has been no systematic attempt to look at major Latin America Marxist thinkers and their contribution to this debate. This article seeks to correct for this by looking at the key work of René Zavaleta and José Carlos Mariátegui as two of the continent’s most original Marxist thinkers. By doing so, I offer three distinct contributions. First I remove the mode of production debate from its relatively narrow, Eurocentric preoccupations, and second, I displace the largely temporal concerns of the debate (when was capitalism?) to give it a more spatial rendering (where is capitalism?). This opens the possibilities of thinking about co-existing differential spaces within a social formation. Finally, this method of analysis is therefore able to give a realistic assessment of the social forces involved in contemporary struggles by specifying what social antagonisms exist and where alliances can be constructed. I conclude that an analysis grounded in modes of production is thus attentive to specificity, and this provides a basis for thinking about transformative possibilities in and beyond Latin America.


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SAGE Publications

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  • International Relations Publications

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