Capitalism and Political Subjectivity in Latin America

Syllabus

The course will interrogate the relationship between the dynamics of capitalist subsumption and the logic of political subjectivation among Latin American social thinkers of the 1960s and 70s.

In Latin America, the 1960s and 70s witnessed new a wave of Marxist theory that attempted to capture the objective and subjective specificity of capitalist development in the region. By questioning the tenets of economism and culturalism that characterized orthodox Marxism and modernization theory, respectively, the social and political thought from this period reflected on the logic and historical articulation of capitalism in the region and on the psychic, social and political subjects that it produced. However, in attempting to conceive of history and class-consciousness beyond the bounds of orthodoxy, Marxist debates from this period were also marked by a certain division in the way that authors posited the relationship between socioeconomic transformation and radical politics. On one hand, theorists focused on the economic and extra-economic mechanisms of capitalist accumulation and the historical insertion of Latin American societies into the world market. On the other, they conceived of ever more complex frameworks for understanding the subjective dimension of political radicalization in a way that presumed the autonomy of this process from capital. The course will attempt to think through this “missed encounter” between capitalist accumulation and political subjectivity, at a theoretical level. Readings will include Marx, Lenin, Balibar, Bartra, Laclau, and Rozitchner, among others. Reading knowledge of Spanish is required. Discussions will be conducted in Spanish or in English, depending on registration.

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Pre-Requisites

Graduate standing or special permission from the instructor.