The central Gujarat region of western India is home to the entrepreneurial landowning Patel caste who have leveraged their rural dominance to become a powerful global diaspora of merchants, industrialists, and professionals. Investigating the Patels’ intriguing ascent, Vinay Gidwani analyzes its broad implications for the nature of labor and capital worldwide.
With the Patels as his central case, Gidwani interrogates established concepts of value, development, and the relationship between capital and history. Capitalism, he argues, is not a frame of economic organization based on the smooth, consistent operation of a series of laws, but rather an assemblage of contingent and interrupted logics stitched together into the appearance of a deus ex machina. Following this line of thinking, Gidwani points to ways in which political economy might be freed of its lingering Eurocentrism, raises questions about the adequacy of postcolonial studies’ critique of Marx and capitalism, and opens the possibility of situating capitalism as a geographically uneven social formation in which different normative or value-creating practices are imperfectly sutured together in ways that can equally impair and enable profit and accumulation.
Both theoretically astute and empirically informed, Capital, Interrupted unsettles encrusted understandings of staple concepts within the human sciences such as hegemony, governmentality, caste, and agency and, ultimately, does nothing less than rethink the very constitution of capitalism.
Vinay Gidwani is associate professor of geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota.