Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism

Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism

a Public Culture Book

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Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: 14 b&w photographs, 7 color photographs Published: July 2001

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Globalization and Neoliberalism, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

The essays in Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism pose a series of related questions: How are we to understand capitalism at the millennium? Is it a singular or polythetic creature? What are we to make of the culture of neoliberalism that appears to accompany it, taking on simultaneously local and translocal forms? To what extent does it make sense to describe the present juncture in world history as an “age of revolution,” one not unlike 1789–1848 in its transformative potential?
In exploring the material and cultural dimensions of the Age of Millennial Capitalism, the contributors interrogate the so-called crisis of the nation-state, how the triumph of the free market obscures rising tides of violence and cultures of exclusion, and the growth of new forms of identity politics. The collection also investigates the tendency of neoliberal capitalism to produce a world of increasing differences in wealth, environmental catastrophes, heightened flows of people and value across space and time, moral panics and social impossibilities, bitter generational antagonisms and gender conflicts, invisible class distinction, and “pariah” forms of economic activity. In the process, the volume opens up an empirically grounded, conceptual discussion about the world-at-large at a particularly momentous historical time—when the social sciences and humanities are in danger of ceding intellectual initiative to the masters of the market and the media.
In addition to its crossdisciplinary essays, Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism—originally the third installment of the journal Public Culture’s “Millennial Quartet”—features several photographic essays. The book will interest anthropologists, political geographers, economists, sociologists, and political theorists.

Contributors. Scott Bradwell, Jean Comaroff, John L. Comaroff, Fernando Coronil, Peter Geschiere, David Harvey, Luiz Paulo Lima, Caitrin Lynch, Rosalind C. Morris, David G. Nicholls, Francis Nyamnjoh, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Paul Ryer, Allan Sekula, Irene Stengs, Michael Storper, Seamus Walsh, Robert P. Weller, Hylton White, Melissa W. Wright, Jeffrey A. Zimmerman


“[R]aises many thought-provoking questions. For instance, what effects , if any, will the creation of a global marketplace have on the traditional concept of the nation-state? This should give rise to lively debates, indeed.” — Wilbur Devereux Jones , Perspectives on Political Science

"[C]ompelling. . . . This collection, though broad, offers theoretical insight into the study of neoliberal globalization, fleshed out with several excellent ethnographic case studies. The insights from this book, particularly the introduction, will surely shape future inquiry by anthropologists, historians, geographers, and others."

— Donna Perry , Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"[I]nformative and insightful essays. . . . Each contribution offers an eye-opening analysis—grounded in solid research. . . ."

— Laura Savu , Symploke

"The chapters . . . all share something of the same spirit. It is the spirit, one might say, of someone who has just been dunked on the head and is now wobblingly trying to figure where they are, but I do not mean this as a criticism. It is one of the book's greatest strengths to point out that this is not a feeling limited to left-leaning academics, but that, in fact, most people on earth have been feeling this way recently. This is one of neoliberalims's most significant, and least discussed, effects, and it is one that (if casino capitalism with its 'mathematics of fear' really does become institutionalized) threatens to become permanent." — David Graeber , American Anthropologist

"The collection as a whole is an interesting set of snapshots of the global scene with something for everyone. . . ." — Rohan Bastin, The Australian Journal of Anthropology

“In an extrarodinary introduction the editors of this book set out to interrogate the features of capitalism at the millennium, not only its technical but also its messianic and magical manifestations. This makes for an unusual treatment of familiar subjects. . . . [M]ust reading for anyone concerned with transnational processes.” — Saskia Sassen, author of The Global City

“The savvy success of ‘postmodernism,’ that cynical sign of the fin de siecle, has prevented us from re-imagining the present and mapping the future. Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism steps into the breach and opens up a new chapter in our understanding of a world of contradictory forces and ambivalent affiliations. When the rapid expansion of free markets sends sovereign states into free fall, and the value of citizenship is measured in the currency of consumption, the time is ripe for a radical rethinking of political passion in the public interest. In a fine double act the Comaroffs, and their gifted contributors, provide us with brilliant ethnographic and ethical accounts of a world-system whose emergent structures are both older and newer than the globalizing jargon of our times.” — Homi K. Bhabha, University of Chicago


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jean Comaroff is Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.

John L. Comaroff is Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Anthropology, also at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Millennial Capitalism: First Thoughts on a Second Coming / John L. Comaroff and Jean Comaroff

Millennial Transitions / Irene Stengs, Hylton White, Caitrin Lynch, and Jeffrey A. Zimmermann

Towards a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations on Capitalism’s Nature / Fernando Coronil

Lived Effects of the Contemporary Economy: Globalization, Inequality, and Consumer Society / Michael Storper

The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Maquiladoreas / Melissa W. Wright

Freeway to China (Version 2, for Liverpool) / Allan Sekula

Capitalism and Autochthony: The Seesaw of Mobility and Belonging / Peter Geschiere and Francis Myamnjoh

Millennial Coal Face / Luiz Paulo Lima, Scott Bradwell, and Seamus Walsh

Modernity’s Media and the End of Mediumship? On the Aesthetic Economy of Transparency in Thailand / Rosalind C. Morris

Living at the Edge: Religion, Capitalism, and the End of the Nation-State in Taiwan / Robert P. Weller

Millenniums Past, Cuba’s Future? / Paul Ryer

Consuming Geist: Popontology and the Spirit of Capital in Indigenous Australia / Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Cosmopolitanism and the Banality of Geographical Evils / David Harvey


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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2715-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2704-2
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