The Virtue of Having Nothing to Say

“The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.” (Gilles Deleuze)
(Open access: Deleuze, Gilles. 1995. Negotiations. Columbia University Press. P. 129)

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Great academic opportunities: 23 calls for papers, 5 job openings, 2 postdocs, PhD course, and summer school

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great and interesting academic opportunities: call for papers20 calls for papers for conferences and workshops, 5 job openings, 3 calls for contributions to journals’ special issues, 2 postdoc positions, PhD course, and summer school, — in various areas of economic sociology and political economy, with July 30 – August 21 deadlines. Several opportunities are partially or fully funded.
Share this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: “Spectrum of Communism” symposium, Central European University (Budapest, Hungary), November 16-17, 2017. No registration fee. DL: July 30

CfP: “Taking Issues In/With Cultural Political Economy: Neoliberalism, Democracy and Crises“, the Third International Cultural Political Economy conference and associated workshop for PhD students, Lancaster University (UK), 6-8 September 2017. DL: July 31

> CfP: “New global challenges of European regulation, institutions and policies“, the 3rd The Role of State in Varieties of Capitalism conference, Central European University (Budapest, Hungary), 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2017. DL: July 31 

> CfP: “Workplace Redesign: Spaces of Work and the Transformation of Industrial Modernity in Central Europe, 1848-1945” workshop, Masaryk Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague, 1-2 December 2017. Accommodation and travel costs will be covered for workshop participants. DL: July 31

> CfP: “Economics, Politics and Administration” international symposium, Dicle University (Diyarbakır, Turkey), 12-14 October 2017. DL: July 31

> CfP: “Intersections of finance and society” conference, City University London (UK), 2-3 November 2017. DL: August 1

> CfP: “Debt in History” conference,  University of Toronto Scarborough (Canada), 18-19 May 2018. DL: August 1

CfP: “Globalization and the Environment” workshop, Asian Development Bank Institute (Tokyo, Japan), 26-27 September 2017. The costs of flight and hotel will be covered, plus a small payment for one presenter of every accepted paper. DL: August 1

CfP: “Devolution and Decentralisation of Social Security in Europe: Dismantling the Welfare State or a Democratic Promise for the Future?“, the European Institute of Social Security and University of Groningen conference, Protestantse Diaconie (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 2829September 2017. DL: August 1

> CfP: “Capital and the revolt against capitalism“, Historical Materialism Sydney Conference, University of Sydney (Australia), 7-8 December, 2017. DL: August 4 

> CfP: 3rd Annual Meeting of the Danish Society for Economic and Social History, Copenhagen Business School, September 28-29, 2017. DL: August 7

> CfP: “The New Subjectivities of Global Capitalism: Spirituality, Personal Development and the World of Work” international conference,  Sociology Department of Babes-Bolyai University, (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), 18–20 September, 2017. No registration fee; accommodations might be provided. DL: August 7 

CfP: “Society, Culture, and Sustainable Development in Ibero-America“, the 3rd Ibero-American Socioeconomics Meeting co-organized by SASE, Cartagena de Indias (Colombia). DL: August 15

> CfP: “Solidarities in Europe” workshop at University of Bern (Switzerland), 24-25 November, 2017. Travel costs within Europe and the accommodation cost of one overnight stay will be covered. DL: August 15

> CfP: “What to make of highly unrealistic models?” workshop, University of Helsinki (Finland), 12-13 October 2017. DL: August 15 

CfP: “Global Capitalism in the Americas“, The 4th Biennial Conference of the Network for the Critical Study of Global Capitalism, Universidad de La Habana (Havana, Cuba), November 1-3, 2017. DL: August 15

> CfP: “Ethnographies of Class in Central and Eastern Europe” International Conference, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (Bucharest, Romania), 28-29 September 2017. DL: August 15

> CfP: “Developing an Agenda for Fintech Research in Emerging Economies” workshop organized by Loughborough University and University of Malay, to be held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 31 October – 2 November, 2017 All travel and accommodation expenses will be covered. DL: August 20

> CfP: “Development of professions: Observed with Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory” conference, International University Centre (Dubrovnik, Croatia), 20-22 September 2017. DL: August 20

> CfP: “Colonial debts, extractive nostalgias, imperial insolvencies — Reimagining financialization” workshop, Goldsmiths University of London, September 22- 23, 2017. DL: August 21

Calls for papers for special issues:

> CfP: “Exploring the Emergence of Moderate Feminism(s) in Contemporary Organizations”, Gender, Work & Organization special issue. DL for full papers: August 21

> CfP: “Housing-Affordability“, Regional Science and Urban Economics special issue, DL for full papers: November 1 

> CfP: “Connecting the Dots between Management and Governance: A Comparative Corporate Governance Mechanism“, International Journal of Comparative Management special issue, DL for full papers January 20, 2018

PhD courses and Summer Schools:

> CfA: Co-op Governance School for Emerging Researchers, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Canada), 2-5 October 2017. The School is designed for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students interested in social economy organizations. Applicants may be eligible for a stipend to offset travel costs. DL: August 13

> CfA: “Markets and Governance in a Post-Secular Society” PhD course, Copenhagen Business School, September 5-7, 2017. Recommended! DL: August 14 

Job opportunities

Fellow in Anthropology (full-time, fixed term), London School of Economics and Political Science. DL: July 31 

> Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Korean and East Asian Political Economy (permanent, full-time), King’s College London. DL: August 2 

> Lecture in Political Economy (Fixed term, full time), Goldsmiths University of London. DL: August 6

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in 20th-Century British Social and Economic History (permanent, full-time), Newcastle University (UK). DL: August 10

Chair in Regulatory Practice (permanent, full-time), Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). DL: August 11

Postdoctoral position:

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Political Economy, The Institute of Political Science at the University of Münster (Germany). DL: August 8

Postdoctoral fellow in Economic History (one or more three-year position/s), The department of Economic History , Lund University (Sweden). DL: August 20

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BITS & BRIEFS: Piketty and fellow economists // Why poverty clusters in city’s east // Tax Policy created the 1% // Civil rights and unionism // Consumption, debt, and personal well-being

>  Why Are Economists Giving Piketty the Cold Shoulder? Piketty questioned the very value of having a credentialed economics elite empowered to make policy in the name of the public interest but not answerable to public opinion — by Marshall Steinbaum

In so many cities, historically and currently,  poor districts surprisingly tend to cluster in the east. A study suggests a surprising reason: it’s about air pollution

The political history of capital gains tax in the US: boosting the wealthy and widening the racial inequality — by Julia Ott

> The Decline of Labor, the Increase of Inequality. In the wake of the civil rights movement and the second wave feminism of the 1960s, an effort started to integrate the race and gender struggles for equal rights with the ethos of trade unionism, but the timing was terrible especially for African-American women — by Rich Yeselson

Buying Alone: the rise in consumption and personal debt is due to an erosion of social and environmental resources, and a fall in people’s well-being — by  Stefano Bartolini, Luigi Bonatti and Francesco Sarracino

buy more stuff.jpg

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Pierre Bourdieu: Economism is a form of ethnocentrism

pierre bourdieuEconomic Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu is very rich and brilliantly enlightening, as well as non-univocal, and theoretically and intellectually multifaceted.
Reflecting on his great contribution to the field, which he preferred to call “Economic Anthropology”, his classic The Logic of Practice (1990; open access below) has recently sprung to my mind. In this book Bourdieu explores questions such as the interplay between structure and practice (a phenomenon Bourdieu describes as habitus), the manipulation of time, varieties of symbolic capital, and modes of domination, social categories of classification,  ritualized exchanges, and more.
In the following excerpt from The Logic of Practice, Bourdieu elaborates — in his unique way of writing — the concept of Economism, its logics and practices. As the great theorist, Bourdieu discusses the topic paving his own challenging trajectories and terminology. 

The ‘rational actor’ theory, which seeks the ‘origin’ of acts, strictly economic or not, in an ‘intention’ of  ‘consciousness’, is often associated with a narrow conception of the ‘rationality’ of practices, an economism which regards as rational (or, which amounts to the same thing in this logic, as economic) those practices that are consciously oriented by the pursuit of maximum (economic) profit at minimum (economic) costFinalist economism explains practices by relating them directly and exclusively to economic interests, treated as consciously posited ends; mechanistic economism relates them no less directly and exclusively to economic interests, defined just as narrowly but treated as causes. Both are unaware that practices can have other principles than mechanical causes or conscious ends and can obey an economic logic without obeying narrowly economic interests. There is an economy of practices, a reason immanent in practices, whose ‘origin’ lies neither in the ‘decisions’ of reason understood as rational calculation nor in the determinations of mechanisms external to and superior to the agents. Being constitutive of the structure of rational practice, that is, the practice most appropriate to achieve the objectives inscribed in the logic of a particular field at the lowest cost, this economy can be defined in relation to all kinds of functions, one of which, among others, is the maximization of monetary profit, the only one recognized by economism. In other words, if one fails to recognize any form of action other than rational action or mechanical reaction, it is impossible to understand the logic of all the actions that are reasonable without being the product of a reasoned design, still less of rational calculation; informed by a kind of objective finality without being consciously organized in relation to an explicitly constituted end; intelligible and coherent without springing from an intention of coherence and a deliberate decision; adjusted to the future without being the product of a project or a plan. And, if one fails to see that the economy described by economic theory is a particular case of a whole universe of economies, that is, of fields of struggle differing both in the stakes and scarcities that are generated within them and in the forms of capital deployed in them, it is impossible to account for the specific forms, contents and leverage points thus imposed on the pursuit of maximum specific profits and on the very general optimizing strategies (of which economic strategies in the narrow sense are one form among others). (p. 50-51)
Economism is a form of ethnocentrism. Treating pre-capitalist economies, in Marx’s phrase, ‘as the Fathers of the Church treated the religions which preceded Christianity’, it applies to them categories, methods (economic accountancy, for example) or concepts (such as the notions of interest, investment or capital) which are the historical product of capitalism and which induce a radical transformation of their object, similar to the historical transformation from which they arose. Economism recognizes no other form of interest than that which capitalism has produced, through a kind of real operation of abstraction, by setting up a universe of relations between man and man based, as Marx says, on ‘callous cash payment’ and more generally by favouring the creation of relatively autonomous fields, capable of establishing their own axiomatics (through the fundamental tautology ‘business is business’, on which ‘the economy’ is based). It can therefore find no place in its analyses, still less in its calculations, for any form of ‘non-economic’ interest. It is as if economic calculation had been able to appropriate the territory objectively assigned to the remorseless logic of what Marx calls ‘naked self-interest’, only by relinquishing an island of the ‘sacred’, miraculously spared by the ‘icy waters of egoistic calculation’, the refuge of what has no price because it has too much or too little. But, above all, it can make nothing of universes that have not performed such a dissociation and so have, as it were, an economy in itself and not for itself. Thus, any partial or total objectification of the archaic economy that does not include a theory of the subjective relation of misrecognition which agents adapted to this economy maintain with its ‘objective’ (that is, objectivist) truth, succumbs to the most subtle and most irreproachable form of ethnocentrism. […]
By reducing this economy to its ‘objective’ reality, economism annihilates the specificity located precisely in the socially maintained discrepancy between the ‘objective’ reality and the social representation of production and exchange. It is no accident that the vocabulary of the archaic economy is entirely made up of double-sided notions that are condemned to disintegrate in the very history of the economy, because, owing to their duality, the social relations that they designate represent unstable structures which inevitably split in two as soon as the social mechanisms sustaining them are weakened.” (p. 112-3)

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Stanford University Press. (open access)

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Academic conferences — a true story ;-)


😉

See more memories of these unique intellectual fetes here and here 🙂  

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Yes We Got Money

That money talks, I’ll not deny,
I heard it once: It said, ‘Goodbye’.

(Richard Armour)

Yes We Got Money

“Yes We Got Money” by Klaus Langer


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BITS & BRIEFS: NY Fiscal Crisis and austerity politics // Capitalism v. Nature // Employer is more powerful than a state // On derivatives with Randy Martin // Currency without Central Bank

This time — especially worth reading (and sharing) articles:

How bankers and technocrats used the 1975 New York Fiscal Crisis to permanently reshape the city: the early and exemplary case of imposing neoliberal austerity — an interview with Kim Phillips-Fein, an author of Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis And The Rise Of Austerity Politics

> Capitalism is a way of organizing nature… [It looks for] new parts of nature that have not been commodified or brought into the cash nexus” — an interview with Jason W. Moore, an author of Capitalism in the Web of Life 

How did employers gain power over nowadays workers’ lives that the government itself doesn’t hold? Miya Tokumitsu’s insightful reflection on James Livingston’s No More Work and Elizabeth Anderson’s Private Government

Randy Martin: “Derivatives emerge from the space between the measurable and the immeasurable”. McKenzie Wark analyzes derivatives and their logics through Martin’s intellectual contribution

The odd case of orphaned currency: Since 1991 Somali shillings are in circulation without Central Bank — by J.P. Koning

capitalism

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Leveling mountains to define Corporate Liability

In the seminal 1909 case, New York Central R. Co. v. United States, 212 U.S. 481-499, the railroad argued that as a corporation it could not be held criminally liable for the unlawful acts (such as paying prohibited rebates to another company) of its managers. The US Supreme Court rejected this argument and discarded the previously common (in those years of The Robber Barons) viewpoint that a company cannot commit felony in its corporate capacity. Eventually, the Court held the railroad criminally responsible, quoting an incisive passage from a contemporary treatise:
If, for example, the invisible, intangible essence or air, which we term a corporation, can level mountains, fill up valleys, lay down iron tracks, and run railroad cars on them, it can intend to do it, and can act therein as well viciously as virtuously.” (p. 491)

The Sharp Method by J.A. Wales

“The Sharp Method” by J.A. Wales, 1990

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Great academic opportunities: 19 calls for papers, 3 PhD scholarships, 2 postdocs, 2 summer schools, a job opening, and a prize for a debut woman writer

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great and interesting academic opportunities: call for papers13 calls for papers for conferences and workshops, 6 calls for contributions to journals’ special issues, 3 doctoral scholarships,  2 calls for summer schools, 2 postdoc positions, a job opening, and a prize for a debut woman writer — in various areas of economic sociology and political economy. Several opportunities are partially funded.
Share this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

CfP: “Empire, Capital and Transnational Resistance” conference, University Brighton (UK), 13-15 September, 2017. DL: June 30

> CfP: “Markets, Metrics and Calculative Practice in Public Services” interdisciplinary workshop, University of Edinburgh (UK), 2-3 November 2017. There is a limited number of fee waiver for accepted PhD students. DL: June 30   

> CfP: “The making and circulation of Nordic models, ideas and images” workshop, he Norwegian University Centre in Paris, October 4-6, 2017. DL: June 30.

> CfP: “Challenges for Diverse Societies“, The 4th Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences interdisciplinary doctoral conference, Bamberg University (Germany), 20 – 21 September 2017.  Travel grants available. There are sessions on Labour Markets, Social Mobility, Regional Inequalities, Private Education, and more. DL: June 30 

> CfP: “Working Class Culture“, a research area at the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association annual conference, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA), 8-11 November, 2017. DL: June 30

> CfP: “Sustainability Governance“, Münster Junior Researchers Colloquium, Institut für Politikwissenschaften (Münster, Germany), 12 July 2017. No participation fee. Young scholars will also benefit from a workshop on methodological choices. DL: June 30

CfP: “Reshaping Work” conference, University of Amsterdam, October 19-20, 2017. DL: July 1

CfP: “Economic transformation in Cyprus and the Levant, 1850-1939” conference,  Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation (Nicosia, Cyprus), 3-5 November, 2017. DL: July 1

> CfP: “Policy making in hard times: Deregulation, Dismantling, and Compensation” workshop, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (Spain), 15-17 November 2017. There is a number of grants for graduate students & early-career scholars from South-Europe, and PhD students & PostDocs from Germany. DL: July 15 

> The 5th Economic Sociology Conference, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business (Washington, DC, USA). DL: July 15 

> CfP: “Reassessment and perspectives of labour policies” international conference, University Roma Tre (Italy), 14-15 December, 2017. Extended DL: July 15 

> CfP: “The Case for Solidarity: Multi-Faith Perspectives on Basic Income” conference, Dominican Institute of Toronto (Canada), 20 October 2017. DL: July 15

> CfP and CfA: “Structural Transformation in Africa“, Review of African Political Economy’s three workshops for scholars and activists in Ghana (November 2017), Tanzania (April 2018) and South Africa (September 2018). 

Calls for papers for special issues:

> CfP: “Peak neoliberalism? Revisiting and rethinking the concept of neoliberalism“, a special issue of Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization. DL: June 30

> CfP: “Facing and Coping with Vulnerability“, a special issue of Research in Economic Anthropology. DL: July 4 

> CfP: “Contesting Markets: How Organizations and Social Movements Shape the Political Economy“, a special issue of Socio-Economic Review. DL: September 1 

CfP: “The Poverty of Academia: Exploring the (Intersectional) Realities of Working Class Academics“, a special issue of Journal of Working Class Studies. DL: September 1

> CfP: “From the mixed embeddedness approach to what? Migrant entrepreneurship at a glance“, a special issue of Sociologica – Italian Journal of Sociology (in English). DL: September 1

> CfP: “Exploitation“, a special issue of The Review of Social Economy exploring the conceptual, political and economic aspects of exploitation. DL: December 31

Summer Schools:

> CfA: “Urban Poverty: The Praxis of Planning in Unequal Cities“, Sapienza Summer School, Rome (Italy), 12-15 September 2017. DL: June 30

> CfA: A Training Course in Economic and Social History for postgraduate students, University of Manchester, 29 November – 2 December 2017. DL: July 17 

Postdoctoral positions:

> Postdoc position in the research project “Combatting Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators” at University of Bamberg. DL: July 7

3 Postdoc Fellowships on “Conviviality in Unequal Societies: Perspectives from Latin America” at Merian Centre in São Paulo (Brazil). DL: July 9

Doctoral scholarships:

> The Economic History Society’s bursaries for PhD students in economic and/or social history, residing in UK colleges and universities. DL: July 1

> PhD position in the research project “Combatting Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators” at University of Bamberg. DL: July 7

2 PhD Candidates in Business and Human Rights at the University of New South Wales, (Sydney, Australia). DL: July 21

Prize:

> Virago and New Statesman women’s prize for politics & economics. The aim with this award is to find new and exciting women’s voices in the field of politics and economics: areas (particularly in economics) where female analysts are woefully under-represented in the media and nonfiction. This prize awards a debut woman writer £500 and a contract for a 20,000 word essay to be published as a Virago ebook, with an option to contract for a full-length book. DL: July 31

Job opportunity:

Professorship in Economic and Social History with a special research focus on World Economy in the 19th and 20th Century, University of Vienna. DL: June 30

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India, Modernity and the Great Divergence – Why the Industrial Revolution and Modern Economic Growth first occurred in England

by Kaveh Yazdani

How come the world’s eight wealthiest men are as rich as half the planet’s population? Why do the vast bulk of the super-rich come from the West despite the rise of Chinese and Indian capital? And why are most economically prosperous regions of the world still disproportionately located in the West?
The fascinating riddle of why Europeans became the masters of the world and ideas of Europe’s supposed superiority vis-à-vis the rest of the globe already haunted the minds of eminent scholars such as Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Max Weber. But partly as a result of China’s and India’s economic upsurge and since the seminal contributions by Jared Diamond, David Landes, André Gunder Frank and Kenneth Pomeranz there has been an increased interest in issues of economic development and underdevelopment as well as a boom in world comparative studies on the possible historical roots of modern economic growth and Western Europe’s global supremacy in the 19th century. There are few controversies in current history writing and historical sociology that have been as hotly discussed as the rise of the West and so-called Great Divergence debates. Needless to mention, the period between the 16th and 18th century witnessed major historical watersheds. The reasons for these key junctures help us to better understand the structure of our contemporary world.
A great amount of studies that have addressed the important question of Western Europe’s historical ascent to world domination adhere to the Eurocentric schools of thought. Yet, during the past two decades, especially adherents of the ‘California School’ and a number of British scholars have increasingly engaged in the arduous work of understanding and analyzing the ‘West and the rest’ from a non-Eurocentric and global perspective. While Eurocentrists mostly emphasize internal processes, non-Eurocentrists bring to attention the importance of external factors, contingencies and the way in which the connected histories of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas contributed to Western socio-economic development. The causes of the Great Divergence lie at the heart of the debate. The lively discussion is mostly concerned with the reasons behind the Industrial Revolution and why it took off in England and not in other European core areas or advanced regions of China. Few historians and social scientists have examined Mughal and post-Mughal India relative to the rise of the West and the journey towards modernity from a particularly ‘Indian perspective’. Although there are a number of articles that deal with this important macro-historical puzzle, there are only few monographs that have examined South Asia in detail (see e.g. Parthasarathi 2011; Studer 2015). This is rather surprising as India was the textile workshop of the world and one of the most vibrant economic regions of the 17th and 18th century along with the Chinese Ming and Qing Empires.
India, Modernity and the Great DivergenceTo fill this gap, I have extensively studied India’s journey towards modernity in my India, Modernity and the Great Divergence: Mysore and Gujarat (17th to 19th C.), published by Brill earlier this year (2017). For the main part, I examined and analyzed the socio-economic, techno-scientific, military, political and institutional developments of the subcontinent. The focus is on two of the historically most dynamic regions of South Asia: Mysore (Southern India) under the Muslim rule of Haidar ‘Ali and Tipu Sultan during the second half of the 18th century and Gujarat (North-Western India) between the 17th and early 19th centuries. Primary sources from archives in India, England, France and Germany, as well as the latest secondary sources in English, French, German and Persian have been consulted for this purpose.
In order to explain phenomena such as the reasons behind the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the West, most historians and sociologists from both the Eurocentric and non-Eurocentric spectrum have put forward rather mono-causal explanations, merely focusing on a few factors that potentially triggered Western Europe’s take-off. Holistic explanations remain rare. Therefore in my study, I argue that a totalizing approach is more capable of shedding light on the complexity of the matter. What caused the Great Divergence was a combination of factors, a global dialectical conjuncture based on a concatenation of internal, external, long-term, short-term, continuous and contingent factors. Hence, the level of market integration, wages, living standards and the causes of techno-scientific innovations in comparative perspective, global contexts (e.g. competition in the world market), world-wide exchange and global entanglements (e.g. diffusion of knowledge), politics, institutions and the role of the state, the level of production and manufacture, the emergence of capitalist social relations, coercion, force, violence, warfare, culture and the role of chance and accident need to be incorporated and combined into an overarching narrative to do justice to the intricacies at hand. In this spirit, my survey attempts to bridge the gap between Eurocentrics and reverse-Orientalists and, thus, suggest a different reading and understanding of the ‘West and the rest’ question.
The upshot of this study is that Gujarat’s and Mysore’s level of capitalist development, the depth of secular philosophical discussion, the level of advancement of science, secular education, circulation of knowledge, secularization of society, institutional efficiency, property rights, the nascent bourgeois class consciousness, inter-communal and proto-national identity formations seem to have been less developed than in advanced parts of 17th and 18th century Western Europe, especially England, France and the Dutch Republic and, except for the missing rise of the North-East Asian bourgeoisie, also less vigorous than in advanced parts of China and Japan. Furthermore, contingent geo-climatic circumstances were probably more apt in Western Europe, implying lesser degrees of South Asian transport capacities (during the wet season) and market integration, even though its effects should not be exaggerated. More or less like many European cities, however, urban centers of Mughal and post-Mughal India (e.g. Delhi, Lucknow, Surat) witnessed the gradual emergence of a ‘public sphere’. Moreover, the two regions at hand possessed a substantial level of agricultural growth, living standards, transport (during the dry season) and infrastructure, military capabilities in terms of ground forces (in the case of Mysore), commercial and manufacturing capacities and social mobility of merchants (in the case of Gujarat) that – in spite of less dynamism, inventions and innovations – did not look unfavorable when compared to European core areas.
By and large, I hold that parts of late 16th to late 18th century Mughal India and its successor states were in a transitory phase. I intend to apply a non-teleological notion of transition that allows me to propose a middle ground and leave room for different possible trajectories and scenarios that could have unfolded in the absence of the British Raj. In transition periods, generally no particular mode of production is dominant, but at earlier or later stages of development, one of them might prevail. Pre-capitalist modes of production could either be preserved in spite of increasing commercial capitalist advancements and fall back to feudal or other pre-capitalist forms or capitalist potentialities could grow and lead to industrial capitalism, depending on the given socio-economic context. To this effect, 16th to 18th century India possessed both potentialities as well as obstacles for an industrial breakthrough. At the same time, as David Washbrook points out, it is far less clear why India should have failed to make use of industrial technologies once they had been invented elsewhere and become available. While India never might have become a unified nation state without British rule, the socio-economic and techno-scientific structure of South Asia’s most advanced regions were sophisticated enough to adopt foreign expertise, science and technology as the period under scrutiny has demonstrated.
In short, neither the Eurocentric emphasis on irreconcilable differences between the East and West nor the reverse-Orientalist assumptions of a preponderant congruence of the two poles or a mere Eastern pre-eminence, do justice to the complex historical trajectories of Asia and Europe.
______________
* Kaveh Yazdani received his PhD degree in social sciences at the University of Osnabrück in 2014. He was granted the Prince Dr Sabbar Farman-Farmaian fellowship at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam in 2015 and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (kaveh.yazdani@wits.ac.za)

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