A conference co-sponsored by the International Institute of Social History, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Houston.
This conference aims for a historically grounded rethinking of the concept of “primitive” or “original” accumulation of capital. With this phrase, Karl Marx tried to capture the dual process by which wealth was accumulated in the hands of capitalists on the one hand, and labor power was commodified and made available for exploitation on the other. Recalling the often neglected violence of the centuries-long process that transformed peasant producers into industrial workers, Marx famously raged that its history was “written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.” More than 150 years later, the same processes he described have continued to unfold all over the world, including in ostensibly socialist countries like the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and many postcolonial states throughout the global south. Given the current wave of interest in the role of violence and forced labor in the history of the global economy, we think the time has come to critically re-examine these processes, focusing in particular on the ways in which primitive accumulation has been a critical feature of economic development on a world scale.
Attendance and registration
The two Keynote lectures on Friday evening 10 May and Saturday morning 11 May will be open to the public. During the conference, there will be room for a limited number of visitors. If you want to attend, please send an e-mail containing your name, affiliation, and days you want to attend to firstname.lastname@example.org by 2 April 2019 at the latest. Attendance is free of charge, but visitors will be asked a contribution in the cost of participating in conference lunches and dinners.