Accumulation and Subjectivity

Rethinking Marx in Latin America

Edited by Karen Benezra

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies, Intellectual History
Hardcover : 9781438487571, 344 pages, March 2022
Paperback : 9781438487564, 344 pages, September 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Rethinking Marx in Latin America
Karen Benezra

Part I: Property and History

1. On Subsumption as Form and the Use of Asynchronies
Massimiliano Tomba

2. "I am he": A History of Dispossession's Not-Yet-Present in Colonial Yucatán
David Kazanjian

3. Latin American Marxism: History and Accumulation
Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott

4. Accumulation as Total Conversion
Karen Benezra

Part II: Class and Totality

5. José Aricó and the Concept of Socioeconomic Formation
Marcelo Starcenbaum

6. An Irresolvable Tension: The Part or the Whole? The Effects of the "Crisis of Marxism" in the Work of René Zavaleta Mercado
Jaime Ortega Reyna

7. Class and Accumulation
Pablo Pérez Wilson

Part III: Sovereignty and Debt

8. The "Insurgent Subject" versus Accumulation by Dispossession in Álvaro García Linera and Jorge Sanjinés
Irina Alexandra Feldman

9. Debt, Violence, and Subjectivity
Alessandro Fornazzari

10. Psychotic Violence: Crime and Consumption in the Apocalyptic Phase of Capitalism
Horacio Legrás

11. Postmigrancy: Borders, Primitive Accumulation, and Labor at the U.S./Mexico Border
Abraham Acosta

Part IV: The Subject and Nature

12. Marx's Theory of the Subject
Bruno Bosteels

13. The Impasses of Environmentalism: Subjectivity and Accumulation in the World-Ecology Project
Orlando Bentancor

14. "Non-Capital" and the Torsion of the Subject
Gavin Walker


Reconsiders key concepts in Marxist thought by examining the relationship between accumulation and subjectivity in Latin American narrative, film, and social and political theory.


Since the 1970s, sociocultural analysis in Latin American studies has been marked by a turn away from problems of political economy. Accumulation and Subjectivity challenges this turn while reconceptualizing the relationship between political economy and the life of the subject. The fourteen essays in this volume show that, in order to understand the dynamics governing the extraction of wealth under contemporary capitalism, we also need to consider the collective subjects implied in this operation at an institutional, juridical, moral, and psychic level. More than merely setting the scene for social and political struggle, Accumulation and Subjectivity reveals Latin America to be a cauldron for thought for a critique of political economy and radical political change beyond its borders. Combining reflections on political philosophy, intellectual history, narrative, law, and film from the colonial period to the present, it provides a new conceptual vocabulary rooted in the material specificity of the region and, for this very reason, potentially translatable to other historical contexts. This collection will be of interest to scholars of Marxism, Latin American literary and cultural studies, and the intellectual history of the left.

Karen Benezra is Assistant Professor in the Institute for Philosophy and Sciences of Art, at Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany. She is the author of Dematerialization: Art and Design in Latin America.


"This unique book productively works through a double bind central to both Latin American studies and Marxism: the struggle between structure (accumulation) and agency (subjectivity). The volume consistently attends to and elaborates on such key contexts as socioeconomic formation, formal subsumption, and primitive accumulation. It is rare to find an edited collection of essays that address the same problems from such richly diverse perspectives." — Emilio Sauri, coeditor of Literature and the Global Contemporary

"This is a splendid volume, the likes of which (to my knowledge) have yet to be published in English. It offers a unique, capacious reading in Latin American culture, politics, and intellectual history by—retooling a phrase from the introduction— rediscovering Marx and Marxist theory from Latin America. Adopting a capacious and overlapping approach, this book will enrich the bibliographies of scholars across a range of fields in the humanities and social sciences." — Samuel Steinberg, author of Photopoetics at Tlatelolco: Afterimages of Mexico, 1968