Sunday 20 November 2011
Acclaimed historian and insurgent scholar Jairus Banaji’s 2010 book Theory as history wins the 2011 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize
see also: www.deutscherprize.org.uk/
The essays collected here straddle four decades of work in both historiography and Marxist theory, combining source-based historical work in a wide range of languages with sophisticated discussion of Marx’s categories. Key themes include the distinctions that are crucial to restoring complexity to the Marxist notion of a ’mode of production’; the emergence of medieval relations of production; the origins of capitalism; the dichotomy between free and unfree labour; and essays in agrarian history that range widely from Byzantine Egypt to 19th-century colonialism. The essays demonstrate the importance of reintegrating theory with history and of bringing history back into historical materialism. An introductory chapter ties the collection together and shows how historical materialists can develop an alternative to Marx’s ’Asiatic mode of production’.