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Ecology and the accumulation of capital: thinking capitalism through the web of life
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (Umeå Studies in Science, Technology, and Environments)
2011 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Capitalism as world-ecology is an effort to move from the “environmental history of” capitalism, or modernity, or the world market, to capitalism AS environmental history. Financial crises, for instance, are not social or economic crises that make their footprint on the rest of nature; they are crises of a key moment of capitalism’s symbolic and material ordering of the relation between humans and the rest of nature. This dialectical alternative views the great movements of modern world history – industrial and agricultural revolutions, successive new imperialisms, the development of the world market – as socio-ecological projects and processes, aimed at reconfiguring nature-society relations. ‘Nature,’ no longer a passive substance upon which humanity leaves its footprint, becomes an active bundle of relations, formed and re-formed through the historically- and geographically-specific movements of humans, with the rest of nature. This entails more than a catalogue of capitalism’s biophysical depredations. It calls for new synthesis that locates the accumulation of capital, the production of nature, and pursuit of power in a singular and differentiated whole. This perspective begins from the premise that capitalism does not act upon nature so much as develop through nature-society relations. Capitalism does not have an ecological regime; it is an ecological regime.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
capitalism as world-ecology, historical geography, economic history, commodity frontier, productivity and plunder, world-systems analysis
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History; Social and Economic Geography; Systems Analysis; Sociology; History
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43568OAI: diva2:414581
Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington, 12/4-16-4, 2011
Available from: 2011-05-04 Created: 2011-05-04 Last updated: 2011-10-04Bibliographically approved

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Moore, Jason W.
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Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies
Economic History

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