Neoliberal industrialization, the rural periphery, and uneven development in India

Project Summary:

Geographically uneven development (GUD) is an enduring problem worldwide. Its urgency is more apparent in the context of the recent phase of industrialization occurring in the South since the onset of the neoliberal form of capitalism. This industrialization, which takes different forms, including transplantation of large-scale industry into rural areas, creating newly industrialized cities, is occurring in many parts of India, in which state’s earlier role in promoting equality between areas (and groups/classes) is relatively diminished since 1991. This new context raises a specific question: how does this pattern of industrialization cause uneven development between newly created urban areas and rural areas, and within the rural periphery? This multi-year project involves much theoretical work, which will guide the empirical component of the project. It will produce a thoroughgoing, rigorous critique of some of the existing views on uneven development and will seek to produce an alternative framework to understand it. The much-neglected perspective of uneven and combined development will shape the thinking about GUD. The project will theorize uneven development in terms of a) the interplay between the ruralisation of capital and what is known as the urbanization of capital, and the attendant issue of the uneven transition to real subsumption of labour, influenced by class struggle, and b) the relation of this interplay to the political power of different social classes as well as neoliberal state policies at sub-national scales. Among other things, the project will theorize, and shed empirical light on, some of the larger issues surrounding uneven development both as an explanan and as an explanandum: the theoretical and empirical link between capitalist industrialization and the place-specific successes/failures of capital and the state to acquire land and use it; geographical character of class relations, including the dialectics of ruralization and urbanization of capital, and of various forms of subsumption of labour under capital; and long-term objective and subjective obstacles to class-politics, including the processes shaping class-based mobilization across the rural-urban divide against capitalism and its state. In short: uneven development will be deployed as a window through which to look at the dynamics of capitalist class relation, in terms of its economic and political dimension, and of anti-capitalist politics.

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Principal investigator

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Professors Deepak Mishra, Mohanakumar S., and R. B. Singh, all from India

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(e.g type 1000 for 1,000)