Samir Amin: Dependency, Development, and the Making of the Global South
Samir Amin was one of the most important and innovative Marxist economists of the 20th century. Building on French and Latin American heterodox thought and maturing in the cradle of the social and national revolutions of the 20th century (from China to Egypt, Ghana, and Cuba), Amin’s life experience led him to re-think Marxism from and for the periphery. His contributions were dazzling, from dismantling orthodox theories of development to building up his own, non-Western-centric, theory of development; from deconstructing the biases of European Marxism to proposing a re-reading of historical materialism that could account for the past, understand the present, and chart the way towards a better future. Amin’s concerns remain paramount in our so-called globalized world. How can we understand the divergence between the wealthier (or colonizing) and poorer (or colonized) world? How did this divergence come to be? And how can it be redressed?
To address these questions, this course focuses on Amin’s magnum opus: Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism. There, Amin summarized his approach to understanding the history of the world; his analysis of the formation of dependency; his conceptualizations of underdevelopment and “super-exploitation”; and his historical-interpretive sketches of the contemporary social systems in the periphery. Reading Amin, we will ask: Which social logics keep poor countries poor and rich countries rich? What dynamics link poor and rich, making them two sides of one world-historical coin? How can we understand notions of sovereignty and interdependence in a post-colonial world? What is the shape of imperialism today?
Course ScheduleSunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
November 19 — December 17, 2023
4 sessions over 5 weeks
Class will not meet Sunday, November 26th.