Reading China‘s 1930s Political Economy with Roberto Schwarz

online via zoom or at Humboldt University Berlin, Invalidenstr. 118
Fri 12 July 2024 14:15 - 15:45 (CET)

What is enabled by reading problems in political economy of early-20th century China through Roberto Schwarz' concept of "misplacement" or "misplaced ideas"? My ongoing work on Wang Yanan, whose writings in the 1930s-1950s were central to a certain (non-Communist) Marxist specification of political economics in China, will engage this question as a theoretical-historical problematic. Wang's imminent critique of "capitalism in China/ Chinese capitalism" proceeded by problematizing the rampant reifications of the categories of capitalism in academic economics and social scientific work in China in the 1930s and 1940s. Reading Wang's critique through and with Schwarz can benefit from theoretical engagements with the latter's concerns over colonized knowledges, production of incommensurate temporalities through narrativity, and the ideological embodiments of capital in the commodity form of labor. As much an historical-theoretical excavation, this essay will also function as a critique of the present.

Rebecca E. Karl teaches history at New York University-NY. Her most recent book is China's Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History (Verso 2020) and she is the author of a number of other books and articles about China's modern and contemporary history. She is a founding co-editor of the positionspolitics.org website, and a member of the Critical China Scholars collective.


The event will take place at: Humboldt University Berlin, Institute for Asian and African Studies, room 315, Invalidenstraße 118, Berlin

Online attendance is possible via Zoom. Registration:

To Top