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This superb historical and ethnographic study of the political economy of the Vega Baja region of Spain, one of the European Union’s “Regional Economies,” takes up the difficult question of how to understand the growing alienation ordinary working people feel in the face of globalization. Combining rich oral histories with a sophisticated and nuanced structural understanding of changing political economies, the authors examine the growing divide between government and its citizens in a region that has in the last four decades been transformed from a primarily agricultural economy to a primarily industrial one. Offering a new form of ethnography appropriate for the study of suprastate polities and a globalized economy, Immediate Struggles contributes to our understanding of one region as well as the way we think about changing class relations, modes of production, and cultural practices in a newly emerging Europe. The authors also consider how phenomena such as the “informal economy” and “black market” are not marginal to the normal operation of state and economic institutions but are intertwined with both.
List of Illustrations
1. Toward an Anthropological Framework
for Studying Contemporary Europe
Part I. Conflicting Histories
2. The Histories of the Regional Political Economy
3. Regulating Social Life through Uncertainty and Fear
4. From Insecurity to Dependency
5. From Insecurity to Movement
Part II. Regional Capitalism
6. Families and Entrepreneurs
7. Flexible Structures and Torn Lives
8. The Culture of Politics, the Politics of Culture
9. The Power of Ethnography
Susana Narotzky, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Barcelona in Spain, is author of New Directions in Economic Anthropology among other books. Gavin Smith, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, is author of Confronting the Present: Towards a Politically Engaged Anthropology (1999).
“Essential reading for many, including those doing social science research on Spain and on the political economy of 20th- and 21st century globalization anywhere in the world.”—American Anthropologist
is a rich, ethnographically informed analysis of the concept and the historical reality of a 'regional economy' in Spain. It makes a major contribution to our understanding of changing class relations, modes of production, and cultural practices in a newly emerging Europe."—Peter Schneider, co-author of Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo