Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital awarded PEWS Book Award

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The American Sociological Association has announced that Vivek Chibber's book Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital has won the PEWS Book Award.

The PEWS Book Award is awarded annually to the leading text on the relationship between local and global social, economic, and political processes, whether of historical or contemporary significance.


Postcolonial theory has become enormously influential as a framework for understanding the Global South. It has also become popular as a school of thought because of its rejection of the supposedly universalizing categories of the Enlightenment, often including such basic categories of political economy as class and capital. In Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, Vivek Chibber focuses on the Subaltern Studies project to mount a powerful and devastating critique of post-colonial theory. He demonstrates that it is possible to affirm a universalizing theory without succumbing to Eurocentrism or reductionism. Written with great clarity and conviction, this work advances bold and erudite arguments in defense of the centrality of a materialist political economy to social analysis and historical accounts of world capitalism. Sure to be controversial, Chibber's study provokes precisely the debate that we need in these trying times as the capitalist world-system slips into ever deeper crisis.

Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital is on a 40% discount on our website.

"Chibber makes a strong case for why we can—and must—conceptualize the non-Western world through the same analytical lens that we use to understand developments in the West."
– Jacobin

"With its focus on cultural identities and mixtures, postcolonial theory ignored the larger context of capitalist relations and thus limited its scope to Western academia where it excelled in the game of growing and profiting from the liberal guilt feeling. Chibber's book simply sets the record straight, bringing postcolonialism down from cultural heights to where it belongs, into the very heart of global capitalist processes. The book we were all waiting for, a burst of fresh air dispelling the stale aroma of pseudo-radical academic establishment."
– Slavoj Žižek

"In this scrupulous and perceptive analysis, Vivek Chibber successfully shows that the 'universalizing categories of Enlightenment thought' emerge unscathed from the criticisms of postcolonial theorists. He shows further that—perhaps ironically—Subaltern Studies greatly underestimates the role of subaltern agency in bringing about the transformations that they attribute to the European bourgeoisie. Chibber's analysis also provides a very valuable account of the actual historical sociology of modern European development, of Indian peasant mobilization and activism, and much else. It is a very significant contribution."
– Noam Chomsky

"In this outstanding work—a model of clarity in its architecture and argumentation—key theorists of the 'Subaltern' and of postcoloniality have met their most formidable interlocutor and critic yet. Chibber's critique of postcolonial theory and the historical sociological studies associated with it is, at the same time, a vigorous and welcome defense of the enduring value of certain Enlightenment universals as an analytical framework to both understand and radically change the world we live in."
– Achin Vanaik

"Vivek Chibber has written a stunning critique of postcolonial theory as represented by the Subaltern Studies school. While eschewing all polemics, he shows that their project is undermined by their paradoxical acceptance of an essentially liberal-Whig interpretation of the bourgeois revolutions and capitalist development in the West, which provides the foundation for their fundamental assertion of the difference of the East. Through a series of painstaking empirical and conceptual studies Chibber proceeds to overturn the central pillars of the Subalternists' framework, while sustaining the credibility of Enlightenment theories. It is a bravura performance that cannot help but shake up our intellectual and political landscape."
– Robert Brenner

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