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Envisioning capitalism : geography and the renewal of Marxian political-economy Castree, Noel

Abstract

Not for the first time, Marxism is considered to be in a state of 'crisis'. This thesis seeks to 'underlabour' on behalf of a particular version of Marxism, a version articulated with force, coherence and great originality for over two decades within human geography: what David Harvey (1985a: xii), in a paradigmatic formulation, has called 'historicalgeographical materialism'. A research programme, rather than the work of any one individual, historical-geographical materialism has in various ways and at various levels creatively extended the classical Marxist canon in a geographical direction. Yet today it is considered increasingly passe by critics on the Left as well as the Right of human geography, reflecting the wider ennui with Marxism outside the discipline. In particular, it is seen as being too 'modern' - too foundationalist, totalising and authoritative in its cognitive and normative claims - to contribute effectively to a critical human geography for the 1990s. Against this, this thesis seeks to develop an alternative reading of the core claims of this research programme by offering a novel reinterpretation of Marx's mature political-economy. Rewriting Marx's account of what Postone (1996: 1) calls "the fundamental core of capitalism", the thesis puts this reinterpretation of the explanatorydiagnostic basis of Marx's critique to work on three major themes of historicalgeographical materialism: the production of space, the production pf nature and the production of subjectivity. It does so in order to illustrate the explanatory power, thematic reach and theoretical coherence of this reinterpretation, as well as its relevance to the late capitalist world. In closing, the normative or anticipatory-utopian basis of this reinterpreted historical-geographical materialism is considered and its political implications for today thereby scrutinised.

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