This essay introduces and theorizes the central concerns of this special issue, “Economies of Dispossession: Indigeneity, Race, Capitalism.” Financialization, debt, and the accelerated concentration of wealth today work through social relations already configured and disposed by imperial conquest and racial capitalism. In the Americas broadly and the United States specifically, colonization and transatlantic slavery set in motion the dynamics and differential racialized valuations that continue to underwrite particular forms of subjection, property, commerce, and territoriality. The conception of economies of dispossession introduced in this essay draws attention to the overriding importance of rationalities of abstraction and commensurability for racial capitalism. The essay problematizes the ways in which dispossession is conventionally treated as a self-evident and circumscribed practice of unjust taking and subtractive action. Instead, working across the lethal confluences of imperial conquest and racial capitalist predation, this essay critically situates the logic of propriation that organizes and underwrites predatory value in the historical present. Against the commensurabilities and rationalities of debt and finance capitalism, conditioned through the proprietary logics of settler colonialism and racial capitalism, the essay gestures toward alternative frameworks for building collective capacities for what the authors describe as a grounded relationality.
Predatory Value: Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities
Jodi A. Byrd is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and associate professor of English and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is also a faculty affiliate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. She is the author of Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (2011).
Alyosha Goldstein is associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Poverty in Common: The Politics of Community Action during the American Century (2012) and the editor of Formations of United States Colonialism (2014).
Jodi Melamed is author of Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism (2011). She is associate professor of English and Africana studies at Marquette University. Her current book project is titled Dispossession by Administration.
Chandan Reddy is associate professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies and the Comparative History of Ideas program at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the U.S. State (2011).
Jodi A. Byrd, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, Chandan Reddy; Predatory Value: Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities. Social Text 1 June 2018; 36 (2 (135)): 1–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-4362325
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