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Journal Article

Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure

Mayfair Mei‐hui Yang
Current Anthropology
Vol. 41, No. 4 (August/October 2000), pp. 477-509
DOI: 10.1086/317380
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/317380
Page Count: 33
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Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place
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Abstract

This article takes up J. K. Gibson‐Graham’s call for a theoretical move away from a model of monolithic global capitalism and notions of one‐way “penetration” of capitalism. The notion of “economic hybridity” (derived from Bakhtin’s writing on linguistic hybridity) is proposed as an alternative to the Marxist concept of “articulation of modes of production” to account for the coming together of economic logics and practices from different epochs and cultural histories. The ethnography that sustains this discussion addresses the significance of popular religious revival in rural Wenzhou, on the southeast coast of China, and its role in the postsocialist market economy. Borrowing from Georges Bataille’s notion of “ritual expenditure” and from early Baudrillard on symbolic economies, the case study shows that rural Wenzhou’s ritual economy harbors an archaic economic logic which is subversive of capitalist, state socialist, and developmental‐state principles. The older strains of an alternative economic logic in this hybrid are shown not as complementing, adapting to, or serving capitalism’s expansion but as contesting it and rechanneling its movement toward other ends.

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