Primitive accumulation right now: Justin Paulson, Julie Tomiak, ‘Original and Ongoing Dispossessions: Settler Capitalism and Indigenous Resistance in British Columbia’, Journal of Historical Sociology, 2022


Abstract: This paper draws on archival research and theoretical work to articulate the specific histories, processes, and structures of primitive accumulation in British Columbia. Such processes of accumulation appear differently here than in the comparably more well-theorized contexts of imperial colonialisms. As we highlight the agents and infrastructures of dispossession, our research also aims to foreground the importance of agents and infrastructures of resistance. Different dispossessions generate different antagonisms, and we argue that Indigenous subjects are situated antagonistically to capital not only as laborers partially or wholly subsumed into capitalist social relations, but as Indigenous peoples as such, whose Indigeneity has been ‘in the way’ of development from the 1850s onward. Private property requires before all else the deterritorialization of those whose relations with the land do not revolve around its commodification. Violence against Indigenous nations, and especially Indigenous women, is not incidental to capitalist development but is a prerequisite to capitalist subsumption in the settler-colonial context. In requiring the death of either Indigeneity or the person, capital constitutes Indigenous struggle as an antagonist, interrupting both the subsumption of labor and the circulation of capital (even as such struggles may also self-constitute themselves in a variety of ways).

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