Theory as History

Essays on Modes of Production and Exploitation

Jairus Banaji


Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2013

406 pages

Price INR 525
Book Club Price INR 394

The essays collected here straddle four decades of work in both historiography and Marxist theory, combining source-based historical work in a wide range of languages with sophisticated discussion of Marx's categories. Key themes include the distinctions that are crucial to restoring complexity to the Marxist notion of a 'mode of production'; the emergence of medieval relations of production; the origins of capitalism; the dichotomy between free and unfree labour and essays in agrarian history that range widely from Byzantine Egypt to 19th-century colonialism. The essays demonstrate the importance of reintegrating theory with history and of bringing history back into historical materialism. An introductory chapter ties the collection together and shows how historical materialists can develop an alternative to Marx's 'Asiatic mode of production'. The publisher of this book is Aakar.

Jairus Banaji

Jairus Banaji’s main research interests have included: agrarian history; Late Antiquity and early Islam; historical materialism; Marx’s method in Capital; the fate of the peasantry under capitalism; and, unions and industrial relations in India. Cambridge University Press will soon be publishing a collection of his historical work under the title Exploring the Economy of Late Antiquity: Selected Essays. He also recently finished the first full-length English translation of Henry Grossman’s classic text on Marx’s crisis theory, The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System. This is scheduled for publication as part of a larger collection of Grossman’s writings.