Articulating Alienation : The History and Experience of Subsumption in Rural Kigoma, Tanzania

Sammanfattning: This thesis examines the extension of capitalism in a village in Kigoma Region, Northwest Tanzania, from the point of view of how people experience it. Relying on ten months of field work, interviews, and archival material from the British colonial period, it shows how local conditions of production, and the experiences thereof, are influenced by wider processes of change on a regional, national, and global level. This change is currently characterised by the intertwined processes of land privatisation, large-scale investments in land, increased commodification of small-scale farming and intensifying cash-crop production, altering patterns of exchange, and extensive nature conservation, all of which have consequences for the people living in the area. These changes have their roots in pre-colonial and colonial history, culminating in a present characterised by repeated loss of land and resources, and peoples’ loss of the ability to keep on being farmers. Taking its point of departure in peoples’ narratives about their lives and debates on the Agrarian Question in our present historical conjecture of global capitalism, the thesis suggests that one way to better understand and explain what capitalist extension means in this context is to focus on the subsumption not just of farmers’ labour, as classical political economy does, but also on the subsumption of their practice and on their experience of this. Relying on Marx’s theory of alienation, paying attention to the implications for people and their social relations of production of living in a capitalist society, the argument the thesis makes is that the current articulation of subsumption in rural Tanzania is equally severe as that imagined by Marx under conditions of mature capitalism. This articulation finds its ultimate expression in the increased estrangement between people that the spread of capitalist relations of production entails. This offers new perspectives on the degree, extent, and severity of capitalist development, and connected forms of exploitation.