Re: Political Economy?

Brian Michael Howell (bmhowell@ARTSCI.WUSTL.EDU)
Wed, 14 Feb 1996 13:56:52 -0600

On Tue, 13 Feb 1996, Denise Obrien wrote:

> Political Economy is a buzzword/important theoretical paradigm
> (take your pick) in anthropology today. I'd like some input from
> Anthro-Lers. What does this term mean to you? Who does political
> economy best? What are the most important books in this area?
> And, is a non-Marxist political economy position feasible or
> possible?

Not only is a non-Marxist political economy feasible, I would suggest
that the most interesting work I've read recently comes from the opposite
direction. In order to understand how people adapt to modernization,
which is arguably the major focus of modern political economic
anthropology, the best approach is one which looks at individual
decisions rather than macro, domination models. There is a lot of
ethnographic evidence available the reveals far more economic adaptation
that neo-Marxist theory can explain. I would offer Jean Ensminger's
"Making a Market" as a good example of an explicitly non-Marxist approach
to political economy.

B Howell
Washington University - St. Louis