The Logic of Dispossession
Capitalist Accumulation in Urban Bangladesh
Keywords:peripheral regions, dispossession, urban transformation, primitive accumulation, accumulation by dispossession, logic of dispossession, Dhaka, Bangladesh
One particular focus of world-systems analysis is to examine the historical trajectory of capitalist transformation in peripheral regions. This paper investigates the capitalist transformation in a specific peripheral area—the country of Bangladesh. In particular, it examines the role of dispossession in transforming an agricultural society into a neoliberal capitalist society by looking at the transformation of Panthapath Street in Dhaka, Bangladesh, since 1947. Building on the existing literature of dispossession, this article proposes an approach that explains the contribution of dispossession in capitalist accumulation. The proposed theory consists of four logics of dispossession: transformative, exploitative, redistributive, and hegemonic. These four logics of dispossession, both individually and dialectically reinforcing one another, work to privatize the commons, proletarianize subsistence laborers, create antagonistic class relations, redistribute wealth upward, and commodify sociopolitical and cultural aspects of urban life. This paper’s central argument is that dispossession not only converted an agricultural society into a capitalist society in Bangladesh, but that dispossession continues to reproduce the country’s existing capitalist system. This research draws on a wide range of empirical and historical evidence collected from Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2017 and 2018.
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