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Who Are the Super-Exploited? Gender, Race, and the Intersectional Potentialities of Dependency Theory

Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Abstract

Is dependency theory gender- and race-blind? Appearing in Latin American in the 1960s, dependency theory flourished in a moment when social sciences at large began to embrace critical approaches centered on race and gender. However, with the exception of the pioneering work of Vânia Bambirra, original dependency writers did not engage directly with the systemic consequences of entrenched gender and race inequalities. Instead, anti-racist and anti-patriarchal struggles were subsumed under the class struggle. In this article, I argue that, although gender and race inequalities were not in fact among the core concerns of dependency theory, there is a fundamental complementarity between feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial approaches and dependency theory, at least in its most radical, Marxist expression. Specifically, Marini’s concept of the super-exploitation of labor and Bambirra’s concept of ‘dominated–dominant’ ruling classes call for gendered and racialized definitions of the super-exploited and the Latin American ruling classes. By expanding the scope of these two key concepts, I invite contemporary scholars to explore the intersectional potentialities of dependency theory.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For some of the media coverage on this innovative protest, see The Guardian (2020) and BBC (2020a).

  2. 2.

    A possible translation: Patriarchy is our judge/That imprisons us at birth/And our punishment/Is the violence you can’t see./Patriarchy is our judge/That imprisons us at birth/And our punishment /Is the violence you can now see./It’s femicide. /Impunity for my killer. /It’s our disappearances. /It’s rape!/And it ain’t my fault, not where I was, nor how I dressed./And the rapist was you/And the rapist is you/It’s the cops,/It’s the judges,/It’s the system /The President./This oppressive state is a macho rapist.

  3. 3.

    The ongoing revival of dependency theory appears to follow the same pattern. Insightful contemporary dependency scholarship has unfortunately remained largely gender- and race-blind—including my own recent production. See, for instance Antunes de Oliveira (2017, 2019a, 2019b), Stallings (2020), Katz (2019), Valencia (2015), Wasserman (2017). Although Kvangraven (2020) clearly points to the problem, she does not directly address it either.

  4. 4.

    Machismo can be defined as ‘a culturally specific form of hegemonic masculinity’ (Hurtado & Sinha, 2016: 14).

  5. 5.

    Of course, later Cardoso abjured Marxism in favor of Weberian, reformist perspectives (see Antunes de Oliveira, 2021), whereas Frank departed increasingly further from Marxism in his world historical perspective (see Frank, 1998). Nevertheless, the first generation of dependency writers explicitly drew from Marx.

  6. 6.

    For the key importance of cultural capital as a tool of social differentiation for Brazilian white middle classes, see the devastating critique of Jesse Souza (2015, 2018).

  7. 7.

    For a critique of Cardoso’s administration, see Anderson (2020). For a critique of Cardoso’s intellectual degeneration, see Antunes de Oliveira (2021).

  8. 8.

    Marini wrote his intellectual memories to reclaim his Professor position at UNB. This document remains unpublished to this day.

  9. 9.

    The best effort to date remains that of Kay (2010), which faithfully introduces the most important dependency debates but does not seek to fully survey the work of dependency scholars.

  10. 10.

    See Valencia (2015) for a comprehensive explanation of the enduring relevance of the concept of super-exploitation. For an insightful contemporary critique, see Katz (2019).

  11. 11.

    For a contemporary reappraisal of Trotsky’s concept of uneven and combined development and its enduring relevance for international political economy analysis, see Antunes de Oliveira (2020).

  12. 12.

    The original word here is ‘criollas.’ I choose to translate it to ‘of European origins’ because the world ‘creole’ in English has assumed a totally different meaning. According to Cambridge Dictionary, ‘creole’ can be defined as ‘a person of mixed African and European origin who speaks a language that is a combination of a European language and an African language’ (Cambridge Dictionary Online, 2020). Conversely, according to the dictionary of the Spanish Real Academia, ‘criolla’ means ‘child or descendent of Europeans, born in the old Spanish territories in America, or in some European colonies in that continent’ (Real Academia Espanola Online, 2020).

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Antunes de Oliveira, F. (2021). Who Are the Super-Exploited? Gender, Race, and the Intersectional Potentialities of Dependency Theory. In: Madariaga, A., Palestini, S. (eds) Dependent Capitalisms in Contemporary Latin America and Europe. International Political Economy Series. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71315-7_5

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