Racial Capitalism and Global Labour Studies – a Missed Encounter ?


  • Jörg Nowak University of Brasilia




Despite of the centrality of the topic of labour in the 1983 book by Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism, global labour studies have devoted little attention to the concept of racial capitalism that became established with Robinson’s book. Robinson’s main claim is that the first proletariat formed in the plantations in colonized countries from about the 16th century, calling into question the crucial relevance of the industrial proletariat in England (and Europe) for the emergence of the labour movement. In taking up recent debates on racial capitalism that are inspired by Robinson´s work, but which also expand and criticize it, this text proposes a more integrated theorization of race and labour. It also takes up debates about the Plantationocene as a complex dispositive which connects ecological rupture, large scale production and racialised labour.