After Capital


Couze Venn

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
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  • Copyright

    Praise for the Book

    ‘This extraordinary work synthesises, extends and originates a vast range of scholarship and critical thought. In doing so, it offers the most concise yet most comprehensive account of the crisis of our times, and of the very nature of capitalism as such, to have been produced for many years. Couze Venn is one of the great unsung intellectual heroes of our age; how many other thinkers are able to synthesise post-structuralist philosophy and postcolonial theory with Marxist political economy and critical ecology, without a trace of superficiality in their approach to any of these sources? How many would even dare to try? This is an invaluable book for anyone who wants to think politically about the state of the world today, inside or outside the academy, in any discipline.’

    Jeremy Gilbert, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory, University of East London

    After Capital takes the risky path that our bleak circumstances demand. This thoughtful and learned intervention boldly spells out protocols for a new way of living. Moving between critique and urgent, unsentimental speculation, Couze Venn identifies the novel habits required to sustain life beyond the war, waste and squalor of contemporary capitalism.’

    Paul Gilroy, Professor of American and English Literature, Kings College, University of London

    A tour de force. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this book – not only for the present but for many generations to come.’

    Valerie Walkerdine, Professor, Cardiff University

    ‘I could not recommend a better book to those interested not only in the interdependence of the multiple crises (environmental, economic and political) that we are currently entangled in, but also in alternative visions for the future. After Capital is outstanding scholarship that daringly and passionately articulates new conceptual frameworks that makes clear the potential of a post-capitalist and post-anthropocentric cosmopolitics of the commons to make life after capital something to look forward to.’

    Dr Tiziana Terranova, University of Naples, L’Orientale

    ‘With typical depth and thoughtfulness, Couze Venn explores and untangles the intricately woven and mammoth issues that we face today. Erudite and scholarly, these pages are a revelation and guide in our complex and uncertain times.’

    Dr Dave Beer, Reader, York University


    The book is dedicated to my wife Francesca for the years of constant and unfailing emotional sustenance, love and intellectual companionship. The loving support of our close family, Scarlett Thomas, Rod Edmond, Sam Ashurst, Hari Ashurst-Venn and Nia Ashurst-Venn has sustained me through the long process of writing; they have been a constant source of encouragement, comfort and fun. It is dedicated also to Francesca’s and my granddaughter Ivy, in the hope that the world she inherits from us is a liveable and happy one, to be shared amongst all equally as the greatest gift.

    About the Author

    Couze Venn is Emeritus Professor in the Media and Communications Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at the Johannesburg University. He was a founder member of the Ideology & Consciousness Collective in 1976. He is a co-author of Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity (Methuen, 1984 and Routledge, 1998), author of Occidentalism. Modernity and Subjectivity (Sage, 2000), The Postcolonial Challenge: Towards Alternative Worlds (Sage, 2006), co-author of Inequality, Poverty, Education (Palgrave, 2014). He is the Managing Editor and Reviews Editor of Theory, Culture & Society, Reviews Editor of Body & Society. His many papers have appeared in Ideology & Consciousness, Theory, Culture & Society, Body & Society, Subjectivity, New Formations, Critical Arts, Parallax, Social Identities, Political Geography, PsychCritique. He has edited or co-edited special issues and sections on Michel Foucault (with Tiziana Terranova), Affect (with Lisa Blackman), Problematizing Global Knowledge (with Mike Featherstone et al.), Cosmopolis (with Mike Featherstone et al.), Rethinking Race. His research interests include decolonial theory, cultural theory, contemporary philosophy, science and technology studies, the critique of capitalism.


    This book has taken much longer to complete than I had anticipated. Along the way many friends and colleagues have offered comments and generous encouragements without which this book would never have seen the light of day. Several aspects of the book have been developed over the years, through talks and seminars to which colleagues had kindly invited me, and in a number of journal articles. Key arguments were tried out at a plenary lecture for the Radical Foucault Conference in 2011 organised by my friend Jeremy Gilbert. Jeremy has also read early drafts of chapters and provided valuable comments and advice when I needed reassurance about the overall project. The problem of debt in today’s financial capitalism was presented in 2012 at the TCS seminar on property at the University of Naples l’Orientale, organised by colleagues there, principally Tiziana Terranova and Iain Chambers. The analysis in Chapter 3 extends a position I developed in an article in Theory, Culture & Society in 2009 – ‘Neoliberal political economy, biopolitics and colonialism’; Chapter 4 has benefited from the research which Francesca and I did for our book Inequality, Poverty, Exclusion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); and Chapter 6 draws from my paper in Body & Society in 2010 – ‘Individuation, relationality, affect: Rethinking the human in relation to the living’.

    I have discussed ideas and shared early drafts with the Changing the Subject book group, Julian Henriques, Wendy Hollway, Cathy Urwin and Valerie Walkerdine. Their intellectual and emotional support and enthusiastic comments and inputs helped me reorganise the arguments and have a better sense of what I needed to foreground. Cathy has since died and we all miss her greatly.

    My colleague and friend Mike Featherstone has offered all manner of support over the years, providing me with opportunities to test and disseminate many ideas through articles in the journals he edits, as well as through the Theory, Culture & Society Book Series. He has been a rock on whom I have relied a lot.

    Robert Rojek at Sage has skilfully steered the book through the hazards of the publishing machine. Thank you Robert.

    Special thanks are due to Dave Beer, Jeremy Gilbert, Paul Gilroy, Chris Miles, Lynne Segal, Tiziana Terranova, Vron Ware. Their confidence in the project and their comments have sustained me and helped me rework my arguments.

    Other colleagues and friends provided much valued suggestions and encouragement. Some have read chapters at different points in the process of writing and I have tried to incorporate their suggestions where necessary. They are Lisa Blackman, Ryan Bishop, Andy Conio, Neal Curtis, Simon Dawes, Heike Doring, Nick Gane, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Sunil Manghani, Matt Merefield, Dimitris Pappadopoulos, John Phillips, Bev Skeggs and Tomoko Tamari. I am grateful also to my colleague Sheila Sheikh whose kindness and support has been invaluable. Dr Lydon has nursed me through serious health problems.

    Thanks are due to the team at SAGE – Katherine Haw, Delayna Spencer, Susheel Gokarakonda who have been helpful, patient and indulgent, making the task of completion less stressful than it could have been, and the copyeditor, Christine Bitten has ironed out the kinks.

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