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Articulation of modes of production: a comment on Aiden Foster-Carter

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This brief contribution to a collection of essays on Marxist theories of underdevelopment addresses the problem of a proliferation in pre-capitalist modes of production in the writings of scholars employing Marxist concepts in their analysis of socio-economic transformation in non-western economies in the 1970s. The focus of discussion is the notion of stages of articulation of modes of production within social formations and Aiden Foster-Carter's critique of the idea of some sort of linear transition in modes. The paper establishes the conceptual setting for another by the author of modes of production and circular migration in eastern Fiji (Bedford, 1984).
... Brookfield's (1975) critique of these perspectives persisted through the late 1970s notwithstanding the growing interest among geographers working in underdeveloped countries in the revival of a Marxist critique of capitalist development. I recall flirting with the articulation of modes of production in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the conservation/dissolution debate about such modes in the face of capitalist penetration of pre-capitalist societies (Bedford, 1980c(Bedford, , 1982(Bedford, , 1984, stimulated by the presence of Richard Peet and Edward Soja at the ANU as visitors at the time. ...
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 Harold Brookfield's contribution to population studies has not been given much prominence in the literature. In this paper, I revisit a number of his major papers written in the 1960s and 1970s in two contexts: first, with reference to his response to the intellectual debates that were transforming the discipline of geography at this time, and second, with reference to my experiences as a postgraduate student at the Australian National University, in the ‘Brookfield school’ and, later, as a research colleague in Brookfield's interdisciplinary island ecosystems project in Fiji. Although Brookfield increasingly saw himself as an ‘outsider’ in the changing mainstream of human geography, he remained an extremely influential writer for successive generations of geographers who chose to work on population issues in the western Pacific. His research contribution was immense, and remains relevant, which is more than can be said for much that was written by those ‘inside’ the discipline in the heady years of intellectual foment that characterised the social sciences, including geography, in last quarter of the twentieth century.
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New Zealand population geographers in the South Pacific islands early focused on resource issues, especially in Fiji and the smaller island states politically linked to New Zealand. This later extended into analysis of the structure of village level economic and social development, notably in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Fiji. These analyses contributed to a clearer understanding of the substance of development at a key turning point in the region's history - the transition to independence. Migration, or mobility, and urbanisation attracted enormous interest throughout the region, with lengthy debates ranging over migration models, urban permanence, the ideology of return and metaphors of mobility, establishing the most distinctive thrust of New Zealand research in the region. Practical research, involving censuses and consultancies, has directly contributed to development. Despite the valuable historical legacy the extent and significance of New Zealand work on the population geography of the Island Pacific has now dwindled.
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