Social Sciences for An-Other Politics. Women Theorising without Parachutes

2017.  Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke. 

  • Provides a ground-breaking and provocative approach to social and political change
  • Critiques capitalist-colonial-patriarchal society by delineating alternative realities
  • Transcends academic boundaries and binary divisions between knowledge and practice

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The book is dedicated to Berta Cáceres and Jo Cox, two great women brutally silenced for their resistance to power and their hope in a world that can contain many worlds in it. This book opens up a unique intellectual space where eleven female scholar-activists explore alternative forms of theorising social reality. This is not a book on feminism, or feminist theory, although we are feminists and we use feminist theory. We are women thinking and writing. The collection is also a vindication of critical theory written by women. Are we ‘radical humanists’ then? Well. Should radical theory not be about humanity? What else could it be about? This book aims to contribute to the existing process of developing anticipatory, engaged, critical, open, ecological, decolonial, anti-oppressive forms of ‘theorising’ as a tool against capital, patriarchy and coloniality. The authors, who call themselves ‘Women on the Verge’ demonstrate that a new radical subject– one that is plural, prefigurative, decolonial, ethical, ecological, communal and democratic- is in the making, but is unrecognizable with old analytical tools. Of central concern to the book is the resistance of some social scientists, many of them critical theorists, to learning about this radical subject and to interrogating the concepts, methodologies and epistemologies used to grasp it. Echoing the experiential critique of capitalist-colonial society that is taking place at the grassroots, the authors examine how to create hope, decolonise critique and denaturalise society.

They also address the various dimensions of the social (re)production of life, including women in development, the commons, and nature. Finally, they discuss the dynamics of prefiguration by social movements, critiquing social movement theory in the process. This thought-provoking edited collection will appeal to students and scholars of gender studies, social, Marxist and Feminist theory, postcolonial studies and politics.

What a joy it is to greet this inspirational book of engaged feminist political theory. I love the image of our thinkers floating down from on high, some free flying, some with parachutes entangled into webs of collectivity, all, aiming to land on an earth that has been transformed by their courageous work. J.K. Gibson-Graham applauds this daring stunt!  She recognizes herself in the commitments that guide this collection—to a realistic hopefulness, to performative concepts, to prefigurative actions that will bring other worlds into being. And she welcomes the company of so many others in that space ‘on the verge’…This is a collection of edgy political theory so saturated with a feminist sensibility that is has become unremarkable. And yet remarkable it surely is. The feminist thinkers who have contributed to this book have the weight of the world on their shoulders and the challenges we face as inhabitants on this precious planet squarely in focus. They are leading the way by combining critical thinking, astute appreciation of what we have to work with, and creative imaginings. Again J.K. Gibson-Graham applauds their efforts. What they have produced is, by no means, just a stunt, it is shaping our future. 

Prof. Katherine Gibson, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University

This book brings together some of the most exciting social theorists writing, thinking and working today. It ventures beyond familiar accounts of contemporary challenges and opens up important new ways of framing future trajectories for change. It should be read far and wide.

Professor Keri Facer, University of Bristol, AHRC Leadership Fellow for Connected Communities

In a time of social, political, economic and environmental change there is a pressing need for new ways of thinking/being/doing/researching that address the prefigurative nature of politics. In Social Sciences for an Other Politics: Women Theorizing Without Parachutes, Ana Cecilia Dinerstein has brought together a collection of radical feminist thinkers who have chosen to share stories of hopeful worlds that affirm life. According to Dinerstein, theory as-we-know-it cannot fully explain the types of radical subjects, social movements and politics that are emerging to confront and embody the possibility of thinking/being/doing/researching other. The book addresses what it means to practice radical geography in the here and now; exploring how we might be open to possibility, practice “experiential critique” (p.3) and develop a language from “concrete praxis” (p.2)…This daring book will therefore be of significant interest to the readers of Antipode who are enmeshed in the worlds of social movements and concrete utopias as writers, thinkers and practitioners.

Miriam Williams, Antipode, August 2017

The politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The art of Organising Hope

Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke. 2015

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The book provides a critique of the concept and practice of autonomy by social movements –the practice of self-management, self-representation and self-determination – for post-colonial Latin America. Drawing on recent examples from prominent social movements in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico, I suggest that the current debate about the significance of autonomous movements for political transformation is at a stalemate. Definitions of autonomy fail to fully grasp the commitment of Latin American movements to create radically different visions of society, beyond capitalism, patriarchy or coloniality. Instead, by highlighting the parallels between autonomy and Ernst Bloch’s principle of hope, I define autonomy as ‘the art of organizing hope’ – or, the art of shaping a reality which is not yet but can be anticipated by the movements’ collective actions. The book is mainly about social movements’ artful ways to organise alternative realities to those imposed by power, and how they dare to dream and construct a better world in the present. My analysis does not stop with the political and institutional transformations led by new centre-left government in the region. It rather emphasises the significant role of radical –hope- movements in transforming institutional politics, and points to the danger of translating and subordinating their concrete utopias into the old logics of state power. Doubtless, hope is an essential component of politics. No hope, no change. At a time when millions of people in the world are learning from their concrete experiences, the book provides tools to comprehend the significance of such collective actions. Neoliberal austerity is a policy governed by the social construction of hopelessness. Hopelessness is the key tool for the implementation of austerity measures and rejects the belief in the human capacity to create a habitable and just world. Hope is the antidote to austerity. However, hope is not just a ‘wish’ or the optimism in a better future. Hope is an attitude and a form of understanding the present reality as an open and unfinished process, full of unforeseen possibilities that are already lurking in the present. Bloch’s philosophy of hope rejects Marxism as an economic theory to transform Marxism into a radical theory of hope. It offers simultaneously both a critique of the injustices of the world we live in, and a method to engage in the already existing process of creation of alternative realities beyond what it is. Hope must be learned and educated. This is what politics is about in Latin America and elsewhere. Reading Marx’s method in key of hope, the book offers a prefigurative critique of political economy and emphasises the prefigurative features of indigenous and non indigenous autonomies at a time when utopia can no longer be objected.

Terrific and necessary. An excellent and informative account of the wonderful movements of revolt in Latin America in recent years, but it is much more than that. Latin America is not just over there (over here in my case) but an inspiration and a challenge for all of us. Even more exciting than the title is the subtitle: The Art of Organising Hope. That is what we so desperately need, that is why the book is so important, and not just for those with a special interest in Latin America.

John Holloway, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico

Ana Cecilia Dinerstein’s book is a major intervention, which reframes these questions fundamentally and places the hopes, experiments, contradictions and possibilities of social movements centre-stage while recognising the specificity of Latin American and indigenous experiences. Clear and powerful, this work is badly needed.

Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland

‘The book is terrific. It is teeming with radical scholarship’

Mike Neary, University of Lincoln, UK

What Ana Cecilia Dinerstein has done with this book is to demonstrate how the philosophy of Ernst Bloch cannot be said to exist in a purely abstract vacuum, as is often contended in western philosophical debate. She has pointed out here that the philosophy of hope, of the anticipated realisation of hope in social form, i.e. politically in the form of revolution and change, is central to his concerns and resonates in what were long seemed to be “peripheral” areas. The strength of this book is to point out that …any movement towards social and political liberation is one which is only partially determined by these economic conditions in the traditional Marxist sense but is carried by the sense of hope and the pre-illuminations of what might be.

Peter Thompson, University of Sheffield, UK

The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America offers an invaluable starting point for thinking about these challenges and for confronting the limitations of fatalist critiques or naïve optimism that too often pervade debates on autonomy. More than that, it offers an open blueprint for thinking about and acting upon the idea that, within a concrete reality that continues to be overwritten by the hopelessness of neoliberalism, the seeds of hope still remain.

Adam Fishwick, Antipode, October, 2016

The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organizing Hope serves as an exciting contribution to emerging discussions, debates, and struggles that go by the name of autonomy. Not only does it provide new trajectories for thinking about autonomous struggles, but it also serves as a review to many of the philosophical debates that have taken up autonomy in the past. Dinerstein’s analysis is accomplished through an exciting conversation between her unique theoretical approaches to autonomy, and the on the ground practices of autonomous movements in the Latin American context. It is here particularly, that the book garners its usefulness from practice to theory and everywhere in between.

Ryan A. Knight INTERFACE: A journal for and about social movements

This is a major book for minor Marxism. Not only does it develop our ability to properly think through autonomy – perhaps the central concern of contemporary emancipatory movements – but it also shows us how we might go about doing this.

David Bailey, CAPITAL & CLASS

One of the pleasures of this book is its total disregard for the disciplinary boundaries that police contemporary academia. The range of learning on display – across philosophy, history, sociology and politics – is exemplary on many levels. These days one begins a book on autonomy or horizontalism in Latin America with a peculiar trepidation, and an abiding expectation that what lies ahead is rather too well trodden terrain. Diner-stein surprises here as well, offering genuinely novel arguments that adjust our horizons from ‘autonomy and the state’ to the prefigurative potential of social movements in a Blochian frame of hope: what she terms ‘Marx’s critique of political economy in the key of hope’, or ‘the prefigurative critique of political economy.


The accessibility of the book is significant because it tells a very important story. The author makes a compelling case to explore the possibilities of the ‘not yet’ rather than wallow in the fatalism of the ‘not ever’.  Coming at a time when neoliberalism continues to dominate the global political and economic landscape, this is a timely and powerful message.


Social Movements and Collective Autonomy

Capital Intelectual, Buenos Aires. 2013 (with D. Contartese, M. Deledicque, J.P. Ferrero, L. Ghiotto and R. Pascual)

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Este libro se basa en datos obtenidos en el transcurso de dos proyectos de investigación llevados adelante por los autores entre los años 2005 y 2009: “El Movimiento de trabajadores desocupados en Argentina” y “Movimientos Sociales y Autonomía Colectiva en América Latina (Dinerstein ©RES-155-25-07). Ambos proyectos fueron subvencionados por el Consejo de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (ESRC) del Reino Unido, y formaron parte del parte del Programa Internacional sobre ‘Acción Pública No Gubernamental’ (APNG) del Centro de la Sociedad Civil, Escuela de Economía y Ciencia Política de Londres (LSE). Este volumen es el producto final de un trabajo colectivo y queremos expresar nuestra gratitud a quienes nos ayudaron en esta empresa de diversas formas. 

Targeted to non-academic audiences to create public awareness about the capacity of marginalised social actors to organise and transform their communities.

En este volumen, nos propusimos salir de este falso ‘dilema’ a través de la exploración concreta de procesos de construcción de autonomía colectiva por cuatro de los movimientos más importantes de América Latina: las Juntas Vecinales (JV) de El Alto, Bolivia; las Organizaciones Piqueteras (OPs), de Argentina; el MST, de Brasil y el Movimiento Zapatista, de México. No intentamos aquí resolver la disyuntiva rebelión-institucionalización que habita al interior de las prácticas autonómicas, sino que, junto con los movimientos, decidimos exponerla y navegarla. No responderemos entonces a la pregunta de si la autotomía colectiva es revolucionaria o complaciente, sino que exhibiremos su naturaleza compleja y conflictiva en cada uno de sus contextos específicos de producción y desarrollo (diversidad) extrapolando a la vez los elementos más universales de las particularidades de cada caso. 

El argumento general que ha guiado esta investigación y los trabajos de este volumen es el siguiente: las experiencias de autonomía colectiva generan espacios desde donde articular alternativas a la realidad capitalista. Por ello, soportan en su interior una tensión fundamental que no puede ser permanentemente resuelta sino que debe manejarse: la tensión entre la rebelión (resistencia y acción para cambiar el mundo) y la institucionalización (la incorporación de ideologías y proyectos en programas y legislación estatales que incluyen la autonomía como parte de la política y discursos oficiales). Sin embargo, poner el acento en esta tensión no significa simplemente que los análisis aquí presentados se focalicen en la disyuntiva de los movimientos entre la posibilidad de ‘luchar contra el Estado para eliminarlo como instrumento de desigualdad y opresión’ y la de ‘ganar territorios en el Estado que sirvan para avanzar en las conquistas populares’ (Thwaites Rey, 2004: 84). Lo que proponemos es que los procesos de construcción de autonomía colectiva no consiguen aprehenderse estrictamente como procesos de rebelión o concomitancia de los sujetos colectivos frente al Estado

Concebimos al Estado como una forma política de la relación del capital y, como tal, como una mediación para la constitución de subjetividad colectiva autónoma. El Estado, junto con el dinero y la ley, por un lado, y las formas identitarias, organizacionales y de movilización y lucha, por el otro, moldean la subjetividad política, en nuestro caso, la autonomía colectiva. Este es, en última instancia, el sitio de conjunción de múltiples conflictos, luchas, negociaciones e intervenciones que se despliegan sobre las mediaciones que participan en su producción. Es decir, la contienda por y contra la posibilidad de realización de una subjetividad colectiva autónoma emancipadora no es directa sino que se desplaza hacia múltiples disputas sobre las formas de las mediaciones objetivas (las leyes, las instituciones estatales, las formas de institucionalización y regulación del conflicto de clase a nivel local, nacional e internacional, las políticas públicas, los programas de políticas de desarrollo internacional, la economía) y subjetivas (imaginarios sociales, ideas e ideologías, formas identitarias, organizacionales y de movilización y protesta) Cuando decimos entonces que el Estado es una mediación de la lucha de los movimientos por constituirse en subjetividad emancipadora, no nos referimos a la función estatal de regulación o dominación ejercida externamente sobre los sujetos sino a su función constitutiva del proceso de producción de subjetividad. El Estado es una forma de existencia de las relaciones antagónicas, no elimina las inconsistencias de dichas relaciones sino que permite que existan. Por ello, nuestro trabajo analiza el Estado, las leyes, la economía y los tratados internacionales con el fin de reposicionar el eje del debate sobre la autonomía. Este foco en las contradicciones emergidas de la lucha por la autonomía es relevante en el presente, debido a que muchos movimientos sociales han abandonado una estrategia de oposición y demanda pura, hacia una política donde la oposición y la demanda son puestas al servicio de la elaboración de alternativas en que la experiencia concreta se convierte en el instrumento de oposición y crítica. No contentos con confrontar abiertamente con las políticas neoliberales y post neoliberales, muchos de estos movimientos se hallan enteramente inmersos en un proceso imperfecto, heterogéneo e incierto de construcción de realidades alternativas a la capitalista. 

La autonomía no es un estado que se alcanza y establece de modo definitivo, sino una búsqueda
incesante y renovada. Si es colectiva, condensa la riqueza y las dificultades que se le plantea a toda
gesta común con vocación emancipadora. En las páginas de este libro se describen experiencias
autonómicas de movimientos sociales latinoamericanos de
nuevo tipo, con toda su potencialidad, sus límites y contradicciones en la búsqueda de trascender el
horizonte capitalista ya desde sus prácticas cotidianas. Es lo que con Gramsci podemos identificar
como prefigurar, construir “desde ahora” la sociedad futura.
Ese hacer obstinado es un anticipo de lo que alguna vez podrá ser para todos, si se batalla
conscientemente para conquistarlo, si se afirma la constitución de subjetividades autónomas capaces
de sostenerlo. Ese principio de esperanza, como nos recuerda Ana Dinerstein, tiene que ser
organizado, hacerse práctica y hermanarse en múltiples experiencias capaces de golpear como una
sola. A ese sueño rebelde compartido aporta la lectura de este tan oportuno libro.

Professor Mabel Thwaites Rey, Instituto de Estudios de América Latina y el Caribe (IEALC) –
University of Buenos Aires

The Piqueteros Road. Struggles and Legacies

Capital Intelectual, Buenos Aires, 2010 (with D. Contartese, M. Deledicque).

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Targeted to non-academic audiences to create public awareness about the capacity of marginalised social actors to organise and transform their communities.

ara analizar la protesta social a partir de los 90 resulta fundamental detenerse en el rol desempeñado por los piqueteros. El corte de rutas se ha convertido en un renovado símbolo de argentinidad. A tal punto es así que en algunas escuelas primarias los alumnos llegaron a incluirlos junto al dulce de leche, el mate y el tango. La politóloga Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, el sociólogo Daniel Contartese y la estudiante Melina Deledicque arrancan de esa comprobación para esbozar un cuidadoso estudio de las movilizaciones callejeras protagonizadas por desocupados. Los autores subrayan su potencial político y su influencia en las políticas públicas. Antes se pensaba que, al estar excluidos del sistema productivo, los desempleados eran los actores más débiles de la cadena política. Sin embargo, como este libro lo demuestra, los piqueteros desafiaron el escepticismo y, lejos de funcionar como organizaciones temporarias, se consolidaron como actores importantes del escenario político y social argentino.

The Labour Debate: An Investigation into the Theory and Reality of Capitalist Work 

Routledge, London-New York, 2002 (Co-editor: Michael Neary)

English version is out of print. 

Let me know if you are interested in the book

This title was first published in 2002: In a world dominated by capitalist work (labour), working for a wage is the central unavoidable reality of modern social life, and yet, the category of labour remains underdeveloped in social sciences. While waged labour in all its forms, including unemployment and mass poverty, has now invaded all aspects of social life, labour appears to have disappeared as a practice that constitutes modern society. This book revitalises labour as the fundamental constitutive principle of the social world, through a radical reinterpretation of Marx’s social theory. Each chapter develops a central Marxist theme: the continuing centrality of work; class and classification; commodity fetishism and primitive accumulation; labour movements and the way in which labour moves; unemployment, subjectivity and class consciousness, and the new forms of resistance developed in Europe, Latin America and East Asia. In conclusion, the editors give an account of what they consider to be the main critical and practical problems and possibilities confronting the concept and reality of labour in the 21st century.


…an interesting counter-point to the mainstream industrial relations literature…an excellent introduction and up-date on recent theoretical developments in Marxism…well worth reading and studying, and not just for nostalgic reasons.’ Journal of Industrial Relations ‘It can help a lot in the understanding of social relations dominating the dynamic of the global production process and its political implications.’ CLR News ‘This was a highly focused collection of chapters, deriving, as each does, much of their theoretical structures from detailed analysis of Marx and Marxism. It also possessed a stylistic uniformity.
Labour & Industry


Emek Tartismasi. Kapitalist Isin Teorisi ve Gerceligine Dair Bir Inceleme

Otonom, Ankara, 2006


Emek sorununa hem geleneksel Marksizmin hem de post-modern Marksizmin bakış açısından farklı bir yerden bakan kitap, soyut-somut emek, işçi sınıfı, devrimci özne, devrimci bilinç, sömürü, işçi sınıfı örgütleri gibi temel kavramları yeniden ele alıp yorumluyor. Bu yorumun ekseninde ise “kapitalist iş” duruyor. Emek Tartışması kitabı, kapitalist işi ve kapitalist işe dayalı toplumsallığın kuruluşunu ve işleyişini derinlemesine inceliyor. Kitabı derleyenlerin “karşılığı parasal ücretle ödenen…özgül bir emek biçimi” olarak tanımladıkları kapitalist iş, kapitalist değer üretme ilişkilerinin genişletilmesi ve derinleştirilmesinin sürekliliğini sağlayan temel olarak ortaya konuyor. Kapitalist iş olmaksızın ne kapitalist değer üretimi ne de bu değer üretimini güvence altına alan toplumsal ilişkilerin kuruluşu mümkün olabilir. “İnsan etkinliği”nin, bütünüyle kapitalist işe dönüşmüş olması, yani ancak “parasal ücret” karşılığında kabul görür hale gelmiş olması, günümüzde kapitalist iktidar ilişkilerinin tüm toplumu tahakküm altına almış olduğunu gösterir. Kapitalist iş zararlıdır, insanı yaşatıyormuş gibi görünür ama öldürür.

El Trabajo en Debate. Una investigación de la teoría y realidad del trabajo capitalista

Herramienta, Buenos Aires, 2009

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En un mundo dominado por el trabajo capitalista, trabajar por un salario resulta una realidad inevitable de la vida moderna. Y sin embargo, la categoría trabajo permanece casi sin investigar en las ciencias sociales. Mientras el trabajo asalariado en todas sus formas, incluido el desempleo y la pobreza masiva, ha invadido todos los aspectos de la vida social, el trabajo parece haber desaparecido como la práctica que constituye la sociedad moderna. Este libro recupera de manera critica la categoría trabajo entendida como el principio constitutivo fundamental del mundo social, a través de una interpretación radical de la teoría social de Marx. Cada capítulo del libro desarrolla un tema central del Marxismo: la ‘todavía’ centralidad del trabajo (Harry Cleaver), el concepto de clase y clasificación (John Holloway), el fetichismo de la mercancía y el papel político de la clase trabajadora (Simon Clarke), clase y acumulación primitiva (Werner Bonefeld); nuevas formas de dominación a traves de la maquinaria de la nueva economía global (Massimo De Angelis), la teoría de los movimientos sociales y trabajo (Mike Neary), la importancia del poder del trabajo (Glenn Rikowski), conciencia de clase y subjetividad de la clase trabajadora (Graham Taylor), desempleo y subjetividad (Ana Cecilia Dinerstein), el significado de la utopía y las luchas anti-mundialización (Dinerstein y Neary). Los debates teóricos son ilustrados con referencia a los últimos desarrollos de movimientos sociales y laborales en Europa, Korea, México y Argentina. En breve, el libro ofrece un panorama de lo que los autores consideran los problemas prácticos y teóricos más importantes como así también los problemas y posibilidades de comprender el concepto y la realidad del trabajo en el siglo 21.