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Arab–Latin American Business Elites and the Politics of Global Imaginaries
by Kevin Funk
Published by: Indiana University Press
Does the concept of nationality apply to the economic elite, or have they shed national identities to form a global capitalist class?
In Rooted Globalism, Kevin Funk unpacks dozens of ethnographic interviews he conducted with Latin America's urban-based, Arab-descendant elite class, some of whom also occupy positions of political power in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Based on extensive fieldwork, Funk illuminates how these elites navigate their Arab ancestry, Latin American host cultures, and roles as protagonists of globalization. With the term "rooted globalism," Funk captures the emergence of classed intersectional identities that are simultaneously local, national, transnational, and global.
Focusing on an oft-ignored axis of South-South relations (between Latin America and the Arab world), Rooted Globalism provides detailed analysis of the identities, worldviews, and motivations of this group and ultimately reveals that rather than obliterating national identities, global capitalism relies on them.
Introduction: Capitalism and Class in Global Latin America
1. Progress and Lacunae in the Study of the "Global Capitalist Class"
2. How Latin America Met the Arab World
3. The Tradition of Dead Generations: On the Persistence of Place-Based Longings
4. Rootless Globalists? On Denationalization and Globality
5. "The Flat Pluralist World of Business Class": On Constructing (and Contesting) Corporate Global Imaginaries
Conclusion: The Future of Global Imaginaries: Thinking Beyond Nativism and Neoliberal Propaganda
Kevin Funk is a fellow in the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, where he is also a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and an affiliated faculty member of the Institute of Latin American Studies.
"Kevin Funk's Rooted Globalism challenges the ubiquitous claim that leading capitalists have mentally divorced themselves from the nation-state as they congeal into a placeless hegemonic class with a global consciousness. Funk interviewed dozens of leading capitalists in South America and finds that the identities of these global actors intersect with ethnicity, race, family and ancestral ties, migration histories, nationality, and geography to generate an empirical class consciousness that he calls "rooted globalism." Funk concludes that the borderless one-world theme articulated by transnational corporations and corporate elites is more of a political strategy to intimidate state elites than an accurate representation of their empirical class consciousness. This pathbreaking book will interest scholars in Latin American politics and political economy, but it is a must read for anyone interested in the relationship between globalization, class formation, and the state. "~Clyde W. Barrow, author of The Dangerous Class, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
"Critics of neoliberal capitalism often make a common mistake: imagining elites as global actors, who also understand themselves as such. Rooted Globalism—rich in theoretical insight and drawn from detailed interviews of Latin American elites—destabilizes this assumption. Kevin Funk demonstrates that the lived worlds of elites are not simply extensions of "global" capitalism's material logics. Instead, capitalism is always cultural, elites are rooted in places and states, and capitalism is far from coherently hegemonic."~Isaac Kamola, author of Making the World Global: US Universities and the Production of the Global Imaginary, Trinity College
"The intricacies of class formation in Latin America have been the object of a long tradition of critical scholarship, which tends to focus on the legacies of slavery, indigenous genocide, colonialism, and the weakness of national ruling classes. Kevin Funk brings a breath of fresh air to the field with this very original book about the "rooted globalism" of Arab-Latin American elites. Beyond presenting a wealth of new empirical research on a hitherto relatively neglected social group, the book makes a distinctive theoretical contribution to transnational class studies, challenging commonly held beliefs about the lack of local and cultural roots of transnational elites."~Felipe Antunes de Oliveira, Queen Mary University of London
"Rooted Globalism offers an incisive intervention to grasp the complex identity of the international upper class under neoliberal capitalism in the twenty-first century, evinced by unprecedented inequality. In this book Kevin Funk offers an original account of the converging and diverging forces comprising the world's capitalist class. This book uncovers the nature of the global capitalist class and the deepening global divide which threatens humanity."~Immanuel Ness, author of Organizing Insurgency, City University of New York
"Rooted Globalism traces the complicated political entanglements and economic ambitions of a Latin American elite of Arab origin. Relying on direct access to key protagonists, Funk's analysis of these South-South business linkages is nuanced, theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich. A key contribution to studies of the networked global capitalist class, Funk's book is also a must read for anyone with interest in the evolution of Latin American-Middle East relations, South-South linkages, and international political economy more broadly."~Omar Dahi, coauthor of South–South Trade and Finance in the Twenty-First Century, Hampshire College
"Going against the tide that sees global elites inexorably marching towards a rootless globality, Kevin Funk persuasively demonstrates how Latin American economic elites of Arab descent see themselves as transnational beings of a hybrid Arab-Latin space and how they mobilize this perceived cultural capital for profit within both regions. Rooted Globalism is a vital contribution not only for scholars interested in Arab-Latin American relations, but also for those engaged in critical diaspora studies, South-South relations, identity politics and the role of Southern elites in the future of global capitalism."~Silvia Ferabolli, author of Arab Regionalism, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
"Has the ruling class of today's global capitalist system really gone global? Do they share a global worldview or consciousness? Critically probing such crucial questions to understanding our contemporary capitalist dystopia, Rooted Globalism obliterates long-held arguments regarding the existence of a nationless capitalist class imbued with a common global identity. In examining what capitalists actually think and say, the book deftly melds fine-grained empirical research with theoretical rigor in new and innovative ways."~Alexander Anievas, author of Capital, the State, and War, University of Connecticut
"Offered as a contribution to critical, transdisciplinary global studies on the question of global capitalism and with a heavy literature review of foundational and recent works in the field, Rooted Globalism focuses on a specific group of Arab–Latin American trade leaders and business elites in the Southern Cone, specifically in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile."~E. Hu-DeHart, Brown University, Choice