Imperialism and Capitalism - Research from Journal of Contemporary Asia

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Imperialism and Capitalism in Asia

50 Years of the Journal of Contemporary Asia

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Founded in 1970, the Journal of Contemporary Asia celebrates a half-century of critical scholarship in 2020.


The Journal of Contemporary Asia was established in response to the American wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and reflected a dissatisfaction with mainstream academic studies of Asia and with the mainstream academy’s support for the USA’s imperial forays in the region. Anti-imperialism was a theme in editorials, articles and documents in early issues, with much support extended to liberation struggles in Asia. Scholarship focused on capitalism and imperialism and the urban and rural struggles against imperial adventures, capitalist development and political repression by complicit regimes in the region.

Over the years, the Journal has had to acknowledge changing politics, ideologies and social and technological transformations. While the political struggles may have changed over the decades, the focus on class, capitalism and imperialism has endured. JCA’s authors have given attention to class analysis and the development of capital, along with peasants and agriculture and workers and unions. In recent years, the focus has shifted to Asia’s location in globe-girdling capitalist value chains and the ways in which value has been extracted. The intensified exploitation of workers has also been taken up by authors examining the ways industrial location has changed and how the nature of work has altered.

This two-part virtual collection comprises a selection of articles from the Journal over its history. They are chosen for the ways in which they represent the hundreds of articles that have been collected in the Journal’s 50 volumes.

Part I, Imperialism and Capitalism, below, demonstrates that while the topics discussed may have altered over five decades, the attention to imperialism has not. In Part II, Class, Capital and Labour, class analysis is at the core of the selected articles. Related articles from the Journal’s history are also included in the virtual collection Articles from Current and Former Editors.

After five decades, the Journal continues its commitment to challenging the status quo, for society can only progress when the political, social and economic establishment is confronted. The Journal remains committed to the support of scholarship that is liberating for all and provides justice for the oppressed. This commitment was no easy task when the Journal was founded in 1970. It is no easier now. As capitalism has been embedded everywhere, there are challenges and opportunities for politically committed and progressive academic research.

— Kevin Hewison, Editor-in-Chief

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The articles below are free-access via this page until 31 December 2020.

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Next up: Part II of the 50th-anniversary collection. Access Class, Capital and Labour in Asia now from Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Journal of Contemporary Asia

An established refereed publication, Journal of Contemporary Asia has appeared quarterly since 1970. When the journal was established, it was conceived as providing an alternative to mainstream perspectives on contemporary Asian issues. The journal maintains this tradition and seeks to publish articles that deal with the broad problems of economic, political and social development of Asia. Articles on economic development issues, political economy, agriculture, planning, the working class, people’s movements, politics and power, imperialism and empire, international financial institutions, the environment, and economic history are especially welcomed. The journal also has a strong interest in the scientific development of theory that is of global significance, especially on the role of the state, class analysis, power and globalisation. An important aim of the journal has been to publish the work of Asia-based researchers, those working in best traditions of critical political economy, and young researchers.

Journal homepage 50th anniversary infographic

Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 50, Issue 2, 2020

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