16 Tons
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17 Tons: Memory as practice
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Accumulation
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Raqs Media Collective

Founded in 1992 in New Delhi, India, by Jeebesh Bagchi (b.1965), Monica Narcula (b.1969) and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b. 1968)

The Capital of Accumulation, 2010 Video diptych, 50 min. 

Rosa Luxemburg’s contribution to social theory lies in having shown that capitalist accumulation depends on the appropriation of the resources coming from nature and “from all corners of the earth, seizing them, if necessary by force, from all levels of civilization and from all forms of society” (Luxemburg 2003:338). Her redefinition of global economic process as “a relationship between capital and a non-capitalist environment” (ibid 398) inspired this video essay by the Raqs Media Collective. Exploring Berlin, Warsaw and Bombay/Mumbai, the video reflects on Luxemburg’s legacy (as well as on the uncertain fate of her dead body) and testifies to the continuing process of scavenging by which capitalism effectively tramples the globe. Insights that surface in the film such as “Can the relations that we desire be written in terms of addition and subtraction?/ Can a factory die in one place and be born in another?” lead toward a new sensory epistemology where factories are reincarnated, affects redefine the idea of gross product, and the abundance of capitalism is a pale shadow of the exuberance of life and desire. Thoughts like these gesture toward an as-yet unwritten treatise called The Capital of Accumulation, which the RAQS brew from out of a long and devoted familiarity with Luxemburg that can be traced back to the abridged version published in Delhi by Kamunist Kranti in 1990, a leftwing student group that included one of the members of RAQS. CM