Last week, I was absolutely delighted to learn that my book Revolution and State in Modern Mexico: The Political Economy of Uneven Development (Rowman & Littlefield) was the winner of the 2012 International Political Economy Group (IPEG) Book Prize of the British International Studies Association (BISA). In recent years this has become a prestigious prize within and beyond debates in International Political Economy (IPE).
I would therefore like to extend my sincere thanks to the IPEG members that originally nominated the book and subsequently voted for it from the longlist through to the shortlist. That shortlist also included Colin Crouch, The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism (Polity); Laura Horn, Regulating Corporate Governance in the European Union: Towards a Marketization of Corporate Control (Palgrave); and Greta Krippner, Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance (Harvard University Press).
Also, I want to express my gratitude to the international panel of judges that finally deliberated in awarding the prize to me, including Ian Bruff (Loughborough University, UK), Tore Fougner (Bilkent University, Turkey), Penny Griffin (University of New South Wales, Australia), Juliet Johnson (McGill University, Canada), Phoebe Moore-Carter (University of Salford, UK), and Andreas Nölke (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany).
So what does my book offer to readers in and beyond IPE?
Significantly my argument proposes a new approach to understanding the formation of the post-revolutionary state in Mexico through the concept and condition of passive revolution as developed by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. A passive revolution can refer to various concrete historical instances in which aspects of capitalist development are either instituted and/or expanded, resulting in a contradictory combination of both ‘revolutionary’ rupture and a ‘restoration’ of social relations (see ‘What is this thing called passive revolution?’).
In a shift away from dominant interpretations, I consider the process of passive revolution and the modern Mexican state through a fresh analysis of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), the era of import substitution industrialisation, and neoliberalism. Throughout, I make interdisciplinary links among geography, political economy, postcolonialism, and Latin American studies in order to provide a new framework for analysing the development of state power in Mexico.
I also explore key processes in the contestation of the modern state, specifically through studies of the role of intellectuals, democratisation and democratic transition, and spaces of resistance. All these themes, I argue, can only be fully understood through the lens of passive revolution, referring to the ongoing class strategies and struggles that have shaped relations between state and civil society, as well as the background conditions of uneven development in Mexico and Latin America. In so doing, I contend that both the structuring condition of uneven development and the class strategies and struggles of passive revolution in Mexico and Latin America can become radical tools for political economy analysis in and beyond the region.
In announcing the winner of the IPEG Book Prize, the judges’ report on the book states that:
Revolution and State in Modern Mexico constitutes perhaps the contribution on transitions to and experiences of capitalism in Mexico, and it will be of lasting significance beyond the empirical confines of the book – not least because of the growing interest in Latin American countries among IPE scholars. Moreover, through his utilisation of non-traditional literatures Morton is an excellent ambassador for IPE’s claim to be an open, innovative and forward-looking discipline. Finally, he makes broader contributions to widespread debates on uneven development plus also on Gramsci.
Previous awardees of the IPEG Book Prize include Graham Harrison (2006) for The World Bank and Africa: The Construction of Governance States; Donald MacKenzie (2007) for An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets; Matthew Paterson (2008) for Automobile Politics: Ecology and Cultural Political Economy; William I. Robinson (2009) for Latin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective; Penny Griffin (2010) for Gendering the World Bank: Neoliberalism and the Gendered Foundations of Global Governance; and Jamie Peck (2011) for Constructions of Neoliberal Reason.
I am now looking forward to advancing beyond the arguments in Revolution and State in Modern Mexico in my new research, not least by focusing on how specific spatial practices, for example in the form of state expressions of architecture such as the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico, also clearly contribute to the construction and reproduction of the modern state in conditions of passive revolution.