Passing through difference: C.L.R. James and Henry Lefebvre

Smith, A. (2020) Passing through difference: C.L.R. James and Henry Lefebvre. Identities, 27(1), pp. 38-52. (doi: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1558880)

166232.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



This essay offers a comparative analysis of the work of Henri Lefebvre and C.L.R. James, both key contributors to the emergence of a humanist form of Marxism in the twentieth century. Independently of each other, both writers, I show, developed a mode of critique which emphasised capitalism’s dehumanizing social effects, and which rejected a merely instrumental or utilitarian political response. Consequently, both writers placed critical emphasis on those longings and demands made evident in the insurgent politics of everyday life and popular culture; in what both conceptualised as a search for ‘happiness‘. But at the same time, the comparison is important because it makes evident the extent of the divisive intellectual legacies of empire within European Marxism. Lefebvre’s work bears in itself the marks of a racialised understanding of human relations; the ’human’ of which he speaks is limited in ways that James challenged consistently.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor Andrew
Authors: Smith, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Identities
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1547-3384
Published Online:20 December 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Author
First Published:First published in Identities 27(1): 38-52
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
592091Understanding the changes in ethnic relations: understanding the dynamics of ethnicity, identity and inequality in the uk.Satnam VirdeeEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/K002198/1SPS - SOCIOLOGY