Title Dead Labor
Subtitle Toward a Political Economy of Premature Death
Author James Tyner
ISBN 9781517903633
List price GBP 19.99
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 200
Book size 140 x 216 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher University of Minnesota Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“We know that many workers must sell their labor power in order to live. James Tyner reminds us that many of them will die doing so. He forces us to think again on what exploitation really means: capitalism kills—not metaphorically, but really kills. And it does not kill just anybody, but those whose deaths promise a higher return than their lives. Important and profoundly unsettling, Dead Labor is proof that political economy can be gut-wrenching.”

Geoff Mann, author of In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy, and Revolution


“James Tyner has pushed a complicated set of ideas with clarifying precision and helped to embody the valuation of life and death through this sophisticated and timely book. That premature death is so abundantly on display in the 21st century means this book should be required reading for anybody interested in the political economy of life itself.”

Nik Heynen, University of Georgia


A groundbreaking consideration of death from capitalism, from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century

From a 2013 Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed fifteen people and injured 252 to a 2017 chemical disaster in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we are confronted all too often with industrial accidents that reflect the underlying attitude of corporations toward the lives of laborers and others who live and work in their companies’ shadows. Dead Labor takes seriously the myriad ways in which bodies are commodified and profits derived from premature death. In doing so it provides a unique perspective on our understanding how life and death drive the twenty-first-century global economy.

James Tyner tracks a history from the 1600s through which premature death and mortality became something calculable, predictable, manageable, and even profitable. Drawing on a range of examples, including the criminalization of migrant labor, medical tourism, life insurance, and health care, he explores how today we can no longer presume that all bodies undergo the same processes of life, death, fertility, and mortality. He goes on to develop the concept of shared mortality among vulnerable populations and examines forms of capital exploitation that have emerged around death and the reproduction of labor.

Positioned at the intersection of two fields—the political economy of labor and the philosophy of mortality—Dead Labor builds on Marx’s notion that death (and truncated life) is a constant factor in the processes of labor. Considering premature death also as a biopolitical and bioeconomic concept, Tyner shows how racialized and gendered bodies are exposed to it in unbalanced ways within capitalism, and how bodies are then commodified, made surplus and redundant, and even disassembled in order to accumulate capital.



Chapter 1. Living Labor

Chapter 2. Commodified Labor

Chapter 3. Surplus Labor 

Chapter 4. Redundant Labor 

Chapter 5. Disassembled Bodies 

Postscript: From Premature Death to Truncated Life




About the Author:

James Tyner is professor of geography at Kent State University. His books include War, Violence, and Population: Making the Body Count, winner of the Meridian Book Award from the American Association of Geographers.

Target Audience:

This book is useful for people interested in political economy, labor studies, philosophy and sociology.


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