Nonhuman labour, encounter value, spectacular accumulation: the geographies of a lively commodity

08 May 2018

This paper maps into geographies of ‘lively commodities’, commodities whose value derives from their status as living beings. In an era where life itself has become a locus of capitalist accumulation, picking apart the category of ‘liveliness’ underpinning commodification has important analytical and geographical stakes. To this end, by tracking historical geographies of commodifying lions in political economies of ecotourism in India, this paper shows how more-than-human labour and lively potentials affect commodification and influence accumulation, not simply through recalcitrance, but as active participants within political economic organisation. The paper advances and develops a triad of relational concepts – nonhuman labour, encounter value, spectacular accumulation – through which the political economic potency of lively commodities might be articulated and grasped. It concludes by discussing the analytical potential of this approach and its future purchase for rethinking commodity geographies.