Chris Wickham’s Framing the Early Middle Ages

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

While recognising the power and fundamental importance of Wickham’s Framing the Early Middle Ages, this essay explores some of the problems associated with the relative silence within the text about the issue of the forces of production and their development. By contrast, Harman suggests that Wickham’s most important contribution to our understanding of the period, his concept of a peasant-mode of production, is best understood against the backdrop of prior developments of the forces of production. Moreover, the peasant-mode’s temporality is itself best understood against the background of further developments of the forces of production.

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