MR editor John Bellamy Foster’s The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology was the recipient of the Paul Sweezy Outstanding Book Award of the Section on Marxist Sociology of the American Sociological Association for 2022, presented at the ASA conference in Los Angeles in August. The Section on Marxist Sociology read the following statement at the American Sociological Association reception at the time of the award’s presentation:
The winner of the 2022 Paul Sweezy Marxist Sociology Book Award is John Bellamy Foster’s The Return of Nature, which offers an in-depth historical analysis of how Marx’s open, dialectical, materialist analysis has been engaged and developed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in debates focused on gender, race, and environment.
The Return of Nature is a rich, fascinating narrative, demonstrating the broad range of people and historical circumstances that contributed to an integrated socioecological analysis. Foster reveals how socialism, the critique of capital, and Marxism in general have been central to the development of ecology as a science. These deep materialist roots provide a rich tradition on which to build.
The Return of Nature is a crowning achievement in Foster’s career, greatly enhancing Marx’s scholarship as a whole. This award also doubles as something of a lifetime achievement award for Foster. In 2000, he published Marx’s Ecology. This work transformed both Marxist scholarship and environmental sociology. It established a strong foundation for ecological Marxism, revealing Marx’s materialist conception of nature and history, metabolic analysis, and ecological critique of capitalism. In 2000, it was the co-winner of the Sweezy Award. Today, some 22 years later, we recognize Foster’s continued excellence in field-defining research.