Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A conference I'm organizing. . .

Recent crises in global capitalism have functioned, as crises often do, to reveal the historical contours of the present, providing new opportunities to read history against the grain and to unsettle established assumptions. This call for papers proposes that as our economies enter a period of potentially profound structural transformation, it is all the more necessary to examine the relationship between the economic mode of production and cultural and social forms in the period after WWII.

We seek work that brings together analysis of the modes of economic accumulation which have characterized the last 60 years—their actors, institutions, histories, and structures—with analysis of the forms of subjectivity, ideology, culture, and resistance they have produced and been produced from. How have attempts within sociology, geography, political science, and history to explain the economic transformations of the 70s influenced accounts of cultural forms before and after this shift? Where do accounts of the novel, of poetry, of film, of visual art, and of architecture stand in relation to broader economic and political histories? How does work in sociology, cultural studies, and anthropology on the collectivities and cultures of economic production—from day traders to migrant workers—negotiate the relationship between subject and structure? How can consideration of economic processes like risk management, collateralization, foreign and consumer debt structuring, privatization, and data collection give us access to related transformations in national security, war, and neoimperialism? What has been the social or cultural effect of new forms of labor, including not only new modes of “immaterial” knowledge work but also the labor being done in sweatshops and maquiladoras? Other potential topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: cultural globalization and uneven development; anti-capitalist social movements; experiments with value in literature and the arts; the management, exploitation, or creation of risk; other capitals (cultural, social) or other economies (symbolic, affective, libidinal, spectacular); financialization and culture; class contradiction and conflict in literature and the arts; technological transformations in economy and culture; race, gender, or sexuality and the economic.

We hope this conference will provide an opportunity for dialogue between all participants of the sort often not possible at larger conferences. As such, we will not schedule panels concurrently, and request that papers presented not exceed 20 minutes so that each panel is followed by ample time for Q&A. All panels and events will be free and open to the public and accepted participants are expected to attend as many panels as possible to enable a sustained conversation over the 2 days of the conference. On Friday, March 6th we will feature a keynote presentation by New York University Professor of Art and Public Policy Randy Martin, whose most recent books include The Financialization of Everyday Life and An Empire of Indifference: American War and the Financial Logic of Risk Management, searingly critical and engaged interdisciplinary accounts of how life is lived, war fought, and ideology sustained within a financialized present.

Paper proposals should be no more than 600 words (1-2 pages double spaced) and should be accompanied by a brief cover letter—this letter may, if applicable, give a sense of any larger project from which the proposed paper emerges, list other conferences or symposia in which the submitter has participated, and provide any other useful information. Proposals and cover letters should be submitted via email to imwgconference@gmail.com as attached documents by Monday, December 1st and all accepted presenters will receive their invitations to participate no later than January 1st. One or two meals will be provided by conference organizers and if housing costs are a prohibitive burden, arrangements for housing with local participants can potentially be arranged. This conference is designed to be an opportunity for current graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, although beginning independent scholars and writers may submit proposals as well.

This event is organized by the Interdisciplinary Marxism Working Group, a group which has, for the last ten years, provided an opportunity for graduate students, faculty, and others to read and discuss together works of both classical and contemporary Marxism and to frame those conversations around interdisciplinary—historical, structural, and theoretical—concerns. The conference is additionally funded by the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and affiliated departments and groups across UC Berkeley.

Deadline for proposals: Monday, December 1st

Email address for proposal submission: imwgconference@gmail.com

Conference date: Friday March 6-Saturday March 7, 2009

Contacts for conference co-organizers: Jasper Bernes (bernes@berkeley.edu) & Annie McClanahan (ajmcc@berkeley.edu)

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