CFP: Historical Materialism Annual Conference, November 10-13, 2016

Posted by on May 4, 2016
CFP: Historical Materialism Annual Conference, November 10-13, 2016


London, 10-13 November 2016


Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 June 2016

All queries:

Please find below the following CFPs

  1. Annual Conference General: Limits, Barriers and Borders
  2. One-Day Themed Conference: The Limits to Capital and the Limits to Nature
  3. Stream: Marxist-Feminist stream: Environment, Nature and Technologies
  4. Stream: The Politics of Identity 
  5. Stream: (Re-)Conceptualising Marxist Theories of Racism 
  6. Stream: Latin America and Marxism(s)
  7. Stream: Marxism and Sexualities 

 Abstracts should be between 250 and 350 words. Panels should include abstracts for all individual presentations.

Important notice on the structure of the Call For Papers for this year:

As previously we are including a general CFP alongside specific streams (see 3-7). Papers and pre-constituted panels are welcome in both cases. When submitting to a specific stream you should also give notice of your submission to their organizers (via email, as noted in the CFPs below).

The One-Day themed conference will take place during the main event.

In ALL cases papers must be submitted to the main website (the link will be live after May 5) clearly making evident in your proposal if your paper belongs to a specific stream and/or panel.

Second important announcement: all participants are expected to make every reasonable effort to participate in the whole of the conference and be able to have their paper at any slot therein. Any absolutely imperative reasons why you cannot speak on day X or Y or at time X or Y MUST BE COMMUNICATED TO US WHEN THE ABSTRACT IS SUBMITTED as we WILL NOT be making last minute changes to the timetable as in previous years. Participants are also expected to be actually able to participate in the conference when they submit their abstracts. Of course, medical emergencies or visa denials cannot be predicted, but all other cases of last minute withdrawals cause us unnecessary stress and create chaotic conditions for a final timetable.


  1. Annual Conference General CFPLimits, Barriers and Borders

In the Grundrisse, Marx diagnosed the effort to turn unsurpassable limits into transcendable barriers as one of capital’s defining features, what permitted it either to avert crises or to employ them to its own advantage. Ecological critique and activism is increasingly identifying the endurance of capitalist imperatives as a limit of a different kind, a limit on the reproducibility of human livelihoods, a limit both to and of nature, which is not necessarily a limit to capital. HM 2016 seeks to address from a multiplicity of angles the question of the relationships between the limits and barriers of capital and those of its human and non-human “others”. Or: its limits and ours, their barriers and ours. How does Marxist theory address the so-called ‘spatial turn’ and various geographies of capital? We hope to investigate the theoretical and practical challenges to capital’s increasingly disastrous or desultory forms of crisis-management, from the COP21 agreements on climate change to the sinister responses to mass migration and civil war. We hope that this theme of limits will not be taken simply in a systemic sense – as the limits to capital, or to nature, or to the capitalist state, etc. – but also in a strategic one, as an occasion to reflect on the limits (or barriers) of current socialist, communist and emancipatory political movements. From public outcries against financial scandals to the rise of populist anti-elitism, are movements redrawing the limits of politics?

HM 2016 welcomes papers addressing the question of capital’s limits, barriers and borders and their relation to Marxist theory and anti-capitalist politics. Though we envisage it as a theme running throughout the conference, we will devote a day to the critical question of the relation between the limits to capital and the limits to nature (see separate CFP) below. We continue to welcome papers on ALL general topics of interest to readers of Historical Materialism, but also encourage papers on the following themes:

  • Limits and borders: the migration ‘crisis’, the European state-system and racism
  • Social reproduction, the reproduction of capital and the reproduction of nature
  • Historical-materialist geography and the limits to capital
  • ‘Marx in his limits’: Marxist traditions of theoretical self-criticism
  • Environmental racism
  • Feminism and the limits to capital
  • ‘Race’ and the limits to capital
  • Art, aesthetics, culture and the limits to capital
  • Marxist aesthetics and ecology
  • Ecological Marxism and crisis theory
  • The law and ethics of capital’s borders
  • The geographies of finance capital


  1. One-Day Themed Conference CFP:  The Limits to Capital and the Limits to Nature

Notwithstanding the ritual self-congratulation of global elites over recent agreements to restrain global warming, the incompatibility between capitalist imperatives of accumulation and the urgent need to respond to multiple ecological emergencies is patent. In the domains of academia and popular discourse, much is made of the designation of our present as the ‘Anthropocene’, the era of mankind’s promotion to the status of geological agent. Historical materialism has long cast corrosive doubt on mystifying fables of united human agency – beyond class, gender or race. At this year’s annual Historical Materialism conference we want to explore the way in which thinking through global warming and accelerating ecological degradation has posed a challenge to contemporary Marxist theory, demanding a critical application and reconstruction of classical categories of historical and materialist analysis. How can Marxists think the entanglement of the history of class struggles and the history of ecological transformation? In what sense is capital to be understood as an ecological and geological agent? What concepts of ‘nature’ and of the relationship between the natural and the social is adequate to thinking our present? What can a critical Marxist theory of the relation between the limits to capital and the limits to nature contribute to contemporary movements for social and environmental justice?
We welcome papers in the general areas of:

  • Nature and ecology in historical materialism and critical Marxist theory
  • Radical social movements and ecological politics (feminism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, anarchism, radical environmentalism)
  • Marxist analyses and responses to ecological crisis


  1. Stream: Marxist Feminist stream CFP: Environment, Nature and Technologies

Feminism has had much to say about capitalism’s impact on the environment and the appropriation of nature by man (sic). Feminists have examined how the enclosure of land has been integral to capitalist accumulation and how capitalism has sought to present ‘women’s work’ as a ‘natural’ outcome of woman’s ‘nature’. More broadly, feminists have examined and opposed the very identification of woman with nature, spearheading the critique of the culture/nature divide, patterned upon and replicating the hierarchy of the male/female binary—a binary that has been troubled by queer/LGBT struggles against naturalised conceptions of sexuality. Other strands of feminist thought have highlighted a de-colonising process of nature and the feminine, implying that a suppressed authenticity could be recovered in the process of overthrowing capitalist patriarchy. In short, analysis of nature and the environment has been a rich, multi-layered vein in much feminist thought, including in Marxist feminism.

Such critiques comprise the complex legacy of second-wave feminism – a legacy whose relationship to Marxist feminism is itself a subject of critique. Developments within global capitalism and the struggles against it as well as against the rule of capital at large demand that contemporary Marxist feminism re-visit, re-evaluate and update these critiques with the aim of building transformative, continuous, active resistance. The Marxist feminist stream of the Historical Materialism London conference 2016 invites proposals for panels and papers that negotiate these critiques, broadly interpreted.

Key questions that we hope panels and papers will address include:

  • What does ‘the environment’ mean for Marxist feminism in the 21stcentury?
  • Can there be a differentiation between a natural environment and human life or does capital increasingly achieve its gains by overcoming precisely this distinction?
  • What is the relationship between technology, gender and class?
  • What progress has been made in the critique of racialised ‘women’s work’, given the persistent naturalisation of ‘race’ in the social imaginary?
  • What Marxist feminist positions on the common/s are available and can contemporary Marxist feminism expand understandings of the common/s beyond traditional identifications with land and nature or, conversely, technology-dominated spaces?
  • How can Marxist feminism conceive of the environment ‘in the expanded field’, as the space and time of revolutionary connectivity?

We are particularly interested in creating a space for interweaving analysis of nature and the environment with the wider themes explored in the Marxist feminist stream of the HM conference since its launch in 2011. These include (but are not limited to): social reproduction feminism; households; domestic, care and biologically reproductive labour; unfree labour; capitalism and sexuality; and anti-racist, anti-colonial Marxist feminisms. That is, proposals need not be limited to feminist thinking on the destruction of the natural environment by capitalism, per se, but may also seek to trouble or develop an expanded understanding and notion of  ‘the environment’ as such.

We look forward to receiving your paper and panel proposals. Please submit via the main 2016 Historical Materialism London submission website. When submitting, please clearly indicate that your proposal is for the Marxist-Feminist stream.

Marxist Feminist stream conveners: Angela Dimitrakaki, Sara Farris, Sue Ferguson, Genevieve LeBaron, Nina Power, Alan Sears.


  1. The Politics of Identity

The charged phrase “identity politics” has come to encompass a range of ideas and activities under the rubric of either broadening, or developing alternatives to, class-centric analyses of power. Criticisms of identity politics have historically been narrow and economistic, with the tension being framed thus far as a cleavage between the class reductionism of vulgar Marxism and the individualism of vulgar culturalism. This special issue positions itself as an intervention into conversations within Marxist traditions.

The term “identity politics” has often carried pejorative connotations, and many prefer to identify with “liberation politics”. Identity/liberation politics has allowed for self-organisation, and this played a critical role in carving out spaces for movements of colour, in anti-colonial revolutions, feminist struggles, and in queer liberation movements. These spaces have also been places where the intersecting, mutually reinforcing nature of these identity categories have been theorised. The moment at which we are making this intervention is one in which the rhetoric of “safe spaces”, “privilege”, and positionality politics permeates liberatory discourse and social movements – the question is now one of usefulness and their radical potential.

While these approaches have built new avenues into revolutionary politics and self-determination, emphasizing an understanding of oppressions as social relations, they have also been charged with reducing collective struggles to individualism and essentialism. These pitfalls erode the possibility of solidaristic links and hinder the broader aim of movement building. Further, identity politics has been accused of reproducing the power of capital and the state, and reinforcing the very categories they ostensibly seek to dismantle.

Some of the questions we are concerned with include (but are not limited to): Why has identity politics become so appealing amongst self-understood radical circles? What are the social, political and historical processes behind identity politics being co-opted by neoliberal and statist discourses, while simultaneously providing multiple avenues into revolutionary politics? Does identity-based organising have any radical capacity, and is there a way in which it can be mobilised to generate solidarity and resistance?  How have feminist, queer and anti-racist movements moved away from the goal of the abolition of race and gender, and turned to social mobility? What might the abolition of identitarian categories of oppression look like as an emancipatory project?  What does it mean for class to be mobilised as an identity? What is the relationship between intersectionality and identity politics? In what ways do resistance to identity-based oppressions coalesce with struggles against the hegemony of the capitalist state?

In particular, we encourage contributors to engage with Marxist traditions from multiple standpoints, while complicating what it is that is conceptualised as ‘identity’ itself. What does it mean for a movement to be labelled as “identity politics”? Does working class identity being racialised as white, and gendered as male, shield it from the critiques commonly made of identity politics as sectarian and divisive?  Can we accurately describe union meetings a ‘safe space’ from the bosses? Why have subaltern struggles been largely seen as identity-based, and the material bases of their resistance under-emphasised? And finally, how might the traditional left’s dismissal of particular movements as ‘identity politics’ act as a form of self-preservation?

This CFP reproduces the one for papers for a special issue of HM.

Organisers: Ashok Kumar (QMUL), Shruti Iyer (KCL), Dalia Gebrial (Oxford), Ash Sarkar (UCL), Adam Elliott-Cooper (Oxford)

Areas of interests include (but not limited to):

  • Identity Politics versus a Politics of Liberation
  • Praxis of Solidarity and Identity Politics
  • Radical Critiques of Intersectionality
  • Identity Politics As/Against Neoliberalism
  • Identity Politics and Radical Social Movements
  • Identity Politics, Capital and Empire
  • Performativity in areas of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Gender Identity
  • Privilege Politics and Solidarity
  • Radical Critiques of Cultural Appropriation
  • Safer Spaces and the Politics of Comfort
  • Identity Politics, Innocence and the Carceral State
  • Critiques of Personhood Trauma Politics
  • Recovering Subaltern Studies as Anti-Capitalist  Resistance
  • Transnational Gentrification Discourses
  • Victimhood, Security and the State
  • Micoaggressions and Social Relations
  • Trigger Warnings, Trauma, and the State
  • Queer theory, capitalism, & the couple form
  • Homonationalism
  • Anti-Muslim Racism
  • Reparations & class-based demands
  • Europeanness & economic crisis
  • Whiteness, white fragility and European fascism
  • Anti-colonial struggles and Identity Politics


  1. (Re-)Conceptualising Marxist Theories of Racism

Only some years after post-racialism attempted, with one stroke of a pen, to declare racist oppression a thing of the past, contemporary racism seems to be more pervasive than ever in recent history. As Europe and the United States witness the rise of populist political movements with overt racist agendas, increasing anti-migrant, anti-Muslim, and antisemitic rhetoric has been accompanied by a wave of enforced discrimination and violence. In Europe, racist street violence against refugee housing have become a feature of everyday life while lethal police violence in the US is wreaking havoc within black communities.

In the light of these developments the lack of mass anti-racist movements in the West, particularly in Europe, is as striking as it is disastrous. With regard to the economic depression and austerity policies that have contributed to the revitalisation of popular racism, the weakness of anti-racism also hints at important shortcomings within left politics. These shortcomings, we contend, are in part the result of key problems within Marxist theory.

Historically, classical Marxism all too often reduced racism to an ideological weapon deployed by ruling elites to weaken the multi-ethnic working class. Claiming that racism would disappear with the establishment of a socialist society, such an account had the strategic effect of subsuming or ignoring, and sometimes actively opposing, demands by racialised minorities within the workers and other social movements. More recent contributions, on the contrary, increasingly recognize the complex interplay of race and class, including how class comes to be lived through racialising identifications. In examining, for example, the racist elements in historical working class and socialist formations, scholars have emphasized the capacity of racism to act as a form of social cement binding parts of the working class to their ruling elites and thereby contributing to the maintenance and consolidation of capitalist rule.

In light of the manifold manifestations of contemporary racism, and its reverberations in academic discourses, a systematic inquiry into the concept and theory of racism seems timely. While the Black Lives Matter movement challenges the notion of a post-racial America, anti-Muslim agitation in Europe and the United States is not solely based on the identity logics of race, but clings to traditional patterns of cultural racism. This concomitance of `racism without racists’ (as the perpetuation of racial discrimination in supposedly colour-blind societies) and `racism without races’ (as the essentialisation of cultural markers of difference) has inspired a diverse echo in social and political sciences, ranging from the renaissance of genetic (‘biosocial’) arguments to transhistorical models of racialisation.

Against this background, the conference stream wants to address crucial issues of contemporary racism analysis from a Marxist perspective. We invite paper proposals that attempt to sharpen our collective theoretical understanding of racism by:

– investigating the socio-historical preconditions for the emergence of racism and its reproduction;

– reassessing the insights as well as shortcomings of past and present Marxist approaches to the problem of racism;

– examining the various modalities of racism, including, but not limited to race, culture, religion to understand their conceptual relationship to each other and to racism more broadly;

– scrutinising the theoretical relationship of racism to other forms of social exclusion and oppression, particularly its intersections with relations of gender and sexuality;

– elaborating on the relationship of racism to the cohesion and reproduction of capitalist societies

– discussing the structural and institutional elements of racism and its reproduction in everyday social practices;

– compiling a historical record and analysis of contemporary anti-racist movements;

– developing theoretical frameworks for understanding the relationship of anti-racism to class struggle and left politics more broadly.

Organisers: Stefanie Affeldt, Malte Hinrichsen, Wulf D. Hund, Felix Lösing, Benjamin Opratko, Satnam Virdee


  1. Latin America and Marxism(s) 

Now in its third year, we announce a Call for Abstracts for the stream on Latin American Marxism(s) which will take place in the Historical Materialism XIII Annual Conference, to be held in London, on 10-13 of November,  2016. The aim of this call is to put together a series of papers and panels based on Latin American Marxism(s) broadly conceived. In this sense, the proposal is open to philosophical, historical, economic, geographical, literary, and/or political approaches related to Marxist practices and/or theories in Latin America.

In terms of subjects and contents, the stream is open to any relevant proposal that approaches Latin America (or any of its discrete realities) from Marxist perspectives. We suggest the following topics as orientations to the potential contributors, albeit this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Colonialism, imperialism and post-colonialism.
  • The end of the ‘pink tide’ and the return of neoliberal policies.
  • Latin American materialities: sounds, visions, and words.
  • Made in Latin America: conceptual contributions to global Marxism.
  • Connected histories, crossed readings: Marxism from/to Latin America.
  • Spanish Marxisms: reading Marxists from Spain and Hispanic-America.
  • Neo-extractivism and geographies of uneven development: capital accumulation and class-formation.

We ask for 300-word abstracts by 1 June 2016. When sending your abstract, please state in the subject heading of the e-mail both “Latin American Marxism panel” and the general area relevant to your paper (i.e. economics, philosophy, etc.). Please also include your institutional affiliation and correspondence e-mail address as part of the abstract. We will then collate all accepted proposals and organize them into panels, contacting the authors of non-accepted abstracts with a personal e-mail of explanation.

Proposals should be sent to Irina Feldman (, and Felipe Lagos (, as well as through the Historical Materialism website.


  1. Marxism, Sexuality and Political Economy

The Sexuality and Political Economy network, affiliated to Historical Materialism (HM), invite paper/panel proposals for a stream of panels at HM London 2016 on the theme of Marxism, Sexuality and Political Economy.

The second half of the 20th Century has seen the emergence of legislative, legal and political change towards the relative legitimation of LGBTQI sexual identities and relationships (to different degrees in different parts of the globe). These changes have taken through a period of economic crisis for social democratic states and a resurgence of neo-liberalism. The character of this legitimation has been an identarian politics, driven by a politics of recognition focused on legal change and protests against violence and inequality. The achievements of this political change cannot be underestimated in their impact on LGBTQI lives, and bares contrast with parts of the globe where sexual rights and justice are still highly contested and persecution and structural inequalities persist. Nevertheless, the terms of contemporary LGBTQI politics presents challenges for those who think legal equality and civil recognition are not the end of the journey.

Commodification is a core constituent of sexual space and place, making consumption and the market key and causal features in its development. Sexual tolerance might be described as being driven by and beneficial to advanced capitalist political economies. There is evidence that notwithstanding legal and civil measures of equality in some parts of the globe, there is still structural inequalities based on culture and economic stratifications. There remain racial, gendered, class and other forms of prejudice, pathology and exclusion within sexual communities, and identitarian politics has focused around LGBTQI issues (to different extents and with relative inclusions and exclusions). Homonormativity  and heteronationalism have been subject to critique as representing an accommodation with rather than a fundamental challenge to heteronormativity. In the Global South and across the globe, there is still violence and prejudice against those who are sexually different.

Papers are sought that explore those themes and enrich our understanding of the political economy of sexuality from a Marxist perspective, under these broad categories:

  • Commodification, Consumption and Sexual Space
  • Commodification, Consumption and Homonormativity in neo-Liberal Contexts
  • The Market, Capitalism and Sexual Rights and Justice
  • Queer Labour, Queer Capital
  • Marxism, sexuality studies, feminism and political economy
  • Queer Intersections and political economy
  • Sexual political economy in global contexts
  • The political economy of trans and intersex
  • Capitalism, class and the terms of queer resistance
  • Sexual dimensions of gendered capitalism as a mode of social production and reproduction
  • Imperialist and Colonial interventions, Islamophobia, homonationalism and pinkwashing the sexual dynamics of capitalist restoration in China
  • Globalising the dialogues between Sexuality, political economy and Marxism

Paper should be submitted to the HM conference website in the normal fashion but clearly marked in the submission title MSPEN in order to be considered for these panels. The deadline for submissions in June 1st. Queries and questions can be sent to Paul Reynolds (

Organisers: Holly Lewis (Texas); Nat Raha (Sussex); Paul Reynolds (Edge Hill/HM Editorial Board); Alan Sears (Ryerson)