Archive for September, 2010


Call for Papers: Examining the Relevance of Marx and Marxism to Contemporary Global Society Newcastle University, 29th and 30th of January 2011

Rationale, Outline and Aims: The 21st century has so far seen US-led military interventions, global financial crises, identity conflicts, terrorism on a grand scale, environmental disasters and fraught industrial/labour relations. These dramatic events have challenged the notion of an ‘end to history’ and the widespread belief that the collapse of the Soviet Union has made Marx and Marxism irrelevant. With growing instability in the social, political and economic functioning of human societies, we wish to examine the relevance of Marx to contemporary global society.

In order to do this, Global Discourse (www.global-discourse.com) is organising a two-day conference at Newcastle University on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of January 2011. The aims of the event are: – to examine the relevance and application of Marxian, Marxist, Neo-Marxist and Post-Marxist thought to contemporary issues. – to reassess scriptural and doctrinal commitments within various ‘Marxisms’. – to facilitate interdisciplinary, inter-paradigmatic discourse on a range of contemporary issues.

 Keynote Papers The keynote talks will be given by Prof Norman Geras, author of Marx and Human Nature, whose paper will relate to the general theme, ‘What does it mean to be Marxist?’, and Prof Stuart Sim, author of Post-Marxism: An Intellectual History, whose paper will discuss Post-Marxism, ‘Post- or Past-?: Does Post-Marxism Have Any Future?’.

Deadlines and Publishing Process Please submit abstracts of proposed papers by September 30th 2010. We encourage the submission of panel proposals, which should be accompanied by abstracts of the proposed papers.

 We will evaluate the abstracts and circulate a list of accepted papers and panels by October 4th 2010. Authors whose abstracts have been accepted must submit their papers in full by December 1st 2010. Papers will be circulated to participants prior to the conference. Selected papers will be independently peer-reviewed for inclusion in the special issue of Global Discourse due out in February 2011. We welcome replies to these papers, developed through discussion at the conference or otherwise, which we shall publish alongside the full articles subject to moderation. We aim to publish a collected edition in print based on these papers.

Please submit all abstracts, papers and panel proposals to the editors at editor@global-discourse.com.

Topics Possible topics for papers include: – What does it mean to be Marxist? – Marxism and conceptualising the political subject: from orthodox Marxism to Post-Marxism – Education: hegemony, emancipation and mental labour – Science, meta-ethics and normativity – Gender, sexuality and identity politics – The state in global capitalism: ‘withering’, transcendence and expansion – Marxism and culture – Technology – Non-Western societies and imperialism – Latin American social and political movements – Free markets, free labour and industrial relations

Please contact us well in advance of September 1st should you require clarification as to the appropriateness of your chosen topic or wish to convene a panel.

Costs: There will be no conference fee. A lunch buffet and refreshments will be provided free of charge. An optional evening conference meal on Saturday 29th of January will be held at a nearby restaurant. We will seek to organise a special rate for the meal and will circulate details in due course. Participants shall bear the cost of their meal.

Places: There will be space for 40 paper-givers and 20 non-paper-giving participants.

Should you wish to attend without giving a paper, please express interest to the editors at the address below. We shall confirm all participant places by 4th October 2010.

Please address all queries and submit all papers and expressions of interest to Matthew Johnson and Mark Edward at editor@global-discourse.com. With best wishes, Matthew Johnson.

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Levi Kicks off ANPS Reading Group

Levi has started the DeLanda A New Philosophy of Society (ANPS) reading group with an excellent post on chapter 1 (here) and posted links to other posts (here). Levi also starts to indicate the differences between DeLanda’s Assemblage Theory and the OOO of Harman and himself. For Levi, the main difference is that there are only relations of exteriority in Assemblage Theory and in OOO there are both relations of exteriority and relations of interiority.  I look forward to hearing more about the differences, as I confess that I am still working out the differences between an ‘assemblage’ and an ‘object.’

I also have to admit that the first chapter was when I began to pay attention to DeLanda and get excited about assemblage theory, rather than the introduction. I think this was for two reasons. First, assemblage theory is critical of totalities. For a while I have been critical of approaches in philosophy and social sciences that give too much casual explanation to a vague and all-encompassing totality. We can see this type of reductionist approach in Wallerstein’s World-Systems perspective, which DeLanda critiques latter in the book. The problem is that one social-unit/object is regarded as the main component and other concrete entities are neglected from the explanations. However, I think DeLanda is wrong in his desire to exclude capitalism as an abstract totality, and I tend to see capitalism as a virtual object with particular actual manifestations.

Second, DeLanda (correctly) argues that assemblages both have material and expression components. Too often the linguistic/cultural turn has emphasised the expressive component and neglected the material components. For example, Edward Said’s Orientalism, a book I have a lot of respect for, primarily concentrates on the expressive components of Orientalist practices. Influenced from Foucault, especially the Foucault of Archaeology of Knowledge, Said regards Orientalism as a discourse with a vast discursive network that makes possible Western conceptions of the Orients, and determines the superiority of the West. However, Said neglects to consider the material components necessary for Orientalism. For example, Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt is only examined in how the West produced knowledge and not the flows of materials required to retrieve/produce this knowledge. In addition, Said does not consider if the emergence of difference media transform and alter Orientalism. Is Orientalism the same with the development of the WWW as it was with books? I think assemblage theory, which acknowledges both the material and expressive components, is in a position to answer such questions. I also think that assemblage theory would require a form of hybrid analysis I have been suggesting here and here.