19th May, 2017
Marxist-Feminist Stream - Stream at the Historical Materialism Annual Conference
Deadline for abstracts EXTENDED: 31 May 2017
***PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS THE LAST EXTENSION. THERE WILL BE NO OTHERS***
HISTORICAL MATERIALISM 2017 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Revolutions Against Capital, Capital Against Revolutions?
Central London, 9-12 November 2017
The contribution of women in mass/popular/class/revolutionary uprisings has often been overlooked, even in cases where women played a leading role. Following the Call for Papers of the 14th HM London conference in commemorating the Marxist legacy in revolutions of the past at the centenary of the October Revolution while thinking about present struggles, this is then also an opportune time to highlight and reflect on the role of women and feminist ideas in revolutionary situations.
Processes of excision, of silencing, of sidelining help explain the sway of a (neo)liberal feminism in the so-called West that places feminism as an emancipatory possibility engendered by capitalism rather than socialism or communism. This suppression of women's revolutionary histories has been successful in establishing neoliberal feminism as the mainstream. Marxist-feminists need to revisit and reclaim their histories, not only to set the record straight but to move beyond them by critically engaging with other anti-racist, anti-colonialist, revolutionary feminisms. A new generation of feminist activists and theorists is challenging neoliberal feminism and placing feminist struggles again squarely within anti-capitalist and anti-racist agendas. All across the globe, 2016 and 2017 have been years of struggle for abortion rights (as in Poland's Black Monday) and women's self-determination as well as years of resurgence of significant feminist movements (as in the case of the Women's March in the USA and the Women's Strike in many parts of the world).
In 2017, the HM London conference's Marxist feminist stream invites critical Marxist feminist thinking on the processes and strategies of excision and silencing as described above, but also on elaborating on the ways in which the important struggles of the past years can lead to the emergence and consolidation of revolutionary feminist movements worldwide. We invite papers that re-work Alexandra Kollontai's question 'what has the October Revolution done for women in the West?' (1927) to which we add the question 'what has the October Revolution done for Women in the East?' as well as a series of other questions:
- How has Marxist feminism approached the legacy of revolutions so far?
- Are there Marxist feminist theorisations of the revolution today that can operate against the neo-fascist offensive in its alliance with contemporary capitalism?
- What are the sites of Marxist feminist revolutionary pedagogy today?
- What is the connection of social movements against racism to the Marxist feminist critique of revolutions?
- What has the November Revolution, and Rosa Luxemburg's murder, achieved in terms of burying the issue of female revolutionary leaders for most of the 20th century?
- What is the experience of women as participants in, or leaders of, revolutions beyond Europe? What feminist politics have informed those experiences? How can we expand a transnational, even global dialogue as a shared space for negotiating a possibly collective experience?
- What are the positions of Marxist feminism on the questions of revolution, violence, and self-defense?
- What counts as revolutionary praxis today from the perspectives of Marxist feminism? Does the strike, for instance, allow for a successful imbrication of women's demands concerning production and reproduction, a distinction forced by capitalist economy and economics?
- What is the impact of the wage relation (and dependency) on keeping women 'in their place' (in factories, the service industry, the home), ensuring therefore their suppression as a revolutionary force? Or should we have other readings of the wage relation as the ground of economic independence within the actuality of capitalism?
What is the role (and revival) of religion as politics in suppressing or enabling women as a revolutionary force?
- Is the abolition or the multiplication of genders a revolutionary utopia that we should strive for in opposing the concrete exploitations of capitalism?
- Has the notion of 'passive revolution' been of use to Marxist feminist struggles, or has it been twisted to negate the possibility of 'active revolution'?
- What is the relationship of sexual relations to class struggle today as opposed to 1921, when Kollontai wrote a text under this heading?
We hope that contributors to the Marxist feminist stream will bring their own critical questions, of relevance to research and to everyday struggle, to be added to the above provisional list of questions – not least in relation to what and who the social category 'woman' may encompass today as a revolutionary subject beyond a normative biologism. We invite panels, papers, and platforms where such questions can be openly debated with the sense of urgency our times command.