HM Marxist-Feminist Stream

8th May, 2018

Taking on the Right

Historical Materialism Fifteenth Annual Conference - Call For Papers

School of Oriental and African Studies, Central London, 8-11 November 2018

www.historicalmaterialism.org

All queries to: historicalmaterialism@soas.ac.uk

HM Call for Papers for the Marxist-Feminist Stream

www.historicalmaterialism.org

All queries to: historicalmaterialism@soas.ac.uk

Abstract submissions:

https://conference.historicalmaterialism.org/index.php/hmlondon/hm15

Deadline: 1 June 2018

 

The rise of the nationalist right across the globe is alarming for women. From the Polish government's resolve to ban abortion, to the revolting violence against women and children in India defended by politicians of Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist party, to Trump's regular misogynist comments and policies, right-wing demagogues and their supporters are not only creating a climate that legitimizes and justifies violence against women but they are also implementing laws to restrict women's freedoms as much as undermine or negate the rights of LBTQ people. The prominence of the political right coincides with and fuels racist far-right and fascistic movements that are making headlines on a daily basis. The recent attack in Toronto by an 'incel' follower revealed the links between this group of women-haters and the alt-right.

 

These tendencies are not simply reminiscent of some of the darkest pages of history, when fascist rulers declared women's bodies to be the property of men and the nation, and rape was treated mainly as a moral offence. Rather, they align with and reinforce neoliberal capitalist policies that destroy individuals' lives and the planet on an unprecedented level – policies often implemented and still supported by liberal and centre-left politicians.

 

But the misogyny of the right-wing is not restricted to the legitimation of physical violence and their attacks on women's reproductive rights. It is also evident in the social and economic degradation of women's lives. Austerity policies across Europe and North America have hit women the hardest. According to the Women's Budget Group in the UK, seven years of Tory government cuts to welfare provisions have meant the loss of jobs in the public sector (where women are prevalently employed) and the closure of almost 20% of refuges for victims of domestic violence. Such policies entrench further women's position as the poorest section of society, often in heavily racialized terms. In the US, the budget cuts proposed by Trump's administration in Medicaid, housing assistance and low-income energy assistance would bear particularly negatively on women, especially women of colour. Furthermore, migrant women find themselves confronting the sharpest end of the right-wing nationalist stick. Not only do they constantly face the risk of being deported, but they are also segregated in the care and domestic/cleaning sectors, which are the worst paid and devalued sectors of the economy. This is the result of the ongoing and intensifying devaluation of workers' social reproduction, or those activities that are not always directly and immediately profitable for capitalism (such as healthcare and education) but are nonetheless crucial if capitalism is to have a cheap and exploitable workforce at its disposal.

 

In such a bleak context, women have nonetheless shown a strength and level of organization that we have not seen in decades. In Argentina, the US, Poland, Italy, Spain and many other countries women have taken to the streets, organizing against gender violence and the misogyny to which they are subjected on a daily basis. In movements like #MeToo, Ni Una Menos, and the International Women's Strike, they are fighting back against the climate of male impunity and hatred fueled by the right. They are also challenging the hypocrisy and calls to 'lean in' by neoliberal self-proclaimed feminists.

 

Marxist-feminists are playing a key role in these movements. Not only are we directly involved in the resistance against the right but we are also developing new theoretical and organizational tools to face the challenges women encounter at this nationalist, ultra-authoritarian turn in neoliberal capitalism. From the development of the Social Reproduction framework to the critique of corporate and right-wing feminisms, to the unraveling of, and battle against femo- and homo-nationalisms that want us to believe that Islam is the patriarchal and homophobic enemy to combat, Marxist-feminists in the last ten years have produced some of the most sophisticated and effective approaches to analyse and oppose capitalist barbarity.

 

To continue developing our theoretical and organizational tools and create new ones, we welcome papers that cover (but are not restricted to) the following themes:

 

• Women's and feminists' resistance against the right: struggles and movements

• Why are women leading or participating in far-right formations and political parties?

• What are the strategies of right and far-right platforms in approaching working-class women specifically?

• The forms of violence activated in suppressing feminist and LGBTQ activism

• The role of the judiciary system and state apparatuses overall in legitimizing capitalism's authoritarian turn as regards women's and feminist struggles

• If and how cultural practices and theories, including those that concern art and literature, engage Marxist-feminist thought in undermining the far right and the 'fascist matrix' of much contemporary politics

• The role of religion – for example, of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches – in promoting and normalizing authoritarian misogyny and nationalism and joining forces with the right and far right

• Marxist-feminist pedagogy in combating the far right (in the classroom, student movements, social centres)

• Marxist-feminist theorisations of the links between capitalism and fascism.

• Strategies and tactics: what can Marxist-feminism do in order to combat the rise of the far right and its social appeal?

• The utility of Social Reproduction Theory in assessing and theorizing capitalism

 

Abstracts and panel proposals should explicitly mention the Marxist-Feminist Stream. Panel proposals should include names and abstracts of all participants.