Call for Abstracts: Twenty-First Annual Historical Materialism London Conference

Countering the Plague: Forces of Reaction and War and How to Fight Them

7th Nov 2024 12:00 - 10th Nov 2024 7:00

SOAS, Russell Square, Central London

Countering the Plague:

Forces of Reaction and War and How to Fight Them

7-10 November 2024


SOAS, Russell Square, Central London

Deadline for abstracts: Friday 31 May 2024

Submit paper or panel proposals here

For inquiries contact:

A wave of reaction and war is sweeping the globe. Since October 2023, genocide has been playing out in broad daylight in Gaza, executed by the occupation but co-organised by the US, the UK, and the EU. Imperialist aggression has spilled over from Palestine to Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and beyond. In Ukraine, the war rumbles on, refuelled by inter-imperialist rivalry. Meanwhile, reactionary forces are again in the ascendancy, with the prospect of a return of Donald Trump to power, massive gains by the far right in Europe and the reappearance of Latin American right-wing populism in the figure of Javier Milei, to mention only some cases. New forms of fascisation seem to emerge. Ever more brutal attitudes to immigrants become de rigueur in the global North. Basic reproductive rights are under attack. Climate disaster is already here with record temperatures and disasters that are anything but “natural”. Even more authoritarian and belligerent formations are growing out of the domination of capital over all aspects of life. As we seek to intervene and push back, there is much we must study anew and analyse.

What drives contemporary imperialist war? How should the Western appetite for colonial genocide and destruction in Palestine, on a scale unseen for decades anywhere in the world, be understood? What is the nature of the alliance between Israel, the US, and the rest of the West? Is the empire in decline? How should the resurgence of inter-imperialist rivalry and intensified antagonism between Russia, China and the US be conceived? What can be retrieved from classical Marxist theories of imperialism of value for the present moment? How should the Left regard the Palestinian resistance? How is the repression of solidarity for Palestine linked to the broader authoritarian mutation of ‘liberal democracies’?

What use can we make of the long history of Marxist contributions to the to the understanding of fascism, the rich tradition of linking racism to capitalism and the reproduction of exploitative relations of production, critiques of Zionism, and the contributions to questions of social reproduction, gender, and sexuality?

How is imperialist war articulated with fossil fuels? What imprint would geopolitical conflicts leave on geoengineering, a pseudo-solution steadily rising higher on the agenda? What do all of these macrotrends imply for the political landscape in individual countries – how do they animate local forces of reaction?

How can we ground these contradictory and conflictual tendencies in the changes in production process and the labour process and the constant re-emergence of forms of workers’ resistance?

In sum, what are the necessary political social and ideological resources that could overcome the prevailing sense of fragmentation and helplessness that dominates all varieties of what we could describe as the “Left” (from social democracy and reformist communist parties to the revolutionary Left), despite the continuous eruption of many important movements in many countries?

These are some of the pressing questions of the day, which we invite comrades to ponder, alongside the one central question that Lenin posed and that always hangs over us.


We still believe that this particular format of the in-person conference offers a unique and irreplaceable form that brings together comrades, enables discussion, helps disseminate new and original research, creates research networks and communities, and builds solidarity. Therefore, we will not accept online presentations, except in rare and specific cases. Throughout the rest of the year, we also engage in online broadcasts and podcasts.

As in the past, the conference ethos is strictly egalitarian. We invite everyone to contribute in a comradely spirit. The conference is open to all currents of critical Marxist theory, and we expect all presenters to attend the entire conference (from the Thursday afternoon to the Sunday afternoon), not just their own session (there are no ‘cameo appearances’). We therefore expect all speakers to make themselves available for the whole of the conference, as tailoring a conference of this size around individuals’ preferences and desires is neither feasible nor desirable. The conference is an essential part of the broader Historical Materialism project – including the journal, the book series, the podcast, the broadcasts, and the global network of HM conferences – and we enjoin all conference participants to get involved with these different elements, for example, by subscribing to the journal and submitting their conference paper to us for consideration.

In line with the central theme of this year’s conference, we particularly want to invite contributions that address the following non-exclusive questions:

  • Fascism and the rise of the far-right

  • Palestine and the genocidal violence of the Zionist state

  • Race, racialisation and capitalism

  • Marxism and the critique of antisemitism

  • Marxist critiques of sexism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity

  • Contemporary authoritarianism, the transformation of capitalist states, and the attacks on the right to protest

  • The many forms of imperialist aggression

  • The importance of strategic discussions and how to open these up

Whilst we encourage papers and panels that address these themes, as always, the Historical Materialism conference seeks to provide a space for critical Marxist theory and research across the globe and a range of disciplines and interests, so submissions on other themes are welcome.

The following streams will each be issuing individual CFPs:

Individual proposals for papers and panels must include: i) Names of participants with e-mails, phone numbers and institutional affiliations. Where there is more than one participant, we require a clear indication of a corresponding author. ii) Title and abstract of the paper or panel. In the case of a paper, please submit an abstract of no longer than 300 words. In the case of a panel, please submit an overarching description of 300 words, names and details of each participant and abstracts for individual papers. Ditto for book launches/panels.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 31 May 2024. Partial submissions may be rejected.

Submit a paper or panel proposal here
For all enquiries, please contact: