Tenth Annual Conference

Making the World Working Class

7th Nov 2013 7:00 - 11th Nov 2013 3:00

SOAS, London

Call for Papers

Making the World Working Class

Tenth Annual Historical Materialism Conference Central London 7-10 November 2013



‘Capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons’ – and between classes. The complex task of analysing class structures and, at the same time, transforming and transcending them is at the core of Marx’s legacy. 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of CLR James’s “The Black Jacobins” and the 50th anniversary of EP Thompson’s “The Making of the English Working Class”. Wary of all reifications of class, Thompson showed how the working class was not only made by capital, but made itself in everyday struggles and political agitation. James affirmed the need to look at the international division of labour in the context of race and imperialism, and gave voice to the revolutionary agency of the ‘black Jacobins’ and other historically neglected enemies of capitalism and colonialism.

In the wake of the new conflicts thrown up by decolonisation and more recent processes of neoliberal ‘globalisation’, research in the field of labour and working class history has acquired an increasingly global dimension, and become more attentive to the critical role played by race and gender in the formations of working classes. Social struggles and resistance – from Latin America to Eastern Europe, from the Arab-Islamic world to East Asia – continue to show that working classes worldwide have not ceased remaking themselves, at the same time as they struggle against capitalist strategies to turn class composition into class decomposition, to unmake a world working class. Significantly, in order to understand this changing reality and the roots of the crisis of the neoliberal system, a growing body of scholarship questions the representation of labour as a passive factor in production, and investigates how workers’ struggles co-determine processes of capitalist development, as well as cultural mutations and political transformations.

Despite rising levels of class struggle – from a growing working class movement in China to the Arab uprisings and mobilisation against austerity in Southern Europe – discourses of class remain largely marginal to political debate and action. Class struggle is often recognised, namely through the language of inequality, but is being increasingly filtered, also on the left, through notions of ‘the people’ or ‘the 99%’. The tenth annual Historical Materialism aims to provide a forum for debating  the descriptive and prescriptive roles that concepts of class and class struggle can have today. More generally, we seek contributions that account for how Marxist theory, historiography and empirical research can explain and intervene in the contemporary conjuncture. We will be hosting a stream on “Race and Capital” (for which a separate call for papers is forthcoming, along with a CFP building on last year’s “Marxism and Feminism” stream), and we especially welcome papers that address the following themes:

  • class, imperialism and migration
  • class and gender
  • Marxism and feminism
  • geographies and spaces of class
  • class, capitalism and environment in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
  • changing geographies of accumulation and resistance
  • working class movements today
  • class strategies against the crisis and ‘austerity’
  • revisiting Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class
  • revisiting the legacy of CLR James
  • history of the international communist movement
  • Marxism and theories of intersectionality
  • class struggle and political organisation, party and class
  • theories of class formation and class composition
  • crisis, austerity, and proletarianisation
  • class and the agrarian question
  • class, literature and literary theory
  • cultures of class
  • ‘class struggle without classes’
  • class, poverty, inequality
  • representing class and capital in art and culture
  • proletarianisation, pauperisation and precarity

We are, of course, open to proposals on other themes as well.

Please note: the HM conference is not a conventional academic conference but rather a space for discussion, debate and the launching of collective projects. We therefore discourage “cameo appearances” and encourage speakers to participate in the whole of the conference. We also strongly urge all speakers to take out personal subscriptions to the journal.

Deadline for registration of abstracts: 1st May 2013

Panels can also be proposed but we reserve the right to disaggregate them and accept only some papers – they are not “package deals”. Deadline: 1 May 2013

Preference will be given to subscribers to the journal and participants are expected to be present during the whole of the event – no tailor-made timetabling for individuals will be possible.

Register Online

Online registration is now closed. You can come and register directly on the door.
Registration on the door will be £25 for unwaged and £75 for waged participants. Unwaged participants wishing to attend for a single day are invited to pay on the door also.

Registration desk is at SOAS, Thornhaugh Square, Russell Square Underground station.

  • Thursday at 12:00
  • Friday at 9.00
  • Saturday at 9.00
  • Sunday at 9.00

All those who cannot afford the suggested unwaged contribution rate, or who only wish to attend a few sessions, should come to registration to discuss a fair contribution.

Accomodation Info

The venue is in the Bloomsbury area of central London, with many hotels in the area. You can find here a range of accommodation options.

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is in the Bloomsbury area of central London which is very popular with tourists. As a consequence of this, there are many hotels in the area but they are pricey. The following might be helpful, and is designed to suit a range of pocket sizes.


If you go to this site and search WC1 for 27-29 November it gives you a list of 50 or so hotels in the Bloomsbury area which are all in easy reach of the conference. The information includes details of star rating, price for that weekend, link to individual hotel websites etc. These range in price from £400-£40 a night!

NB It is often cheaper to book through this website than directly with the hotel. And if you request no breakfast it is often approximately £5 cheaper.

Some recommended hotels:

[All prices based on a single room]

The Tavistock Hotel
Tavistock Square
(c.£67 per night). Reasonable hotel just round the corner from SOAS.

Park Inn Hotel
77 Southampton Row

(From £79 per night. Newly refurbished. Very close to SOAS)

The Mabledon Court Hotel
Mabledon Place
(£75 per night). A short walk to SOAS, small but perfectly nice rooms

The Hotel Cavendish
75 Gower Street
(£85 per night). Very near SOAS, a little grander.

Other options

Travelodge provide an anonymous hotel experience. There are two in King’s Cross, and one in Euston, all near the conference venues. Try the website

A similar style hotel is on Euston Road/Duke’s Place: Premier Travel Inn Euston. It has building works during November, socar parking is not available (c.£90 per night).

Other hotels on the cheaper end (which we have not visited, so cannot guarantee quality) include:

Arosfa Hotel
83 Gower Street
London WC1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7636 2115
Prices around Single: £55 Double/twin: £82

Arran House Hotel
77 Gower Street
London WC1
Tel: +44 20 7636 2186 London WC1 Fax: +44 20 7436 5328
Prices around Basic: Single: £55 Double/twin: £82; Ensuite: Single: £65 Double/twin: £105

Ashlee House
261-265 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7833 9400
Fax: +44 (0)20 7833 9677
Dorm: £9; Single: £45; Double: £22.50

County Hotel
Upper Woburn Place
London WC1H 0JW
Tel: +44 (0)20 7387 5544
Single: £42 Double/twin: £54

Crescent Hotel
49-50 Cartwright Gardens
London WC1H
Tel: +44 (0)20 7387 1515
Single: £50 Double: £99

European Hotel
11-15 Argyle Square
Kings Cross WC1
the cost of a single room + private bathroom + breakfast is £50)

Garth Hotel
69 Gower Street
London WC1E 6HJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7636 5761
Fax: +44 (0)20 7637 4854
Single: £55 Double: £69

The Generator Hostel
Compton Place (off 37 Tavistock Square)
London WC1H 9SD
Dorm: £22.50; Private (based on 4 sharing) £25

The George Hotel
58-60 Cartwright Gardens
London WC1 9EL
Tel: +44 (0)20 7387 8777
Basic: Single: £49.50 Double: £68.50; Ensuite: Single: £75 Double: £89

Goodenough Club
Mecklenburgh Square
London WC1N 2AB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7769 4727
Single: £95 (including breakfast) (Members rates: available to staff or alumni of academic institutions, charities)

Gower House Hotel
57 Gower Street
Tel: +44 20 7636 4685
Fax: +44 20 7636 4685
Single: £50-£65 Double: £55-80 (all with breakfast)

The Gresham Hotel

36 Bloomsbury Street
London WC1B 3QJ
Tel: +44 20 7580 4232
Single: £40 Double/twin: £58; Ensuite single: £ 55; double: £75

SOAS has an arrangement with the nearby Bloomsbury Holiday Inn. Book by phone and say you are attending a conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies and they will give you ‘the corporate rate’ – around £105 a night.

The YMCA Indian Students’ Hostel
41 Fitzroy Square
The Indian YMCA is close by and provides excellent facilities at very reasonable prices. You do not need to be young, a student, or Indian to stay there. Rooms are from £40 – £67 a night, and range from basic to en suite. Dormitory beds are £25 a night. Prices include both breakfast and dinner. All details are available at the website. *Strongly recommended for those on a budget.

St Pancras Youth Hostel Association
79-81 Euston Road
There is no longer an age barrier to staying at a Youth Hostel in Britain and this one is a short walk away from the conference. Beds are £25 a night in rooms of 2 – 6 beds.

Palmers Lodge Hostel
40 College Crescent
Swiss Cottage
This has the disadvantage of being a tube journey away from the conference (nearest tube Swiss Cottage) but is otherwise a good hostel with beds from £14 for a dorm to £26 for an en suite room. Price includes continental breakfast.

Here are some other cheapish hostels.

International Student House which is near SOAS – enquiries to

Penn Club in Russell Square ( Prices begin at £56 for a basic single for non-members.

You might also try the Backpackers’ hostel chain, St Christopher’s Inns, which has hostels nearby in Camden and Covent Garden from £15 for multi-occupant rooms.


Conference Poster