26 April 2024

Marxism and Culture Stream Call for Abstracts – Twenty-First Annual Historical Materialism London Conference

Twenty-First Annual Historical Materialism London Conference

 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:

In neither form, content, nor tendency are the arts and culture immune to reactionary social forces. With raging wars, imperialist expansion, and an emboldened Far Right comes, in tow, renewed attempts to posit the strong complicity of the arts and culture to these reactionary political programmes. In place of viewing art, culture and literature as domains of social critique, we find a destitute defence of them reframed through theses of the racially-charged Spenglarian ‘decline of the West’ or conservative, anti-modern ‘loss of the centre’ and a return to ‘trad aesthetics’. Here, the weaponisation of ‘culture’ serves only to bolster reactionary myths of national heritage and identity. Simultaneously, artists, curators, and cultural institutions have been forced to ground questions of representation, censorship, and solidarity in the realities of Palestinian struggle. This dynamic has, for better or worse, accentuated clear divisions regarding the fundamental purpose of art and cultural institutions, thereby exposing, perhaps more starkly than ever, the geopolitical interests intertwined with the high culture industry.

As part of this year’s Marxism and Culture Stream at the Historical Materialism Annual Conference in London, we propose to foreground these concerns, aiming to think, examine, and combat from a Marxist perspective. Towards these ends, we are soliciting proposals for papers and panels that may include, but need not be limited to, any of the following topics:

  • Marxism and/contra cultural conservatism
  • Reactionary, fascistic, and authoritarian art, cultural, and literary histories
  • Marxism and art, cultural, and literary historiography
  • The Marxist critique of Far Right iconography
  • Revolutionary and counterrevolutionary tendencies in the historical avant-garde
  • Art, war and imperialist aggression
  • The destruction of cultural heritage
  • The historical and contemporary role of cultural institutions
  • Art, culture, state formation and national identity
  • The racial regime of reactionary aesthetics
  • Class composition and the arts
  • Labour and workplace struggles in the cultural sector
  • Literary or cinematic depictions of fascism and dystopia
  • Combined and uneven development, world literature and world energy literature
  • Imperialism and the political economy of the contemporary culture industry
  • Censorship, boycotts and other struggles in the cultural sphere
  • Art, culture and ideology

General submissions on Marxism – in all its various interpretations – and art, culture, and literature – in all its various forms – are also encouraged. Submissions may be developed based on theoretical argument or textual readings, historical case studies or empirical analysis, or critical interpretation of specific artworks, novels, poems, films, plays, compositions etc. Provided it is Marxist in orientation, we encourage cross-disciplinary analysis that emerges from academic research and activist practices.

Please note, this is an in-person conference only – a rationale for which can be found in the general call for papers. Online presentations will not be permitted.

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.

When submitting, please indicate that your paper or panel is intended for the Marxism and Culture Stream. Please also ensure that all contact information and institutional affiliations are accurate and up-to-date.

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

Submit a paper or panel proposal here

 For all enquiries about the conference please contact: