Blog
2 May 2024

Post-Capitalism 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: conference@historicalmaterialism.org

https://www.historicalmaterialism.org/

The need to fight against authoritarian, right-wing, militarist politics at a global scale revives the significance of alternative political imaginaries, post-capitalist economies and transition debates within Marxism’s plural traditions. Old debates are revisited from a fresh perspective to question, challenge and expand the meaning of socialist planning, from the Socialist Calculation Debate and New Economic Planning to Socialist Cybernetics. New debates bring to the fore the possibilities and limitations of subverting contemporary digital technologies and material infrastructures for socialist ends. Recent archival work reveals underappreciated contributions of post-colonial Black radical thought and non-Aligned movement to a new international economic order before their potentials were repressed by neoliberalism. 

Radical experiments of producer and consumer cooperatives, complementary currencies, urban commons, communal care led by black, indigenous, queer, women’s and workers’ struggles emerge as laboratories of learning for Marxists and socialists rather than offering a blueprint of what a post-capitalist economy should look like. How those struggles and experiments can be galvanised for a subaltern hegemony remains also a crucial strategic question. At the same time, various theoretical insights within post-capitalism debates including Degrowth, Post-work, Ecological post-work, Eco-socialism, Diverse and Queer economies, Crip Time, Abolitionism, Red Deal, amongst others, offer a fertile ground to expand the territory of the discussion. The role of state institutions is also being re-thought with the debates on universal basic income and universal basic services from critical, feminist, anti-ableist and anti-racist perspectives.

The twenty-first annual conference of Historical Materialism invites delegates to submit proposals to engage with, contribute to and advance those debates. Submissions may be developed based on classical and contemporary theoretical debates, historical and empirical case studies/experiments of alternative economies, or performance/interpretation of literary and artistic work through the lenses of post-capitalist futures. The theme is open to all disciplines and interdisciplinary analysis emerging from scholarly research and activist practices.

We are inviting proposals broadly on, but not limited to, the following themes/questions:

– In what ways do contemporary post-capitalist thinking and experiments approach and transform relations of production, exchange, finance, social reproduction and ecology?

– What are the divergent ways in which post-capitalist debates define the distinctive features of capitalism? What are the implications of immanent vs. transcendent perspectives for overcoming capitalism? 

What exactly do we need to change in order to abolish capitalism? Is it possible to identify strategic targets to enable a radical rupture at various scales? How can we address the tension between concrete experiments and the abstract power of capital? 

– What are the historical, imperial and contemporary roots of the work- and fossil-centred capitalist economies? What does such analysis tell us in order to rethink the relationship between climate and social justice for post-capitalist futures?

– How do Marxist frameworks which foreground the constitutive unevenness, inequality, asynchronicity and complexity of global capitalist relations (e.g. Dependency Theory, World Systems Theory, Modes of Production debates) complicate centralist conceptions of the plan? 

– How do conceptions and experiences of composition and decomposition constrain or realise the socialisation of means of production?

– How can we make an historical-materialist analysis of the successes and failures of contemporary post-capitalist experiments without romanticising them? How do they dismantle and/or reproduce capitalist social relations? 

– How can we de-centre the debates on post-capitalism by learning from indigenous, black, queer, anti-ableist, feminist perspectives/struggles and intellectual debates/scholarship from the Global South?

– What does it mean to think about post-capitalism in the context of the destruction of economic infrastructures and livelihoods by settler colonialism? What do alternative economies in Palestine’s anti-colonial struggles teach us about the connection between political and economic liberation?

– How can we adopt a critical perspective on the historical “socialist” experiments in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, South/Central America, Caribbeans and Africa whilst also exploring their unfulfilled potentials? 

– How can we rethink the relationship between digital and physical technologies/infrastructures and post-capitalist alternatives? 

– Is a left-wing government that might implement post-capitalist alternatives transforming social relations possible?

– What are the complex emotions experienced by activists while building, maintaining alternatives and failing? How do we make sense of revolutionary rage, joy, hope, faith, solidarity as much as fatigue, burnout, fallout, melancholy and despair?

– Can speculative fiction, utopian and futurist thinking be used as an aid for working-class struggle?

– How can contemporary scientific developments in quantum physics, fractal geometry, chaos theory, neurosciences, evolutionary biology inform the way we anticipate change and post-capitalist economies?

Complete panel proposals of three or four persons and roundtables on specific themes, books, or concepts are also encouraged. If you would like to discuss a proposal in advance, please email: conference@historicalmaterialism.org 

Please note that 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. Participants will be expected to take part in the whole of the conference (not just their session or the day of their session) and to make themselves available for the scheduling of their session at any point during the entirety of the three and half days.

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 Post-capitalism 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: conference@historicalmaterialism.org