10 April 2024

Sexuality and Political Economy Stream Call for Abstracts: Strategies for Free and Emancipatory Sexualities

Twenty-First Annual Historical Materialism London Conference

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

Sexuality and Political Economy Stream Call for Abstracts:  Strategies for Free and Emancipatory Sexualities

 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:

HM SPEN, as always, welcomes papers/panels that explore and develop the intersection of sexuality and Marxist political economy and contribute to theoretical, political, cultural (including arts and literature and cultural critique) and concrete studies that build the corpus of Marxist approaches to visioning and seeking strategically more free and emancipatory approaches to sexuality as part of a radically transformative agenda.

For HM London 2024, we would like to encourage in particular papers and panels that directly explore the question of how radical approaches and struggles for free and emancipatory sexualities can be developed. This involves a number of key questions and debates:

  • Undoubtedly struggles around identities – LGBTQI – have been important in raising cognisance of sexual oppressions in capitalist societies on a global scale, building solidarity for sexual recognition and struggles for rights, and creating a space for visibility, social and cultural engagement and transformed normativity in some societies. However, there are concerns that identities as a basis of struggle play into capitalist normalising, commodifying and recognition focused political agendas. How do we distinguish between struggles around identity that move emancipation forward and those that move down a cul-de-sac of domesticated and inextricably intertwined relations within capitalist societies
  • One variant of the tension above – how should we analyse homonormativity in some societies now that it has had a sufficient period of gestation to be reflected upon?
  • There is a tendency for far more focus on tactical struggles within countries that already have a base for sexual recognitions, protections and engagements in goods and services than countries where intolerance, violence and oppression dictate. How do we develop political struggles that directly build solidarity and strategies for political change on a global scale. In the context of Arab states ‘sportwashing’ (and Jordan Henderson’s exercising of the limits to ‘support’ for LGB people), and Muslim states tendencies to strict heteronormativity, how do we navigate avoiding subsumption into western prejudicial imperialist positionings whilst building radical rejections of sexual oppression?
  •  Whilst abortion/termination struggles (and the US regression on Roe/Wade) and trans oppression and struggles for more than token recognitions are gendered issues, and the racialised nature of non-what sexualised bodies cannot be understood without an appreciation of race, how do we frame the development of a common Frame of critique and resistance. Is a common frame needed? Does intersectionality suffice? What is a genuine intimate politics of everyone?
  • What can critical studies in culture, the arts and literature and the representational nexus offer in their impact and characterisation of sexual freedom, emancipation and justice?
  • What lines do radicals draw on sexual freedom and emancipation? Whilst Marxists recognise ethics as inherently a matter of politics and material political economies, there is still a requirement to draw lines in what is sexually permissible or requires intervention. Many on the left would not wish a repeat of the 1970’s flirtation of parts of the left with paedophile rights (but some would). Whilst the left unites against sexual violence and harassment, there is some recognition about the way #MeToo has advanced those struggles but also been used by the right to move forward conservative agendas. These questions raise the issue of balancing freedoms and emancipatory cultures and logics. Where are the lines drawn?

Whilst we hope that all Historical Materialism conference yield publications, there is a particular feeling that these themes might bring together a coherent set of papers for a book proposal.

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 Sexuality and Political Economy 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, please contact: