10 April 2024

Western Marxism 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:


Ever since the publication of Perry Anderson’s seminal work “Considerations on Western Marxism” in 1976, the discourse surrounding Western Marxism has been a dynamic and evolving field within Marxist scholarship. Anderson’s articulation of a distinct ‘Western’ strand of Marxist thought, separate from both Classical Marxism and the Soviet Orthodoxy, has sparked extensive debate, critique, and reevaluation over the decades. While Anderson’s work served to popularise the term and provide initial criteria for defining Western Marxism, subsequent scholarship has questioned its applicability, scope, and historical accuracy, leading to ongoing discussions about its relevance and utility in understanding the complexities of Marxist theory and practice.

In preparation for a forthcoming special issue of Historical Materialism Journal, we invite submissions which revisit and reassess the concept of Western Marxism by engaging in critical dialogue about its histories, challenges, and transmissions. Through interdisciplinary approaches and comparative analyses, we aim to deepen our understanding of Western Marxism, its diverse manifestations, and its implications for contemporary Marxist theory and praxis.

We welcome contributions that address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

Revisiting Anderson’s Thesis: Critical reexamination of Anderson’s categorisation of Western Marxism, its underlying assumptions, and its historical accuracy. How has Anderson’s framework shaped subsequent scholarship, and what are its limitations and blind spots?

Alternative Histories and Categorisations: Exploring alternative narratives and categorisations of Marxist thought that challenge the notion of a distinct Western Marxism. How have different historical, geographical, and cultural contexts influenced the development of Marxist theory, and how can we reconceptualise Western Marxism in light of these diverse trajectories?

Transnational Transmissions: Examining regional or national traditions of Western Marxism, particularly beyond Europe, such as in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. How have local political, social, and cultural dynamics intersected with Marxist theory, how has Western Marxism travelled and what insights can be gained from these marginalised or under-discussed transmissions?

Conceptual Debates and Theoretical Significance: Analysing key concepts central to the debate around Western Marxism, such as ‘totality,’ ‘fetishism,’ ‘class consciousness,’ ‘dialectics,’ and ‘praxis.’ How have these concepts been interpreted, contested, and applied within different strands of Western Marxist thought, and what are their continued theoretical and strategic implications?

Marxisms in the West Beyond Western Marxism: Critical inquiry into currents in ‘Marxism in the West’, from operaismo to Neue Marx-Lektüre and figures like Grossman, Wittfogel, Sohn-Rethel, Krahl and Pollock, as counterpoints to Anderson’s definition of Western Marxism.

Dialogues and Intersections: Exploring dialogues between Western Marxism and other Marxist currents, as well as non-Marxist intellectual traditions. How have Western Marxists engaged with and influenced broader intellectual debates, and how can we bridge disciplinary and ideological divides to foster fruitful dialogues across diverse theoretical frameworks?

Political Implications and Social Movements: Investigating the political implications and influences of various Western Marxist currents, both historically and in contemporary contexts. How have different interpretations of Western Marxism shaped political strategies, social movements, and revolutionary praxis, and what lessons can be learned for emancipatory struggles today?

Western Marxism and the Economic Conjuncture: Interrogating the relationship between economic and theoretical conjunctures and the extent to which we can use the categories Marx develops in his critique of political economy to explain tendencies within the history of Marxist theory/philosophy.

General submissions on Western Marxism, in all its various interpretations, and Marxist philosophy, in all its various forms, are also encouraged. Submissions may be developed based on theoretical argument or textual readings, comparative analysis, historical case studies or archival work, or critical interpretation of specific texts in and beyond the canon of Western Marxism. Provided it is broadly Marxist in orientation, we encourage cross-disciplinary analysis that emerges from academic research and activist practices.

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:

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.

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 Western Marxism 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: