Systemic capitalist forces are pushing ever further in the direction of climate crisis, the precarization of labor, and the menace of (fossil) fascism, all painfully exposing the failures of global (neo)liberalism. Capital is well on its way to expropriate our very means of reproducing life, our planetary future. Greater than ever seems the need for strong anti-systemic movements that can radically challenge the relational structures of capitalism as a social and ecological regime and that, through collective struggle, can reposition ordinary people as protagonists of history.
A deeply fragmented Left will not be able to respond to that need but a unified Left seems undesirable and/or impossible as long as the living history of Marxist movements’ engagements with Black, Dalit, indigenous, Roma, and feminist radical traditions has not been opened up – as long as the Revolution has not been decolonized.
The call that Aimé Césaire formulated in his letter of resignation from the French Communist Party (1956) remains: “that Marxism and communism be placed in the service of black peoples, and not black peoples in the service of Marxism and communism”. The aim of this 2-day conference is to contribute further to “decolonizing the revolution” in view of the climate struggle that will determine the fate of a large part of poor humanity.
To overcome the historical subordination of the liberation of oppressed, racialized, and gendered groups to conceptions of emancipation proposed by locally dominant groups and global Eurocentric ideals, we seek to build on the experience of “particular” radical traditions of collective anti-capitalist organizing – traditions that have often been side-lined or silenced for the sake of what Césaire called an “emaciated universalism”. In doing so, we revisit the visions of thinkers recognized as reaching for the universal through the particular in actually existing Marxist movements and other revolutionary anti-capitalist traditions – e.g. C.L.R. James, José Carlos Mariátegui, Anton de Kom, Silvia Federici, Angela Davis, Anand Teltumbde, Pastora Filigrana, Glenn Coulthard.
We also seek to learn from the experiences of political movements operating in this space – e.g. the Zapatistas, the Black Panther Party, the Dalit Panthers. We pay particular attention, moreover, to stretching such visions and experiences to conceive of anti-capitalist responses to the grand challenge presented by climate change.
Call for papers
This Call for Papers invites contributions from anthropology and related disciplines that derive their analyses from close qualitative/ethnographic/fieldwork-based study of historical or contemporary movements.
We invite abstracts that engage with questions like:
- What insights can be gained from a close investigation of Communist and Socialist parties that failed the “most oppressed” that they claimed to be their central protagonists?
- How have subaltern groups helped shape the Left and/or made the Left their own?
- How can a critical interrogation of Marxist blind-spots and exclusions open up political space and how can “elite capture” of radical traditions be avoided?
- How have prevailing conceptualizations of class within the Marxist tradition impacted the understanding and analysis of power relations?
- What were the political-economic circumstances that encouraged the divergence of Marxist and other radical movements and what are the structural forces shaping the field of political mobilization today?
- What silenced histories and contemporary examples are there of egalitarian and effective anti-capitalist organizing?
- What climate justice struggles are there today that simultaneously bear the seeds of revolutionary anti-capitalist organizing?
- Under what conditions does the tension between Marxist and e.g. Black, indigenous, and feminist revolutionary praxis become either reproduced or resolved in green anti-capitalism?
Please submit your 250-word abstract by clicking on the button above. Please make sure to include a short biographical note and mention of you current institutional. If your abstract gets accepted, we will ask you to send in a short (2000 word) draft paper by June 1st.
About the conference
The conference is organized by Luisa Steur (UvA) together with Natalia Buier (UB) and Stephen Campbell (NTU). It will be held on 15 and 16 June 2023 on-site (not online) at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam and at the International Institute of Social History. The conference is supported by the Moving Matters research group (Anthropology Department, UvA) and Focaal-Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.
Conference attendance is free; limited funding for travel (by train/bus if reachable within 8 hours) and alternative possibilities for accommodation may be available for those without enough access to funding from their own institution.
For any further questions, please contact Luisa Steur