Marx Now! 2019: Power — Conflicts and Contradictions
Forms of power pervades all spheres of life, including the university. Yet where there is power, there is also the possibility of subversion. To explore different concepts of power and subversion, the Danish Society for Marxist Studies would like to invite you to our annual conference, Marx Now! at the Danish School of Education (DPU) in Copenhagen, 4–5 October 2019. The purpose of the conference is in part to strengthen the critical research traditions at universities, to identify gaps and blind spots and to bring together researchers from disparate fields. We invite those inside and outside of the academy to join us in this endeavor and urge potential contributors to translate the broadly formulated theme into their own areas of research.
The overarching theme of the 2019 conference will be Power: Conflicts and Contradictions. Power is contradictory. It suppresses, directs, conducts, registers and standardise. The power of capital relies on and reproduces a wide array of social contradictions and antagonisms relating to class, gender, race, sexuality, body forms, culture, nationality, etc. That domination and exploitation historically have gone hand in hand seems beyond questioning, so instead we will ask how and through which mechanisms the two have been linked. How can we best understand the ways in which capital has produced or reshaped and utilized identity markers as class, race and gender?
The aim of this year’s conference is to interrogate Marxist perspectives on power. If capital is ‘the command over unpaid labour’ (Marx, Capital), what does that mean for our understanding of the relation between economic and political power? Is there a distinctive Marxist perspective on power, and if so, how should we define it? Is ‘capital’ something that can exercise power, and what is the relation between Marxist and non-Marxist (mainstream and critical) conceptions of power? Is power something that can or should be ‘taken’, and if so, what would that mean in the current conjuncture?
We welcome papers which reflect on these questions in the context of contemporary capitalism as well as in the different historical constellations of capitalist societies and from historico-political as well as abstract-theoretical perspective. Papers may address problems such as:
- What is the logic of contradictions under capital?
- Which conceptual oppositions characterize the logic of capital? Examples could be freedom and coercion, abundance and scarcity, accumulation and destruction.
- How do power and powerlessness relate to each other as a conceptual pair?
- Does subversion arise from within power relations or is it better understood as exterior to it?
- How should we understand the relations between capitalism, colonialism and racialisation, the economic coercion of workers and the brute force and violence exerted under conditions of chattel slavery?
- Are gendered relations of dominance linked to an assumed opposition between productive and reproductive work, and if so how?
- What is economic power and what power do contemporary economists possess?
- How is power concentrated and reproduced among elites?
- Is the periodization of history an exercise of power? For instance, how does the distinction between feudalism and capitalism express an underlying power relation when we consider capital as a global phenomena?