November 07, 2013 - November 10, 2013

SOAS, London

Historical Materialism Conference 2013

The Tenth Annual Conference 'Making the World Working Class'
The HM 2013 Tenth Annual Conference 'Making the World Working Class' will take place in Central London, November 7th to November 10th.

Capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons’ - and between classes. The complex task of analysing class structures and, at the same time, transforming and transcending them is at the core of Marx's legacy. 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of CLR James’s "The Black Jacobins" and the 50th anniversary of EP Thompson’s "The Making of the English Working Class". Wary of all reifications of class, Thompson showed how the working class was not only made by capital, but made itself in everyday struggles and political agitation. James affirmed the need to look at the international division of labour in the context of race and imperialism, and gave voice to the revolutionary agency of the ‘black Jacobins’ and other historically neglected enemies of capitalism andcolonialism.

In the wake of the new conflicts thrown up bydecolonisation and more recent processes of neoliberal ‘globalisation’, research in the field of labour andworking class history has acquired an increasingly global dimension, and become more attentive to the critical role played by race and gender in the formations of working classes. Social struggles andresistance – from Latin America to Eastern Europe, from the Arab-Islamic world to East Asia – continue to show that working classes worldwide have not ceasedremaking themselves, at the same time as they struggle against capitalist strategies to turn classcomposition into class decomposition, to unmake a world working class. Significantly, in order to understand this changing reality and the roots of the crisis of the neoliberal system, a growing body of scholarship questions the representation of labour as a passive factor in production, and investigates how workers’ struggles co-determine processes of capitalistdevelopment, as well as cultural mutations andpolitical transformations.  


Despite rising levels of class struggle - from a growing working class movement in China to the Arab uprisings and mobilisation against austerity in Southern Europe - discourses of class remain largely marginal to politicaldebate and action. Class struggle is often recognised, namely through the language of inequality, but is being increasingly filtered, also on the left, through notions of ‘the people’ or ‘the 99%’. The tenth annual Historical Materialism aims to provide a forum fordebating  the descriptive and prescriptive roles thatconcepts of class and class struggle can have today. More generally, we seek contributions that account for how Marxist theory, historiography and empirical research can explain and intervene in thecontemporary conjuncture. We will be hosting a stream on "Race and Capital" (for which a separate call for papers is forthcoming, along with a CFP building on last year's "Marxism and Feminism" stream), and we especially welcome papers that address the following themes:

· class, imperialism and migration

· class and gender

· Marxism and feminism

· geographies and spaces of class

· class, capitalism and environment in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)

· changing geographies of accumulation and resistance

· working class movements today

· class strategies against the crisis and 'austerity'

· revisiting Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class

· revisiting the legacy of CLR James

· history of the international communist movement

· Marxism and theories of intersectionality

· class struggle and political organisation, party andclass

· theories of class formation and class composition

· crisis, austerity, and proletarianisation

· class and the agrarian question

· class, literature and literary theory

· cultures of class

· 'class struggle without classes'

· class, poverty, inequality

· representing class and capital in art and culture

· proletarianisation, pauperisation and precarity

SOAS, London

United Kingdom