Theory

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Occupations Conference
Toronto, Canada, April 27-29, 2012

CFP for Occupations
York & Ryerson Universities
Toronto, April 27-29, 2012—proposals due on February 1.

Some updates for Intersections / Cross Sections 2012: Occupations. See below for CFP.

1) We are extremely happy to announce Brian Holmes (Continental Drift) and Sarah Sharma (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) as our keynotes. Stay posted for additional speakers.

2) Edu-Factory’s “Our University! A Conference on Struggles Within and Beyond the Neoliberal University ” will be held in Toronto the same weekend. For more information on the Edu-Factory conference, see http://www.edu-factory.org/wp/the-university-is-ours/

3) There’s an Occupy Toronto Activist Assembly, January 20, 2012–January 22, 2012, at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) @ St. George and Bloor Street, Toronto, ON. For more information, see https://www.facebook.com/events/270078499716966/

INTERSECTIONS / CROSS SECTIONS 2012: OCCUPATIONS
11th Annual Graduate Conference in Communication and Culture
York University and Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada
April 27-29, 2012
http://thecomcult.wordpress.com
Keynotes: Brian Holmes, Continental Drift and Sarah Sharma, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Occupy but better yet, self manage…. The former option is basically passive—the latter is active and yields tasks and opportunities to contribute.… To occupy buildings, especially institutions like universities or media, isn’t just a matter of call it, or tweet it, and they will come. It is a matter of go get them, inform them, inspire them, enlist them, empower them, and they will come." — Michael Albert, “Occupy to Self Manage”

The unfolding events at Occupy Wall Street and elsewhere present possibilities for new politics, and new forms of learning from, living with and engaging each other. Occupations are attempts to build the social compositions that are the precondition for action. They are the working through of a problem that politics-as-usual works to suppress—the massive exploitation that is capitalism and the emergence of politics adequate to address it. At this stage, occupations are the connection of people, ideas and machines—the cumulation of assemblages that might build something. What happens next depends on what is being built now. We invite graduate students from all related disciplines to submit proposals for academic, artistic and activist presentations and workshops that explore and otherwise critically engage occupations.

Loren Goldner's Marx's Capital Study Group
New York City, January 2012

A new study group on Marx's Capital is forming in the New York City area, starting in mid-January.

We will meet on Thursday nights, every other week, starting either Jan. 12 or Jan. 19.

Location to be determined.

We will begin with some of Marx's pre-Capital writings from the 1840's and 1850's as essential background. There will be about 100 pages of reading per session.

The group will be highly participatory, with all members expected to do 15-20 minute presentations on aspects of the reading.

Theses for Discussion
Loren Goldner

1) CONTRACTING SOCIAL REPRODUCTION

The current crisis, on a world scale, began ca. 1970, as the postwar boom—reconstruction from the destruction of the 1914- 1945 period—exhausted itself, first in the US, and then shortly thereafter in Europe and Japan. Since that time, capitalism has struggled to “recompose” itself, through a grinding down of social reproduction, most importantly of the total working class wage bill (“V”) and aspects of constant capital (“C”),both fixed capital and infrastructure. It has done this by debt pyramiding, outsourcing of production around the world, technological innovation (in telecommunications, transportation and technology-intensive production), all having the same goal of transferring “V” and “C” to “S” (surplus value), while enforcing an overall NON-REPRODUCTION of labor power.

From Inoperativeness to Action: On Giorgio Agamben’s Anarchism
Lorenzo Fabbri

The recent publication by Stanford University Press of Giorgio Agamben’s What Is an Apparatus and Other Essays constitutes a very welcome occasion. The essays included in What Is an Apparatus? offer a very accessible pan over Agamben’s latest findings and give the readers an outline of the move from sovereignty to governmentality performed by Agamben in his 2007 The Kingdom and The Glory. Homo Sacer II.2, as well as providing some hints on the vectors that the announced Homo Sacer epilogue on forms-of-life will pursue. Yet, the importance of this book reaches well beyond Agamben scholarship: it provides also an opportunity to reflect on the status and on the mutation of critical theory today, as French can no longer claim any hegemony over it and as its most vital centers are now located across the Alps, beyond the Rhine, and on the other side of the Atlantic rather than in Rue d’Ulm or Saint-Denis. I will say something about the future of “theory” at the end of my essay. For now, I would like to start by briefly surveying what was left under-explored in Leland de la Durantaye’s recent and impressive introduction to Agamben, not to belittle his enterprise but only to sketch a complementary reading protocol. While de la Durantaye dismisses Agamben’s anarchic overtones, my intention is to show that anarchism lies at the heart of his philosophical project.

The Trouble With Binary Thinking
John Michael Greer

Last week's post here on The Archdruid Report discussed the magical
implications of getting out from under the influence of the mass media
and popular culture, and thus from the dumbing-down effects these things
exert on the mind. That's a crucial step, but it's only a first step,
because as soon as you extract all that thaumaturgy from your mind,
something is going to fill the resulting void.

Entire industries exist to see to it that what fills the void is simply
another version of what you tried to get rid of. The sorry fate of the
so-called Voluntary Simplicity movement of a few years back makes a good
case study of the way these industries work. It was a bad move right at
the beginning, to be sure, that the founders of the movement watered
down Thoreau's original and far more powerful phrase "voluntary poverty"
so that it didn't frighten their middle-class target audience. As soon
as the idea began to attract attention, that first mistake became the
opening wedge that admitted a series of marketing campaigns that pitched
supposedly "simpler" consumer products to a mostly privileged audience
at steep prices.

The Revolutionary Intervention in the Crisis of Modernism:
Democratic Autonomy, Turkey, and the Kurdish Movement
Cengiz Baysoy, Otonom

Both the Turkish state and the left have been in deadlock in terms of understanding the point the Kurdish political movement has come up to. The state and the modernist left both have difficulty making sense of a national political movement which criticizes and refuses the paradigm of “nation state.”

The traditional point of view of the modernist left on the issue is as follows: “The right of nations to self-determination is the right to political borders and independence against imperialism, i.e. the right to a nation state. Furthermore, unless this right has an anti-imperialist character, it is impossible to be progressive.”

The left considers the Kurdish political movement from this political point of view, and tries to take this movement under the political dominion of this paradigm. It seems that the modernist left is incapable of making sense of the Kurdish political movement other than this way, whereas the Kurdish political movement thinks and speaks very differently from this political paradigm.

ephemera cfp: communism of capital?

Call for Papers for an ephemera Special Issue on: Communism of Capital?
Issue Editors: Armin Beverungen, Anna-Maria Murtola and Gregory Schwartz
Deadline for submissions: 29 February 2012

Today, neoliberal capitalism is increasingly put into question. Whereas two decades ago business school gurus argued that the US was ‘the most “socialist” country around’ (Drucker, 1993: 6), today’s self-appointed business leaders know they cannot do without a certain communism. George Soros, Bill Gates and others refer to themselves – not without irony – as ‘liberal communists’ (Žižek, 2008a). Recognising the evils induced by capitalism these patricians of the market proselytise market philanthropy to deliver many of the ostensible benefits of the communism of yore. Newsweek, reflecting on the national bailout of the banks in response to the financial crisis, declared: ‘We are all socialists now’ (Meacham, 2009). Yet, the one thing that seems beyond question in such projections of communism is capital itself.

Anarchist, Liberal and Authoritarian Enlightenments: Notes From the Arab Spring
Mohammed A. Bamyeh

The Arab spring, as far as we can see, appears to require no guardian intellectual authority, no political leadership, no organized parties. In fact even after revolutionary success, those elements still fail to materialize: there is no party of the revolution anywhere, no leader emerges to embody its historical spirit, and intellectuals still ponder the meaning of revolutions that most of them endorsed but none expected. Furthermore, these apparent absences—political, organizational, intellectual--were not due to any unfamiliarity with parties, leaders, ideologues or ideologies of revolt, for all of those have been tried before.

A revolution is an experiment in enlightenment. Experiments, as we know, may succeed, fail, or suggest revisions in their method, sometimes a reconsideration of what they are supposed to discover. 19th century revolutionary thought in Europe is often traced to the Enlightenment critique of the arbitrariness of absolute power, and to the Enlightenment's elaboration of the creative capacity of human will, reason, and freedom. Since these philosophical propositions were social in their implications, they could only be verified (or amended, or abandoned) only with the aid of grand experiments in the political, cultural and economic realms.

CFP Post/autonomia Amsterdam May 19-22
Amsterdam, 19-22 May 2011
University of Amsterdam/SMART Project Space

Keynotes from: Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Vittorio Morfino, Matteo Pasquinelli, and Stevphen Shukaitis

Immaterial labour; multitude; the communism of capital; commons; precarity; biopolitics: autonomist thought has undoubtedly provided contemporary critical theory with some of its major concepts and/or allowed for an important reconsidering of these. Most importantly, autonomist thought has been at the forefront of thinking the crucial shifts in contemporary capitalism and its effects in both the social and cultural sphere. Autonomism’s impact on current critical theory in both European and American academia can therefore hardly be underestimated. Moreover, today we witness a resurgence of autonomist models of activism and thought in social movements in for example Italy, Greece, the UK and California.

Radical Foucault: A One Day Conference Centre for Cultural Studies Research, University of East London (culturalstudiesresearch.org) Friday September 9th, 2011 The publication of Michel Foucault's Lectures at the Collège de France, 1983-84 in English will be complete in April 2011 and his first Collège de France lecture course, La Volunté de Savoir will be published for the first time in February. The Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London is holding a one-day conference on Friday, September 9th, 2011 which will re-assess Foucault's contribution to radical thought and the application of his ideas to contemporary politics. What does it mean to draw on Foucault as a resource for radical politics, and how are we to understand the politics which implicitly informs his work?
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