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Marxism and Art

SENSATIONAL MARXISMS: TOWARDS A COMMUNISM OF THE SENSES

Call for Papers

AAG 2011 – Seattle, USA, 12-16 April

Session organisers – Alex Loftus (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester)

Liberating ourselves from the horrors of the present requires an artistic and sensuous imagination that will be transformed in the coming of a future society. Sensuous experience is the raw material from which a revolutionary project might be realised. Equally, sensuous experience provokes new forms of political subjectivity. This is at the heart of Ranciere’s understanding of “the distribution of the sensible” and the relationship he theorises between politics and aesthetics. It might also be traced to other threads of Marxist thought. In part inspired by Epicurus, Marx thought deeply about sensuousness. He clearly also understood this through an artistic model (as Lefebvre claimed, Marx “imagines a society in which everyone would…perceive the world through the eyes of an artist, enjoy the sensuous through the eyes of a painter, the ears of a musician and the language of a poet”).

Discussions of affect and the affective within Geography have rarely included such considerations. Nevertheless, emerging practices within a relational and post-relational aesthetics have drawn significantly from new communist theory (Badiou, Zizek, Nancy) and reconnected with Marx’s theorisation of the senses (Roberts 2009). For Toscano (2008), this places the question of a “communism of the senses” within an understanding of both aesthetic and Marxist thought. At the same time, with the publication of Merrifield’s (2011) Magical Marxism, we have been challenged to think more freely about the positive foundations on which we struggle for radical change. As Merrifield writes: “Politics more than anything needs the magical touch of dream and desire, needs the shock of the poetic”.

This session will explore the role of poetics and sensuousness within politics and the struggle for a future society. Possible topics are:

·         The role of the senses in an “inaugural communism”
·         Marxist thought and relational sensuousness
·         Politics, aesthetics and the new communist theory
·         Magical, sensational marxisms
·         The Politics of the Senses
·         The Communist Imaginary today
·         Sensuous communist geographies
·         Emerging Communist Geographies

If you are interested in participating, please contact either Alex Loftus (alex.loftus@rhul.ac.uk) or Erik Swyngedouw (erik.swyngedouw@manchester.ac.uk).

Erik Swyngedouw
Professor of Geography
School of Environment and Development
Manchester University

New books:
Heynen N, Kaika M, Swyngedouw E (Eds.) In the Nature of Cities, Routledge, London and New York, 2005.

Swyngedouw Erik, Social Power and the Urbanization of Water Flows of Power, Oxford University Press, 2004.
ISBN 0-19-823391-4

Webpage: http://www.sed.manchester.ac.uk/geography/staff/swyngedouw_erik.htm

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