Skip navigation

Karl Polanyi


Twelfth International Karl Polanyi Conference
Karl Polanyi and Latin America

National University General Sarmiento Los Polvorines­Buenos Aires, Argentina November 8­9, 2012
Co-organized by the Conurbano Institute, National University General Sarmiento, Argentina and the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, Concordia University, Canada

At the present time, can nations and peoples defend their sovereignty and protect their societies from subordination to global capital and dependence on economic and political centers?

In Latin America, in particular, there is evidence of encouraging signs:
a) National-popular processes supported by new social movements that question the neoliberal economic rationale and in some cases propose new paradigms: socialism for the XXIst century, vivir bien/ buen vivir, that give priority to guaranteeing the livelihood of all citizens, respecting cultural diversity and harmony with nature.
b) Interstate forms of solidarity (UNASUR, CELAC)1 to resist North American hegemony that increases the capacity for greater autarchy and sovereignty to confront the economic, political, and cultural
domination of the neoliberal project and the continuous commodification of all aspects of life.
c) The search for new frameworks of social and political thought, particularly the so-called “decoloniality” that converges with important historical trends in the region. Others include the theology and pedagogy of liberation, dependency theory, new variants of socialism, the peasants’ movement, the worldview of indigenous peoples, the contemporary feminist struggle against patriarchy and the struggle for the rights of nature.

In Polanyi’s terms, are these processes temporary responses to the crisis of the world capitalist order, or true “counter-movements” that challenge neoconservative projects and the dominant neoliberal paradigm? If so, can they lead to the re-embedding of the economy into more just and democratic societies? Can this be a historic turning point that could spread to other societies that have experienced capitalist development and now confront problems of their own and of the planet, resulting in another “great transformation”, or an “another globalization”? Is there a risk that the latent global crisis will push democracy inLatin America and other regions of the world towards new forms of fascism?

Given the structural failure of the global market to provide workers with dignified wages – the erosion of the social foundations of life as foreseen by Marx and Polanyi – and inspired by the Union of South American Nations , Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the World Social Forum’s slogan that “another world (and another economy) is possible”, civil society organizations and increasingly governments in Latin America, are developing initiatives to promote new forms of self-managed and associational work and to revitalize indigenous communal activities. What is the transformational potential of these tendencies? How can the popular masses protect themselves when the management of the global capital crisis is focused on the interests of core countries? Is it sufficient to promote associationalism and redistribution, or is it necessary to reinvent the State? In particular, should generalized cash income transfers to individuals or families that broaden redistribution, a concept central to Polanyi, become a new right of citizens to basic income, thereby reducing indigence and poverty? Could we thus achieve a just society without transforming the relationship between the state, the economy, and society as well as the socioeconomic models that today reinforce the concentration of economic power?

The ecological crisis – the erosion of the natural foundations of life also foreseen by Marx and Polanyi – has led to a multiplicity of local and global movements to defend the balance with nature lost to global market forces. Is it possible to include our long-term concern about the planet in the short-term agendas of governments oriented to legitimize themselves through elections or the struggle of popular social movements for survival? If the possibility of unlimited growth is ruled out (which was one of Polanyi’s concerns), can the new movements for responsible consumption contribute to building “another economy”?

Regardless of the nomenclature – social economy, solidarity economy, community economy, popular economy, social and solidarity economy, to name a few – new initiatives are emerging in both the North and in the South. Are they similar in scope and in scale in the center and in the periphery? What role does planning and restructuring of national or regional economies play in an era of globalization (greater autarchy, as in food sovereignty)? Can new forms of reciprocity and fair trade (truly non commoditized) be amplified at the international level? How plausible is the convergence and complementarities between these movements for another economy in the North and in the South?

The resonance of Karl Polanyi’s ideas on these issues is recognized by scholars across disciplines. Since the 2012 international conference is being held in Latin America, it will address other issues that are important for Polanyi scholars:

Why did Polanyi not include the colonization process of America and the co-constitution of America and Europe in his reconstruction of the process of evolution of the market and capitalism, that are at the core of decolonial thought today?

Why did Polanyi not show any interest in the issue of development, the paradigm for social transformation in this region that dominated the twentieth century?

What can we obtain by combining Marx’s approach to the modes of production, ever present in the social sciences and in the history of this region, with Polanyi’s patterns of integration?

Are there important and relevant differences between the liberalism to which Polanyi referred to and the neoliberalism of today?

How can we interpret Polanyi’s analysis of religion in terms of Latin American liberation theology?

Can we apply Polanyi’s analysis of corporatism to the present structure of Latin American societies?

How can we compare Polanyi’s analysis of the crisis of international capitalism with the contemporary global crisis and, in particular, with reference to governance and interstate relations?

As in all previous International Polanyi Conferences, papers on the life and work of Karl Polanyi are welcome as well as papers from academics and /or professionals on the contemporary relevance of Karl Polanyi’s thought.

Simultaneous interpretation (Spanish / English) will be available.
Abstracts (maximum 250 words) should be sent before March 15th, 2012 to:

Conference Organizing Committee:
Honorary Chairperson: Kari Polanyi Levitt, Mc Gill University, Canada
José Luís Coraggio, National University General Sarmiento, Argentina
Margie Mendell, Concordia University, Canada
Jean­Louis Laville, Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (CNAM, Paris), France
Antonio David Cattani, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Registration Fees:
Non­Latin Americans:
Registration fee: $250 US – Meals: $50 US (Two lunches and coffee breaks)
Latin Americans:
Registration fees: $150 US – Meals: $50 (Two lunches and coffee break)
Registration Fee: $50 US – Meals: $50 (Two lunches and coffee break)


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)

‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (recording) and (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales)  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a new song by Victor Rikowski:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

MySpace Profile:

The Ockress:

Rikowski Point:


Online Publications at:

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: