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National Communication Association (NCA) Preconvention Seminar
“Revolutionary Voices: Marxism, Communication, and Social Change”
10:30 am-5:00 PM, Wednesday, November 16th.
New Orleans, LA

In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the subsequent worldwide retreat of the communist and socialist Left, the very concept of “revolution” was deemed by many theorists to be outdated and passé. Liberal, poststructuralist and conservative intellectuals jointly proclaimed Marxist project -with its emphasis on class struggle, anti-imperialism and a totalizing critique of capitalism– no longer relevant to an understanding of our “postmodern” world. Today, with the popular uprisings associated with the “Arab Spring” roiling dictatorships in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen and with the global capitalist economy just barely emerging from the throes of its worst crisis since the Great Depression, Marxism is not so easily dismissed. The recent popularity of thinkers like Giovanni Arrighi, Alain Badiou, Antonio Negri, David Harvey and Slavoj Zizek suggests a renewal of scholarly interest in Marxist and post-Marxist theory. The fact that Karl Marx himself was featured on the cover of the February 2, 2009 TIME Magazine suggests that this revival of interest is not confined to the academy.

This pre-convention conference aims to explore the continued relevance of Marxism and Marxist theoretical concepts (i.e. ideology, hegemony, class, dialectics, reification, commodification ) to the study of communication, focusing on communication’s instrumental role in maintaining, perpetuating and contesting capitalism’s structures of domination. Unlike other theoretical orientations within the social sciences and the humanities, Marxism has long insisted that theory be informed by and inform social and political praxis. Thus, one special emphasis of our discussions will be on the way that Marxist work in field of communication can help to advance and clarify current struggles for progressive social change in the US and around the world. Moreover, at a time when even the mainstream corporate press speaks openly of the revolutionary currents spreading across North Africa and the Middle East, we will devote special attention to the concept of “revolution” and the way that it can refine and enhance our understanding of communication, political conflict and social change.

We hope that by bringing together a critical mass of scholars whose work is informed by Marxist theory, our seminar will “make a difference” both in our discipline and in the larger fight for social justice. Ultimately, we plan to publish an edited volume or a special issue of an academic journal as a way of bringing the scholarship produced by seminar participants to an even larger audience.

This mini-conference builds on a series of NCA panels, pre-conference seminars and publications about Marxism and communication that began with a well-attended panel at the 2003 NCA convention in Miami. Last year’s mini-conference “Bridging Theory and Practice” drew dozens of participants to a series of three inter-related panels at the national conference in San Francisco. The year before that, in Chicago, our panel “The 2009 Crisis of Neoliberalism: Marxist Scholars on Rhetorics of Stability and Change,” drew a standing-room-only crowd. And in 2006, three of the co-organizers of this seminar (Artz, Cloud and Macek) published an anthology — Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change It (Peter Lang)-composed almost entirely of conference papers delivered at our NCA panels and seminars. This seems to us an opportune moment for yet another pre-convention seminar and yet another publication devoted to this topic.

The organizers invite potential participants to submit complete papers or extended abstracts (350-500 words) relevant to the subject of Marxism, communication and social change for inclusion in this pre-convention seminar. Work in political economy of the media, cultural studies, rhetoric, critical theory, social movement studies and political communication is especially welcome. Send your submissions along with complete contact information (mailing address, e-mail and phone #) to both Steve Macek (at and Dana Cloud (at no later than August 8th, 2011.

Steve Macek
Associate Professor
Speech Communication
Program Coordinator, Urban and Suburban Studies
North Central College
30 N. Brainard
Naperville, IL 60540-4690
Phone: 630-637-5369
Fax: 630-637-5140

Out now from U of MN Press:
Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right, and the Moral Panic over the City. Winner of the 2006 Urban Communication Foundation Publication Award.
ISBN: ISBN 0-8166-4361-X

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A project in collaboration with East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program
Metelkova, Ljubljana, 27th April – 2nd May 2011

Self-Management: The aim of the school will be to explore the relevance of the concept of workers’ self-management today – in a contradictory historical moment, when the search for an alternative to a capitalist mode of production is becoming more and more urgent and when there are self-management experiments emerging in places, where capitalist organization of production had the most devastating consequences (for example during Argentina’s financial collapse or in the deindustrialized zones of China and Russia), while at the same time capital itself tries to both cut the costs of management and to discipline the work force by utilizing certain technologies of organization of production reminiscent of self-management – and to critically examine the history of theories and practices of self-management, especially its Yugoslav version.

Main topics of the School: Yugoslav self-management: Was Yugoslav self-management a part of or an alternative to actually-existing socialisms? What was the relation between the workers’ councils movement in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia and Yugoslav self-management? What were the theoretical and political foundations of Yugoslav self-management? What was the relation between various failed European uprisings, based on workers’ self-management, before the Second World War and strivings for self-management in Eastern European socialism after the war?

Self-management today: Theory and practice of workers’ takeovers of factories and companies in Latin America and postsocialist countries, self-management as a part of Bolivarian ‘socialism for 21st century’, social-democratic and corporatist models of self-management (Sweden, Spain, Japan), autonomous communities and autonomous zones.

Theories of self-management: Self-management and Marx/Marxism, relations between socialist economic theories and social regimes on the one hand and self-management on the other, polemical engagements between Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin and between humanist Marxism and dialectical materialists, the role of the concept of class struggle in theories of self-management.

Politics of self-management: Communism as an association of free producers (self-management as a basic form of organization of communist society), the question of abolishment of classes and the state (self-management as a form of post-class and unhierarchical organization of production), the question of party and political representation (self-management as a form of also political and not only economical organization), the question of democracy (and economic democracy).


Working languages of the school will be ex-YU languages and English.

Each speaker will have 30 minutes available for a talk and 10 for a discussion.

Submission guidelines: submissions for presentations should include paper abstracts of max. 200 words, half a page CV, affiliation and contact details.

Submissions deadline: submissions of abstracts are expected by April 10, 2011.

Acceptance decisions will be communicated to the submitters by April 20, 2011.

We especially encourage participants from Central-Eastern Europe and the Balkans to apply.

Travel and accommodation costs will be covered for the selected participants (all the details will be communicated after the selection directly with the selected participants).

Please send inquiries to:


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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

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