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Food, glorious food


Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd July, 2012

The British Library Conference Centre, London

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Janet Poppendieck, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA and Alan Warde, University of Manchester, UK

Early booking deadline 24th June 2012 – don’t miss out!

Following the phenomenal success of previous years, the Food Study Group Conference ‘Food and Society 2012’ is back for a 3rd year and this year looks set to be bigger and better than ever!

This 3rd international Conference will look to further examine the role of food in contemporary society through a sociological lens, examining the empirical questions raised by the relation of food to social and intergenerational inequalities. It will also explore the theoretical issues of food as an item of consumption, cultural symbol and commodity, as well as the ever-present environmental concerns and critical implications for food systems and eating practices.

These key themes will be analysed and discussed over 2 days and whether you are an academic, a practitioner, a policy maker or another research user, we would encourage everyone to come together and share in what is sure to be another fascinating event.

The early booking deadline is coming up and registration will soon close. Book now through our website for as little £155 (48% discount), or if you are a concessionary member £70!

To book online and to find out more about speakers and the programme, visit our website:

Given the emphasis on social scientific approaches, and to enable the committee to select and group papers appropriately, abstract authors are asked to indicate, where relevant, the theoretical and methodological approach in addition to the substantive focus.

Please direct any academic enquiries to and any administrative enquiries to


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Prabhat Patnaik: Capitalism at an Impasse
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
6.30 – 8.30 pm in the Skylight Room
Discussant: Don Robotham, Professor of Anthropology

Prabhat Patnaik is a renowned Marxist economist and political writer, vice-chairman of the Kerala State Planning Board, and member of a four-person UN task force on the 2008 financial crisis. He taught economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi for over thirty years. Prior to the lecture, from 4 pm to 6 pm in Room 5109 there is also a seminar, open to the public, with Professor Patnaik to discuss economic recession and the world food crisis.

A pre-circulated paper, “The Emerging Context for Social Science Practice,” is accessible through

Presented in partnership with the The GC Marxist Reading Group (

The Center for Place, Culture and Politics Email: 


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“The Food Crisis: Implications for Decent Work in Rural and Urban Areas”

The International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) Annual Thematic Conference –University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany, July 4-6

In recent years, food prices have gone up to prohibitive levels for many of the world’s poor. They have remained high and volatile. While many poor city dwellers have had to switch their diets to include only very basic foods, the vast majority of those who are hungry in the world today (over half a billion) are working in agriculture, either as small landholders or as waged agricultural workers. This paradox has sparked a lively debate about the reasons for food price increases. However, the implications for the Decent Work agenda have received less attention. The four dimensions of the Decent Work concept (creating jobs, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection and promoting social dialogue) do not explicitly cover the issue of rising food prices. On the one hand, price increases for the most basic household items threaten any gains achieved through the Decent Work agenda. On the other hand, increased food prices may in principle provide an opportunity for agricultural labour, yet the majority of the food producers seem not to have benefited from rising prices. Apparently, the bargaining power of many producers has been weakened vis-à-vis the buyers of agricultural produce. This development points to another dimension not explicitly addressed by the Decent Work agenda: power relations along the food chain. TheInternationalCenterfor Development and Decent Work (ICDD) wants to commit its Annual Thematic Conference “The Food Crisis: Implications for Decent Work in Rural and Urban Areas” to an exploration of the origins of the food crisis, its implications for the Decent Work agenda, and strategies for addressing the crisis.

The general themes to be discussed are:

Assessing the Scope of the Food Crisis: Is there a rural – urban divide? What is the impact on workers and small landholders? What are the implications for the Decent Work agenda?

Origins of the Food Crisis: Financialization, land grabbing, climate change and soil degradation, agribusiness, agro-fuels, EU trade policies, demography, productivity obstacles, and other relevant topics.

Remedies for the Food Crisis: Increasing agricultural productivity, improving logistics, empowering agricultural workers, food sovereignty, and other relevant topics.

We encourage potential contributors to include a gender-sensitive analysis whenever possible.

If you would like to present a paper in one of these areas, please send a brief abstract (less than half a page) by April 1, 2012 to:

Please include the following information:




Professor Dr. Christoph Scherrer, “Globalisierung & Politik”, FB 5 – Gesellschaftswissenschaften, Universität Kassel, Nora-Platiel-Straße 1, D-34127 Kassel, Tel.: +49 (0) 561 804 3253 Sekr.,


InternationalCenterfor Development and Decent Work:

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IKSA – InternationalKasselSummerAcademyon the World Economy:


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Global Crisis


A new book by

Murray E.G. Smith

    • ISBN: 9781552663530
    • Price: $24.95 CAD
    • Publication Date: Mar 2010
    • Rights: World
    • Pages: 172

The world economy is currently experiencing a devastating slump not seen since the Second World War. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing and salaries are plummeting in the developed world, while astronomical food prices and starvation ravage the developing world. The crisis in global capitalism, Smith argues, should be understood as both a composite crisis of overproduction, credit and finance, and a deep-seated systemic crisis. Using Marx to analyze the origins, implications and scope of the current economic slump, this book argues that the crisis needs to be understood structurally, as the result of a system prone to crisis, rather than as an aberration.

The Global Economic Crisis: A Marxist Perspective • A Summary of Marx’s Theories of Value, Capital and Crisis • The Necessity of Value Theory: Brenner’s Analysis of the “Long Downturn” and Marx’s Theory of Crisis • Class Struggle and Socialist Transformation: Beyond the Law of Value • The Global Crisis, Marxism and the Malaise of the Anti-Capitalist Left • Appendix 1, The Controversy Surrounding Marx’s Theory of Value • Appendix 2, Socially Necessary Unproductive Labour in Contemporary Capitalism • Bibliography • Index

Murray E.G. Smith is Professor of Sociology and Labour Studies at Brock University

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Capitalism in Crisis

Capitalism in Crisis



The International Institute for Research and Education:

Seminar: Towards A Marxist Analysis of the Global Crisis

On 2-4 October, the IIRE held its first international Economy Seminar on the Global Crisis. Thirty-six participants, economists and non-specialists, from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America attended the three-day event which was open to activists from different tendencies of the radical left.

The objectives of the seminar were to analyse the nature, characteristics and consequences of the current global economic crisis, from perspectives relevant to social activists, and to fortify the global network of Marxist economists. All talks will be available at the IIRE podcast, which we expect to launch with the next newsletter. For now it is possible to download all the talks in one file (original languages, more than 500MB).

Three main questions guided the various sessions of the weekend. First, what is the nature or cause of the crisis? Second, what are the social, economic and political consequences? Finally, what are the links between the current economic crisis and the global ecological and food crises? A solid look at Keynesianism, Ernest Mandel’s contribution on long waves and economic cycles and a (self-) critical take on discourse and propaganda were activities that peppered the debates.

The seminar kicked off with a well-attended public meeting on the crisis with guest speakers Chris Harman of the SWP in Britain and IIRE fellows Michel Husson of the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies and Claudio Katz of the University of Buenos Aires.

François Chesnais (France) opened the seminar itself with an introduction on the role that the so-called financialisation of the economy had in the global crisis. He stated that the crisis cannot be labelled either financial or financialised. Rather, the current crisis has its roots deep in the process of capital accumulation, which, revealing its contradictions, should lead us to look at the dynamics of productivity, the rate of profit and its distribution. The discussion that followed generated a debate between over-accumulation versus under-consumption as explanations for understanding the crisis.

Ozlem Onaran (Turkey), Claudio Katz (Argentina) and Bruno Jetin (France) presented reports on the conditions of the European, Latin American and Asian economies. The debates paved the way for a deeper understanding on how the crisis is perceived and dealt with in the different regions. Participants concluded that an essential characteristic of the crisis is the lack of de-linking tendencies among countries and continents; on the contrary, the efforts to save capitalism have been concerted and almost unanimous.

Michel Husson (France) and Klaus Engert (Germany) analysed the crisis in the framework of the theory of long waves. According to this theory, elaborated by IIRE founder Ernest Mandel, it is possible to use important endogenous factors, i.e. related to the logic of capital and its internal contradictions, to explain the general fall in accumulation that began during the 1970s and has not yet concluded. This discussion left open the possibility of a new ascending wave of economic growth and capitalist accumulation dependent on such exogenous factors as a radical change of the relationship of forces between the classes. One of the conclusions, therefore, was that another wave of attacks on the working class is most likely on its way.

Eric Toussaint (Belgium) emphasised that there is no automatic link between the fact that the crisis is being paid for by workers and the popular masses, and an increase of social struggles. Political, ideological and organisational factors will also play a role in the development of the struggles.

Esther Vivas (Spain) and Daniel Tanuro (Belgium) brought in a fundamental analytical dimension with their introductions: the economic crisis cannot be observed in isolation from the global ecological and food crises. Vivas presented the causes and structure of the food crisis: the current model of agricultural and livestock production is in a large measure responsible for climate change. Tanuro demonstrated how the official, ruling class responses to climate change are insufficient, unreal, irrational and even put us in more danger. He argued that eco-socialists should push for and end to unnecessary production, the retraining of workers in affected sectors and the development of a new agricultural model instigated by radical anti-capitalist measures.

Overall, the analyses revealed that the crisis is systemic, that those who are paying for it are the popular and working classes, and that now, more then ever, it is necessary to build an emancipatory, global anti-capitalist and eco-socialist project.

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Historical Materialism Sixth Annual Conference


27-29 November 2009, Central London

Another World is Necessary: Crisis, Struggle and Political Alternatives

Co-sponsored by Socialist Register and the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher  Prize

The world economy is traversing a sweeping crisis whose outcomes are still uncertain, but whose scope is undeniable. The name of Marx is now occasionally, if nervously, invoked in the financial press. The neo-liberal project is being reconfigured, and some have even rushed to pronounce it dead. Imperial strategies are being redrawn, while ecological and food crises deepen on a global scale. This situation of instability and uncertainty unquestionably lends itself to incisive analyses drawing upon and critically innovating the traditions of historical materialism. Critical Marxist theorists have already shed considerable light on the mechanisms and tendencies underlying the current crises and emphasised the conflicts and contradictions that are emerging as they develop.

Following upon previous annual conferences which worked towards a recomposition of an international Marxist intellectual sphere, this year’s Historical Materialism conference hopes to serve as a forum for papers and debates that will gauge the capacity of contemporary Marxism to confront this critical conjuncture and its multiple facets, both analytically and politically. We hope that the conference will serve not only as a collective investigation into the numerous global scenarios of capitalist crisis, but also as the opportunity to inquire – drawing on the political and conceptual reservoir of many Marxist traditions – into the class formations, political forces and organisational forms capable of responding combatively and inventively to the current situation. While the hegemony of a one-dimensional neo-liberalism demanded the affirmation that other worlds were possible, the current crises require arguments to demonstrate how we might achieve the other world that is now more than ever necessary.

In keeping with the multi-disciplinary and exploratory character of the journal, we welcome abstracts on any matter of relevance to critical Marxist theory, but will especially welcome papers responding directly to the call, or dealing with some of the following issues:

    • Theories of crisis, and their history
    • Neo-liberalism in retreat?
    • Histories of class struggle, crisis, and revolution
    • Socialist Feminist Responses to Crisis
    • The future of the new imperialism
    • ‘Neo-Keynesian’ responses to the crisis
    • Environmental crisis and eco-socialism
    • Left interventions in the crisis
    • Utopian and non-utopian Marxisms
    • Political agency and subjectivity
    • Theories of political organisation
    • Political economy and labour in contemporary cultural theory
    • Class struggle and class composition today
    • The geography and urbanisation of contemporary capitalism
    • Non-Marxist traditions on the Left
    • Marxist perspectives contemporary art, art history and visual culture
    • Displacing crisis onto the Global South
    • War, militarism, insecurity, and violence
    • Immigration, migrant labour, and anti-racism
    • Socialism in the Twenty-First Century

Note to all those who wish to propose papers and panels: instructions will follow shortly on the procedure for proposals. PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM UNTIL THESE INSTRUCTIONS HAVE BEEN CIRCULATED.

Preference will be given to subscribers to the journal.

Please note also that participants are expected to attend the whole conference – special arrangements for speaking on certain days only cannot be made, except for very extreme circumstances.

Deadline for abstracts: 1 May 2009.


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