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Social Class

Social Class



Conference: ‘Social Class in the 21st Century’

October 22-23, 2015



Intersections between class, gender and sexuality revisited

The question of social class has re-emerged as a central concern for the analysis and politics of gender and sexuality in the public sphere in many societies worldwide. The ascent and subsequent crisis of global neoliberalism have been deeply implicated in growing inequalities, which have affected the shape of gender and sexual meanings and relations in fundamental ways.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Cecilia Ridgeway and Professor Anoop Nayak + Roundtable by Professor Gloria Wekker

  • Whereas some women have emerged as highly successful agents in the new global economy, their ascent to wealth and power is almost always contingent upon the labor and ongoing exclusion of other – the working classes, the poor, migrants, and/or women of colour.
  • Similarly, with the introduction of some openly lesbian women and gay men into the cosmopolitan-managerial and so-called ‘creative’ global classes, very particular articulations of LGBTQ identity and culture – mostly middle-class and ‘homonormative’ – have become more visible.
  • At the same time alternative and marginalized expressions of LGBTQ identity have increasingly disappeared from public view. Among other factors, social class has played a key role in these dynamics. While institutional sexism and homophobia have perhaps lessened for social upper classes, the social exclusion of others has increased as the result of growing inequality and precarity.
  • These dynamics call for greater attention to the interconnections between social class, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality.

Focus on Class

Contemporary global developments exemplify what has long been seen as a central topic of scholarly inquiry: class and other social and cultural divisions have affected lived experiences and have had an impact on people’s abilities and opportunities, as well as on their constructions of gender and sexual identities, categories, and politics. A focus on ‘inclusion’, equal rights and democratic citizenship runs the danger of obscuring growing structural inequalities. Inside and outside of the academy, intersectional and other new forms of critical analysis have gone a long way in accounting for such inequalities, as well as for the divergent social positioning of actors. Nonetheless, these new approaches have not been productive on all levels of social relations and dynamics. Partly as the result of the crisis of Marxism and the theoretical problems associated with overtly reductive class analyses, the effects of class on gender and sexuality remain under-theorized and have suffered from insufficient empirical investigation.

The dominance of white, middle-class, homonormative, and cisgender LGBTQ cultures and identities in scholarly debates conceals class differences and the dominance of a particular ontology. A focus on class and its interconnection with race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality enables scholars to take seriously the complexities of contemporary gender and sexual dynamics in a global world. Class analysis not only unveils inequality but brings to light difference, distinction and dissent, both between and within social groups. Such an analysis questions the dominance of particular identities, but does not satisfy itself with explanations attributing alternative experiences to essentialized or depoliticized notions of cultural difference.

Dominance of global Western ontologies

A major question that needs to be addressed is the dominance of global Western ontologies in the study of social class. North–south comparisons (as well as comparisons unsettling this binary) will bring fresh insights into the way in which global dynamics have reconfigured relations between classes or the concept of class itself.

For instance, class identification in many parts of the world is a matter of how well connected one is transnationally, resulting in specific forms of gender inequality. Transnational migration also reveals class dynamics in configuration with sexuality, from exploitation and labour rights in migrant sex work to examples of successful transgender migration patterns. Neo-liberalisation is often and rightly so critiqued for creating (more) inequalities, but for some groups in the global South it also implies new opportunities. Recent studies on the global middle classes, for instance, have also emphasized the symbolic meaning of class. Eventually, such studies point out the necessity of questioning how the material and cultural dimensions are dialectically intertwined in the generation of gendered class subjectivities and relations. Exploring the class dynamics of gender and sexuality in and from the global South thus brings new understandings.

Interconnected developments 

Four interconnected developments background our call for a focus on class:

  • Gender and sexuality are often largely absent from class analysis.
  • Class since the 1980s has increasingly been abandoned as a theoretical tool in feminist theory, even though Marxism had informed feminist theory and practice until the 1980s.
  • The central role that queer approaches to social and cultural analysis attributes to choice, change, and the destabilization of categories comes at a cost, namely the lack of attention to more enduring power relations and inequalities.
  • Taking a transnational standpoint will help further theorise the questions of social classes in the 21st century.

Unpacking the concept of class – aim of this conference

The way forward, we suggest, is to start unpacking the concept of class. Interestingly, while most of us recognise immediately the notion of class, definitions of it remain elusive and differ tremendously in their reach and implications.

During this conference we intend to explore various routes to unpack the formulation of class through the prism of gender and sexuality:

  • The first question is the matter of scale: from day-to-day interaction, via various levels to the state, and the transnational level: when does class matter?
  • Hence, what makes class matter?
  • What are the material and/or symbolic characteristics of class and how do they matter?
  • Which social, political or cultural ideas, practices and institutions ‘form’ social class?
  • Last but not least, how can class analysis shed light on gender and sexual relations, and how does gender and sexuality analysis shed light on class?

We invite papers from the wide range of social sciences, including social history, to take up these questions and engage in an interdisciplinary debate.

Call for Papers

We invite papers from the wide range of social sciences, including social history, to take up these questions and engage in an interdisciplinary debate.

Please send:

  • Name of panel for which you are submitting
  • Author name and email address
  • Title
  • Abstract (up to 250 words)

Online form 

Please use the online form below to submit paper proposals for the conference Social Class in the 21st Century. Submission is open from April 15, 2015 until May 29, 2015 Authors will be notified of the decision by mid-June 2015.

Submission of Papers:

Registration and Fees:

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South Africa

South Africa



Call for Postdoctoral Fellows


The Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, is seeking applications from recently or soon to be completed doctoral students who require a host for funding applications for postdoctoral level research. This is not an offer of funding but of an institutional base to enhance a funding application.

SWOP is a vibrant Research Institute with a strong local and international reputation, which provides a collegial environment, the opportunity to collaborate in research projects, international research networks and other activities.

Current postdoctoral fellows are Dr Jacob Mati and Dr Ian Macqueen.

‘SWOP has been a great host for me. I enjoy the deep intellectual debates that SWOP affords everyone in the team, either through breakfast seminars, internal seminars or other visitors that deliver papers.’ Jacob Mati

‘SWOP has provided me with a very supportive home in which to conduct my research. I particularly enjoy the emphasis on engaged research, which sees collaboration with partners outside of the university. We meet weekly to discuss our work and host regular seminars for the public and academics.’ Ian Macqueen


Applications should be consistent with SWOP’s vision to ‘generate a southern perspective on society, work and precariousness through the production of scholarly, engaged and innovative social knowledge’.

Applications should speak to one or more of SWOP’s research clusters and thus contribute to developing our research programmes.


The respective research clusters and co-ordinators are:

– The politics of Precarious Society – Professor Karl von Holdlt

– Mining and Social Transformation – Dr Gavin Capps and Professor Dunbar Moodie

– Decent Work and Development – Professor Eddie Webster

– Nature and Society – Professor Jacklyn Cock

– Gender and social reproduction

– Labour and social movements in Southern Africa


Enquiries can be directed to Miss Abnavien King at or to the respective research cluster co-ordinators.

While SWOP does not directly provide postdoctoral fellowships, it will support your application to the relevant funding organisation.

From time to time we post news of calls for postdoctoral fellowships on our website.



University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Call for 5 Postdoctoral Fellowships in Research and Social Justice (2 years)

An exciting new concept!

This postdoctoral program, generously funded by Ford Foundation, provides focused support for both research publication and concrete engagement with social justice issues and campaigns. You will be located at a Research Institute that combines cutting edge scholarly research with rich experience of supporting labour, women’s, social and environmental movements, as well as progressive government institutions, engaging in struggles to change the world we live in. You will have the time and support to conduct and publish research and lay the foundation for your academic career, as well as participate in an innovative social justice program. You will participate in a collegial and progressive community of scholars.


The Institute

The Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) conducts relevant and exciting research on work, labour and social movements, mining and social transformations, environmental crisis, gender orders and contestation, the informalisation of work, society and politics, protest movements, patronage and civil society, collective and political violence, and the challenges of citizenship and democracy. The Institute collaborates with academics, grassroots organizations and government across South Africa and internationally, and is a collegial, team-working organization committed to developing a new generation of researchers and intellectuals. It is located in the most vibrant Humanities Faculty in South Africa, in a university known for cutting edge social sciences research.


The Program

The Fellowship program will include mentoring by experienced scholars, training in writing and presentation skills, research opportunities including research funding, and the opportunity to discuss your work in a vibrant network of scholars. The social justice component will include critical seminars on the interface between academic research and public engagement, and include a social justice project linked to work in labour and broader social movements, grassroots organising and advocacy, public interest litigation/transformative constitutionalism, and efforts to progressively influence policy-making and legislative processes.

This is a full-time programme and is not compatible with other employment. Fellows will be expected to work closely with research staff, and to participate fully in the intellectual life of the institute. Each Fellow’s work programme will fit their specific goals, whether this means focusing on translating PhD research into publications, or undertaking new research and taking this through to publication. Candidates will explain how their own (completed or planned) research is linked to or has implications for social justice. It is preferable that applicants’ work should be broadly aligned with the thematic focuses in SWOP, which include:


  • extractive industries, labour regimes and rural transformations
  • precarious work and social protection
  • environment and society
  • democracy, violence, community formation, movements and citizenship
  • informalisation of work, society and politics
  • changing gender regimes.

The emphasis is on ‘broadly’, such that candidates are able to explore their own interests and adopt fresh perspectives.


Period of Fellowship:

Applications are invited from all continents. The Fellowships will start on 1 May 2015 and cover a period of two years. Fellows will receive funding of R220 000 per year plus medical insurance, and in addition substantial research funding. The second year is conditional on performance in the first year. Applicants must have completed and been awarded their PhDs (though not necessarily graduated) in the social sciences or related fields. There will be two calls for applications, the first closing on 15 December, the second closing 30 February 2015. Potential applicants who anticipate being awarded their PhD’s by 30 February should forward their applications for pre-selection by 15 December as well.

APPLICATION: To apply, please submit the following:

A detailed cover letter motivating your application, including a statement of your current research interests, its relevance to social justice concerns, and outlining what you wish to do with your postdoc Fellowship, should it be awarded to you. Also indicate what publications you might produce during your fellowship, and whether these are to be drawn from completed research or would require additional research.

A brief essay (2 pages) problematising the relationship between academic research and social justice activism, including reflections on your own research field.

A detailed and updated CV.

A copy of two recent publications, or two chapters of your PhD.

Names and contact details (including email addresses) of three referees.

Applications and enquiries should be sent to  or posted to Mondli Hadebe, Society Work and Development Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa

Closing date for applications: 15 December 2014


Further details:



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Precarious Communism

Book Release London March 25th
Tuesday March 25th @ 5PM
New Academic Building LG01
Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross, London SE14 6NW

How does one demonstrate the enduring relevance of a sacred text but to help it speak to present times? This is what churches do with the Bible and what Marxists do with the writings of Marx. Come on join us to celebrate the release of Precarious Communism, in which Richard Gilman-Opalsky detourns Marx and Engels to create a mutant manifesto for an autonomist and millennial Marxism.

Richard Gilman-Opalsky is Associate Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is the author of Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy (2011) and Unbounded Publics: Transgressive Public Spheres, Zapatismo, and Political Theory (2008).

Hosted by the Centre for Cultural Studies:

Richard will also be presenting seminars (with Stevphen Shukaitis) at:
– the Department of Politics, History and International Relations at
Loughboro University on March 26th:
– the Centre for Work, Organization, and Society at the University of Essex on March 28th (this will be a day long workshop)

For more information on any of these events e-mail Stevphen Shukaitis:


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Robin Small

Robin Small


BISA IPEG/BLT Workshop and Film Screening: Education Meets Neoliberalism and the Political Economy of Precarity

Location: University of Middlesex (MDX), Hendon. Town Hall, Committee Room 3
Date and time: 14 February, 2014, 10.30 – 19.00

Co-sponsors: BISA-International Political Economy Group (IPEG, Convenor Phoebe Moore) and BISA- Learning and Teaching Working Group (BLT, Convenor Steven Curtis, London Metropolitan University, Higher Education Academy)

Local organisers: Phoebe Moore (MDX Law), Elizabeth Cotton (MDX Business), Merilin Nurmsalu (MDX Law)

All welcome. Please email Merilin Nurmsalu with interest in attending for catering purposes.


This workshop will critically examine the political economy of current changes in education policy in the United Kingdom and internationally as it has impacted and impacts marginalized groups as well as educators. Discussions will touch on the political economy of precarity and ask difficult questions about the flexilisation of the labour market and how it is reflected in every level of education from early schooling to adult, community, higher and trade union education and training. Participants will look at changes to education in all levels of education from secondary to University, adult, community and trade union education including the depoliticisation of pedagogies and curricula. Further challenges are brought about through introduction of new technologies including distance learning, online administration and new performance indicators, all of which we will argue can be appropriated for critical use.

The changing role of educators will be assessed as we look at critical pedagogies, the seen purpose for private involvement in education and the concept of ‘employability’, internships and possibilities for critique and intervention. In that light we invite educators, public intellectuals and trade unionists who look at the need for specific absences to be revisited. This also includes critical investigations around the understanding of the dangers of precarity for mental health, the costs of precarity for educators and students, political trade union education and the waning of working class and disability representation in recent education policy as well as the classroom.

This event is intentionally set to run the day after a very important event on similar themes run by Maureen Spencer, Heather Clay and Alan Durant entitled  ‘The state, the university and liberal education: a complex relationship between piper and tune’ on Hendon campus on 13th February. Please email Christiana Rose for more details about this .

14th February programme
10 – 10.30 Coffee/tea, registration

10.30 – 11.30 Plenary speaker: Matthew Watson University of Warwick, ‘Taking the Classroom into the Community’ 
Chair: Phoebe Moore

11.30 – 12.30 Plenary speaker: Mike Neary University of Lincoln, ‘Pedagogy of Excess: an alternative political economy for student life’
Chair: Steven Curtis

12.30 – 1.15 Lunch. Over lunch, Steven Curtis, Politics and Economics Lead for the Higher Education Academy (HEA) will take the opportunity to chat to participants about the support that the HEA offers university educators.

1.15 – 3.15 The Future of Trade Union Education (Workshop one)
Plenary speaker: Jo Cain, Head of Education for Unison, on the future of trade union education: perspectives from Unison
Chair: Elizabeth Cotton
Participants: Ian Manborde, Elizabeth Cotton, Martin Upchurch, Education for Action (Phoebe Moore, Kirsten Forkert, Miguel Martinez Lucio), Industrial Officer PCS, NUT, organiser for domestic workers

3.15 – 5.15 Community Education and beyond (Workshop two)
Plenary speaker: Joyce Canaan, Birmingham Radical Education (BRE(A)D) on critical thinking and practice and countering capitalist ‘realisms’
Chair: Steven Curtis
Participants: Annabel Kiernan, Dave Hill, Johnna Montgomerie, People’s Political Economy (Laura Hill and Sarah Kunz)

5.15 – 7.00  Film screening We will screen, and Director Luke Fowler will lead a discussion about his incredible 61 minute film ‘The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott’ which is a beautiful documentary about the Marxist historian Edward Palmer (E. P.) Thompson, who was employed by the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) from 1946, aged 24, to teach adults in the industrial towns of the West Riding. These WEA classes were open to people for whom university education was not previously available. 



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Education Crisis

Education Crisis



November 29
7 pm
PSAC Headquarters
233 Gilmour Street
Ottawa, ON

The Workers’ History Museum is proud to host Ottawa’s first-ever Canadian Labour International Film Festival. CLIFF gives a stage to those who seek justice on the job and dignity in their workplaces, so it is a perfect fit for our museum. This successful festival, now in its fifth year, has brought independent films about working people to cities throughout Canada. On November 29th, we’re bringing them to Ottawa.

Please join us for five films — and five perspectives — that you won’t see anywhere else. Information about the films can be found at:

Admission is $5.00. For more information or for advance tickets, please contact:



November 28
6 p.m.
Beit Zatoun
612 Markham St., Toronto (2 blocks west of Bathurst St., south side of Bloor St. W.)

Join other activists, advocates, and organizers:
–  Weaving connections between community groups, city-wide organizations, social justice networks, and progressive movements
–  Sharing stories from our struggles
–  Finding common ground on issues, goals, values
–  Developing the groundwork for a solidarity strategy and creating the conditions for an active solidarity alliance

Sponsored by the Toronto Community Development Institute (TCDI)
For more information about the TCDI, visit:

We invite you to join us or work with us on our projects. For more information about how you can be a part of TCDI, email: or call (416) 231-5499.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013
6:00pm to 8:00pm
Sears Atrium, George Vari Engineering Building
245 Church Street, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON

Join the CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) Ontario for a special book launch: Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word.

It’s time to start talking about the value of taxes in Canada. Join us for the launch of Canada’s newest book on the subject: Tax is Not a Four Letter Word.

Featuring the book’s co-editors:
– Alex Himelfarb, Glendon College Director and former Clerk of the Privy Council
– Jordan Himelfarb, Toronto Star Opinion Editor
and three of the book’s CCPA contributors:
– Jim Stanford, Ontario Advisory Board Chair
– Hugh Mackenzie, Research Associate
– Trish Hennessy, Ontario Director

We hope you can join us! Space is limited so sign up here:

– See more at:



Mon. Nov. 4
9:00am- 4:00pm

Youth are experiencing unprecedented barriers to entering the workforce and are resorting to creative, and sometimes unpaid, outlets to gain meaningful experiences, network and secure stable employment.

Co-hosted by Social Planning Toronto (SPT), Toronto Workforce Innovation Group and McMaster University’s School of Labour Studies, this full day event will explore overall trends in youth unemployment in Canada and Ontario, including public policy options.

To register: Contact Mary Micallef,, or 416-351-0095 ext. 251



Saturday, November 23, 2013
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Sponsored by Tools for Change

This workshop will outline the theory of community organizing and the steps and strategies involved in actively participating in an organization engaged in community organizing.

Exact campus room location given to registrants a week before the event.

Trainer: Effie Vlachoyannacos is the Managing Director of Public Interest, a social enterprise in Toronto working with communities to fuel social change and build the capacity of non-profit organizations and labour groups to do the same. With Public Interest, Effie has worked on diverse community engagement initiatives and campaigns across Toronto’s inner suburbs, with a particular focus on affordable and social housing advocacy.

For more info and to register:




Nora Loreto has released a new book From Demonized to Organized: Building the New Union Movement with support from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that serves as a call to incite union activists and supporter, debunk anti-union rhetoric and start the conversation around building a strong, community-focus union movement in Canada.

Watch the video:



In the last two decades precarious employment has doubled. The National Urban Worker Strategy, introduced on Monday in the House of Commons by MP Andrew Cash, “proposes a sweeping suite of overdue federal policies that respond to the plight of temps, freelancers, interns, part-timers and other flexworkers who flit from gig to gig, shift to shift, contract to contract, with no guarantee of income or future work, let alone access to benefits or pensions.” What promise does it hold for precarious workers? In this issue, award-winning writers Nicole Cohen and Grieg de Peuter take a critical look at the Urban Worker Strategy and the politics of precarity.

Read the full story here:



By Chris Hedges, Common Dreams

“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants.

Read more:



By Amy Dean, Alternet

Domestic workers have had some breakthrough wins over the past two weeks. Up until then, these workers were excluded from protections such as a guaranteed minimum wage, paid breaks, and overtime pay. On September 17, the Obama administration  announced new rules extending the Fair Labor Standards Act to include the 800,000 to 2 million home health workers—who help seniors and others with self-care tasks like taking medications, bathing, and shopping—under the federal government’s wage and hour protections.

Read more:



It is noteworthy that as finance has been on the ‘rise,’ some activists began to formalize anti-corporate and targeted activist campaign strategies through pension and personal investment funds. In Canada and the U.S., several faith organizations began to argue that anti-social corporate behaviour should be, in some sense, sanctioned by individual investors and ultimate owners, on the basis of social principle or humanitarian values.

These initiatives then crystallized and drew broader support with the rise of the sanctions and divestment movement directed against corporate and government support for apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.

Such initiatives have seen their labels evolving from “ethical investment,” to “socially responsible investment” (SRI), to the most recent simplified term of “responsible investment.” While many trade unions, NGOs, and activists have embraced these efforts, others have not, and a substantial differentiation on the political left has emerged. Most recently, Queen’s political economist Susanne Soederberg has produced a sharply critical analysis of these investor-activist efforts from a Marxist political economy framework. This critique follows previous analyses by CAW economists Sam Gindin and Jim Stanford, both of whom have raised serious questions about these strategies as projections of trade union or working class power. Other unions and labour organizations have embraced these strategies with enthusiasm, as is notable in the establishment of a “Committee on Workers Capital” at the international level.

Moderated by Greg Albo. Convenor: Kevin Skerrett. Presentations by:
– Susanne Soederberg (Queen’s University) – Corporate Power and Ownership in Contemporary Capitalism.
– Jim Stanford (UNIFOR) – Paper Boom.

Sponsors: Centre for Social Justice, Global Labour Research Centre (York University), Canada Research Chair in Political Economy (York University) and Socialist Project.

Watch the video:



Head: Peter Sawchuk
Co-ordinator: D’Arcy Martin

The Centre for the Study of Education and Work (CSEW) brings together educators from university, union, and community settings to understand and enrich the often-undervalued informal and formal learning of working people. We develop research and teaching programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) that strengthen feminist, anti-racist, labour movement, and working-class perspectives on learning and work.

Our major project is APCOL: Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning. This five-year project (2009-2013), funded by SSHRC-CURA, brings academics and activists together in a collaborative effort to evaluate how organizations approach issues and campaigns and use popular education. For more information about this project, visit

For more information about CSEW, visit:




Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at:

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:


Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Rikowski Point:


Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Online Publications at:




Nanopolitics, exhaustion, biopolitics: an evening of bodies and books

London, October 9th 7pm @
Top Floor, 316-318 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 OAG

This evening will present an encounter of three lines of thought and practice relating to politics, bodies, life, the social and the common. Doing so, we attempt to think across conceptions and realities of micro, nano and biopolitics. Asking what it is that these dimensions may hold in common, what distinguishes them, and what they may learn from each other, we propose three short presentations followed by an open discussion.

First up is the handbook by the nanopolitics group from London, published with Minor Compositions this fall: Playfully sketching out the term ‘nanopolitics’, this handbook departs from bodies and their encounters in investigating the neoliberal city and workplace, the politics of crisis and austerity, precarity and collaboration. This book, packed with excercises and tools for action draws on social movements, grassroots organizing, dance, theatre and bodywork. As the hosts of this evening, the nanopolitics group will propose some ways of activating their handbook, which tries to think politics with and through the body.

Following a similar line of research, Peter Pal Pelbart and Akseli Virtanen will then share some tools they are developing through their n-1 editorial project, as well as in their respective works: N-1 editions has recently emerged across Brazil and Finland and refers to the necessity to create new organizational ideas and forms – to which “one” (leader, value, idea, principle, community, goal) belongs only as subtracted. They say they don’t organize to make the series, but make the series to organize. To organize at n-1.

Peter Pelbart will notably draw on his work with the Ueinzz theatre company in Sao Paolo, and on his book ‘Cartographies of exhaustion’, where he asks what makes us so exhausted today, and proposes a collective open-ended cartography that identifies breakage points where other images, visions, notions, are extracted from the hither side of our current biopolitical nihilism.

Akseli Virtanen will draw on his work towards ‘A critique of biopolitical economy’ (forthcoming) as well as his ‘Dictionary of New Work: A Map to Precarious Life’ (2006) in reflecting on experiments on
coming forms of politics and organization, among them the Robin Hood contra-investment bank of the precariat (

We would love to invite you for an open discussion to tie together some threads regarding these fields of investigation and practice, to see what useful insights we might draw from thinking across the nano, micro and biopolitical.


All welcome!
Unfortunately the building is not wheelchair accessible.




Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (new remix, and new video, 2012)  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:


Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Rikowski Point:


Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Online Publications at:





Surplus: A Symposium on Wealth, Waste and Excess

Starts: Jun 21, 2013 10:00 AM

Finishes: Jun 21, 2013 05:00 PM

Venue: Room B34, Birkbeck Main Building

Booking details: Free entry; booking required

Event description



In times of austerity it is especially important to think about surplus.

All civilizations have been built on surplus – an economic, political or cultural capital over and above a minimum which a given society requires to survive. But how is such surplus defined and measured? How is it produced and distributed? What indeed is the relationship between wealth and waste, excess and poverty, scarcity and conflict?

These and other related questions will be addressed at three interconnected roundtables dealing with scarcity, conflict, demography, precarity, rubbish, democracy and protest. The format will enable genuinely cross-disciplinary conversations on some of the most pressing social phenomena of our day, ranging  from mass unemployment (or ‘redundancy’) to the ‘irrational exuberance’ of financial markets; from ‘imperial overstretch’ of American foreign policy to the ‘social explosion’ among marginalised urban populations across the world.

Panelists will include: Eric SwyngedouwJames MeadwaySimon ChoatJohn ScanlanAlberto Toscano Lisa McKenzieDanny Dorling,  Joel McKimAnna StavrianakisSue BranfordEmma M Jones and Esther Leslie.

This event is free – register here

Contact: Julie Eisner –


Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales); and at (new remix, and new video, 2012)

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Rikowski Point:


Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Online Publications at:



7th of November 2012, 7pm, Khalili lecture theatre, SOAS.

Presentation of the international platform ArtLeaks and on the urgency of launching the ArtLeaks Gazette
Corina L. Apostol, Vlad Morariu, Vladan Jeremic, Dmitry Vilensky

ArtLeaks is an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. ArtLeaks stresses the urgent need to seriously revise these workers’ relationship with institutions, networks and economies involved with the production and consumption of art and culture. The goal of ArtLeaks is to create a space where one could engage directly with actual conditions of cultural work internationally – conditions that affect those working in cultural production as well as those from traditionally creative fields. Furthermore, ArtLeaks is developing in the direction of creating transversal alliances between local activist and cultural workers groups, through which we may collectively tackle situation of repression and inequality.

While building on previous models that emerged in the highly politicized milieus of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the institutional critique practice of left-wing collectives like Art Workers Coalition, The Guerrilla Art Action Group, Art & Language, PAD/D, Group Material to name just a few, ArtLeaks seeks to expand the scope of these historical precedents towards international geo-political engagement. One of the outcome of ArtLeaks working assemblies was the establishment of alliances with international groups such as: W.A.G.E.(NYC), Occupy Museums (NYC), Arts & Labor (NYC), Haben und Brauchen (Berlin), the Precarious Workers Brigade (London), The May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow).

For the 2012 Historical Materialism Conference, members of ArtLeaks will present the outcome of their previous working assemblies which took place this year in Berlin, Moscow and Belgrade and bring up for discussion the urgent need to establish ArtLeaks Gazette (forthcoming 2013). This regular, on-line publication aims to be a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship, and the growing corporatization of culture that we face today.

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Capitalism in Crisis


Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers ( AAG ) Annual Meeting 2013, Los Angeles April 9 -13th

Finance and the Realization of Value in the “Social Factory”

Co-organized by Mark Kear (Simon Fraser University) and Lana Swartz (University of Southern California)

Session Overview

This session explores the changing role of money and finance in the realization of value outside traditional sites of production, and through social processes and activities not historically associated with value production. Over the last three decades geographers have documented dramatic transformations in the nature of labor in affluent capitalist states. These transformations have been attended by a growth in insecure, casualized, and irregular employment; a blurring of work and non-work time as well as a rise in the prominence of “entrepreneurial,” “affective,” “creative” and “immaterial” labour. Italian autonomists (e.g. Hardt and Negri 2010, Marazzi 2011, Vecellone 2007) argue that these shifts in the nature of work have dispersed and decentralized the valorization process to a point where ‘the whole society is placed at the disposal of profit’ (Negri, 1989: 79 cited in Gill and Pratt 2007) – turning society into a “social factory” for the production of value. This “real subsumption of society under capital,” however, creates challenges for the regulation of productive processes and the realization of value created beyond the “factory gate.”

With these challenges in mind, we hope to explore how innovations in payments systems, banking, financial analytics and credit scoring products as well as other financial apparatuses (e.g. loan products, mobile apps, transaction services, etc.) enable the capitalization and regulation of diffuse value producing activity (in the home, online, etc.), and help capture surpluses produced through such activity. According to Hardt and Negri (2009: 289) “only finance is able to oversee and compel the flexibility, mobility and precariousness of biopolitical labor-power;” however, the specific financial devices (Muniesa, Millo and Callon 2007) and mechanisms through which everyday activities and forms of sociality are rendered sources of economic value remain largely unstudied.

The current efforts of financial institutions, state regulators and consumer advocates to build a more “inclusive” financial system, develop new products, and harness new data sources, promise to produce new “spaces” into which financial markets can expand and “empower” the excluded. Some of these efforts lay new infrastructures of value transfer and production, while others work to privatize and “ride the rails” of public systems (Maurer 2012). We hope this session will facilitate a rewarding and critical discussion about this post-subprime crisis future of financialization – its vectors, contradictions, geographies, and targets for resistance.

Possible paper topics and themes include:

– Money and payment infrastructures

– Financial empowerment, financial inclusion and financial citizenship

– Behavioral finance, financial education and financial subject formation

– Geographies of transactional finance

– Biocapitalism / cognitive capitalism

– South-to-north policy transfer / finance and the “bottom of the pyramid”

– Asset-based welfare and neoliberalization

– Mobile banking and prepaid cards

– Finance and precarity

– Financial ethnography

– Consumer finance, social protection and personal responsibility

– Finance and class

– Resistance to financialization

– Finance and the commons

– Financial reform

– Finance and measurement (e.g. data, scoring, and risk)

– Finance and social capital

– Debtor-creditor relations

– Finance and philanthrocapitalism

Submissions need not be limited to these suggestions; we welcome abstracts with expansive interpretations of these topics and themes.

Please send proposed titles and abstracts of up to 250 words to Mark Kear ( ) and Lana Swartz ( ) by October 1st , 2012.


Gill, R., & Pratt, A. (2008). In the Social Factory? Immaterial Labour, Precariousness and Cultural Work. Theory Culture and Society , 25 (7-8), 1–30.
Marazzi, C. (2011). The Violence of Financial Capitalism . Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
Maurer, B. (2012). Mobile Money: Communication, Consumption and Change in the Payments Space. Journal of Development Studies , 48 (5), 589–604.
Muniesa, F., Millo, Y., & Callon, M. (2007). An introduction to market devices. Socialogical Review , 55 (2), 1–12.
Negri, A., & Hardt, M. (2009). Commonwealth . Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard Press.
Vercellone, C. (2007). From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect: Elements for a Marxist Reading of the Thesis of Cognitive Capitalism. Historical Materialism , 15 (1), 13–36.

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Glenn Rikowski’s paper, Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society has been published at Heathwood Press as a Monthly Guest Article for September 2012, online at:

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An International Conference

Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, December 6-7, 2012


Key note speakers:

Judith Revel

Paolo Virno (tbc)

Giorgio Vasta

Maurizio Lazzerato (tbc)


Call for Papers

This international conference is the third and last in a cycle of conferences that started last year in Amsterdam, and continued at Chapel Hill (USA) in May 2012, and is part of the international research project Precarity and Post- autonomia: the Global Heritage, funded by NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) which involves several Dutch universities (Universiteit Leiden/ Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Universiteit Utrecht) in collaboration with two North-American Universities (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. The project aims at stimulating the debate on today’s developments in “autonomist” movements, born mainly from Italy’s workers movements during the Seventies, and to connect these currents with a broader reflection on the topic of precarity within globalized capitalism.

The title of the conference originates in a newspaper article by the young Sicilian writer Giorgio Vasta in which he unpacks the identikit of the new generations. Vasta feels that those born in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, have grown up with the perception of the ‘end of the present’ and of the present as the ‘end’. If this impossibility or incapacity of having a perspective is proper to today’s youth, then this, says Vasta, should become their stronghold: “Because if our connotation is uncertainty – alienation not as an anomaly but as a permanent experience of the real – in that case it becomes fundamental to not turn uncertainty into an alibi but to use it as a tool for knowledge. To have the courage of uncertainty” (La Repubblica, 6-10-2009).

This uncertainty mentioned by Vasta is synonymous with crisis, with a two-faced precarity that therefore becomes ambivalent and that is not longer recomposable into a dialectical object. On the one hand the condition of economic insecurity, caused by the traumatic consequences of so-called labour “flexibility” in globalized capitalism, reduces the subject to a (biopolitical) state of permanent precarity. On the other hand, however, the claim of an identity that is precarious and resistant at the same time, and which is located outside and against the capitalist system, would entail that there still exists a margin from which we can pronounce a cultural critique. If we move our attention towards the ‘creative industries’, these seem to have incorporated precarity as a mode of cultural production. If this is true, the question is to determine the margin of “relative heteronomy” acceptable to survive economically without sacrificing artistic liberty. This could be a way to consider initiatives such as the Coordination des intermittents et précaires d’Ile de France in France and the occupation of the Valle Theatre in Rome, supported by the Generation TQ, the movement of cognitive laborers between thirty-forty ( One may ask what type of autonomy is envisioned by the artists’ resistance against capitalism and if their confinement to an “autonomous” margin could lead, on the contrary, towards the depoliticization of the aesthetic of the avant- gardes? What does marginality mean if we start from a general precarization of public and private space? In the past decade, art institutions and academic contexts have become privileged spaces for conversations concerning both the (partly subversive) knowledge of the precarious, and a search for commons (in order to constitute the political). As for academic contexts, a reference can be made to EduFactory (, a transnational collective that focuses on conflicts and transformation of the university.

Narratives of precarity express two components: that of an inquiry of and a charge against post-Fordist society, and that of the creation of a new kind of precarious ontology. The case-study of Italy seems particularly interesting because it offers the opportunity to analyze the palimpsest both of a history of long duration, transmitted by (post)autonomous workers movements and radical thought in 1970s Italy, and a recent history of social movements that starts from the (tragic) events of the G8 summit at Genoa (2001) – but many other countries and movements must be taken into account, from the first EuroMayDay parade (2001), to the Madrid-based feminist activist group “Precarias a la deriva” (2004), to the transnational indignados movement (2011, Spain) and to the Occupy movement.

The intention of the conference is thus to establish a link between transnational narratives of precarity – narrative in the broad sense of storytelling, including various representational and performative arts in prose and in poetry – and different types of cultural activism. The central question is whether such cultures of resistance, when embedded within art institutions or social movements, do not risk becoming expressions of containment policies, of strategies of ‘governmentality’ (Foucault) that conforms the precarious subject to the cultural logic of capitalism. If the absence of dialectics allows instead for a multidirectional relationship between object and subject, the question is whether this ambivalence of precariousness may become a new way of being that invites an artistic and political revisioning of cultural activism operating at the margins. Therefore the conference also questions whether the ways of creating narratives, and indeed forms of representation of precarity, undergo the same dynamics as the biopolitical subject. Language itself is put into a state of precariousness, and comes to war with itself.


Topics include but are not limited to:

            -­‐  Aesthetics of precarity in arts and in social movements

            -­‐  Forms of cultural activism

            -­‐  Cultural “events” of precarity

            -­‐  Precarity and memory

            -­‐  The luxury of precarity? Whose precarity?

            -­‐  The aesthetization of precarity

            -­‐  Precarity and new forms of cultural production (i.e. the ‘creative industries’)

            -­‐  Precarization as constituent power

            -­‐  Precarity and new forms of local, regional or global ethics of ‘relationality’

            -­‐  A ‘geo-aesthetics’ of precarity 


The languages of the conference are English, French, and Italian.

Abstracts of about 200 words together with a brief biography should be sent before 09/20/2012 to the following two Email addresses: /  

Acceptance of proposals will be communicated by 10/15/2012. 

Scientific Project and Organization: Silvia Contarini (Paris Ouest Nanterre) and Monica Jansen (UtrechtUniversity).

In collaboration with: Luca Marsi and Christophe Mileschi (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre); Judith Revel (Université Paris 1) NWO partners: Vincenzo Binetti (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Joost de Bloois (University of Amsterdam), Silvia Contarini (Université Paris Ouest, Nanterre La Défense), Frans-Willem Korsten (Leiden University/Erasmus University Rotterdam), Federico Luisetti (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Monica Jansen (Utrecht University).

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MSc in Labour, Social Movements and Development

SOAS, University of London

This new programme is concerned with labour conditions and relations, social movements of labour and their contributions to development processes and changes in the Global South.

 It is the first MSc programme of its kind in the UK dedicated to Labour, Social Movements and Development. Students will have the opportunity to experience policy-making and labour campaigns in practice. They will participate in our interactive sessions to devise policies; and design and implement regional, national and international labour campaigns.

The MSc draws on the expertise of staff in the Department of Development Studies, specialising in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It benefits from our contacts within the field, including with NGOs and international organisations.

The MSc degree will focus on:

  • Labour process and organisations in the South
  • A comparative history of labour and social movements in countries such asChina,Korea,India,South Africa, Brazil and the Middle East
  • The impact of neoliberalism and globalisation on workers in the South 
  • Informalisation of labour, casualisation and precarious work
  • Feminisation of labour
  • Forced labour and child labour 
  • Rural labour, migrant labour and labour in Export Processing Zones
  • Household and reproductive labour
  • The International Labour Organisation, international labour standards and decent work
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives, codes of conduct and anti-sweatshop campaigning
  • Theories and practices of local, national and international labour campaigns

For further information please visit the following link:


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Special Issue: Collective Becomings
Edited by Stevphen Shukaitis & Joanna Figiel

Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi is a contemporary writer, autonomist theorist and media activist. He founded the magazine A/traverso (1975-1981), and was part of the staff of Radio Alice, the first pirate radio station in Italy (1976-1978). His work analyzes the role of media and information technology in post-industrial capitalism, in particular drawing from schizoanalysis and aesthetics to investigate processes of subjectification within precarious labor.

This issue of Subjectivity, which is the first major engagement with Bifo’s work in English, focuses on the themes of collective becomings, whether manifest in the eruption of new political movements, within the workings of the economy, or in the artistic sphere. It is not just a collection of essays that take Bifo’s ideas as their starting point, but rather a collection of essays that all start from the conjuncture of Bifo’s ideas, the issues and conditions raised by them, with forms of collective becomings in the present.

The purpose then is not to consider Bifo’s work in isolation, but rather to develop it as a tool, one that is explored through continued usage and application. This conjunctive approach is the most productive and valuable feature of Bifo’s writing, and autonomist analysis more generally: its ability to act as a kind of crossroads for bringing together different forms of political analysis and social theory, to act as a bridge between them.

Issue Contents:

Stevphen Shukaitis & Joanna Figiel

Angels of love in the unhappiness factory
Dave Eden

Labor of recombination
Abe Walker

Creative labor in Shanghai: Questions on politics, composition and ambivalence
Anja Kanngieser

Cinematic and aesthetic cartographies of subjective mutation
Michael Goddard

The Novel Form in Italian Postmodernity: Genna’s Day of Judgment
Giuseppina Mecchia

Reassessing recomposition: 40 years after the publication of Anti-Oedipus
Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi

Stevphen Shukaitis
Autonomedia Editorial Collective

“Autonomy is not a fixed, essential state. Like gender, autonomy is created through its performance, by doing/becoming; it is a political practice. To become autonomous is to refuse authoritarian and compulsory cultures of separation and hierarchy through embodied practices of welcoming difference… Becoming autonomous is a political position for it thwarts the exclusions of proprietary knowledge and jealous hoarding of resources, and replaces the social and economic hierarchies on which these depend with a politics of skill exchange, welcome, and collaboration. Freely sharing these with others creates a common wealth of knowledge and power that subverts the domination and hegemony of the master’s rule.” – subRosa Collective



‘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)  


‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:


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