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Karl Marx

Karl Marx


Confronting Labour-History and the Concept of Labour with the Global Labour-Relations of the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Marcel van der Linden, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Karl Heinz Roth in collaboration with Max Henninger

Capitalism has proven much more resilient than Marx anticipated, and the working class has, until now, hardly lived up to his hopes.
The Marxian concept of class rests on exclusion. Only the ‘pure’ doubly-free wage-workers are able to create value; from a strategic perspective, all other parts of the world’s working populations are secondary. But global labour history suggests that slaves and other unfree workers are an essential component of the capitalist economy.
What might a critique of the political economy of labour look like that critically reviews the experiences of the past five hundred years while moving beyond Eurocentrism? In this volume twenty-two authors offer their thoughts on this question, both from a historical and theoretical perspective.

Contributors include: Riccardo Bellofiore, Sergio Bologna, C. George Caffentzis, Silvia Federici, Niklas Frykman, Ferruccio Gambino, Detlef Hartmann, Max Henninger, Thomas Kuczynski, Marcel van der Linden, Peter Linebaugh, Ahlrich Meyer, Maria Mies, Jean-Louis Prat, Marcus Rediker, Karl Heinz Roth, Devi Sacchetto, Subir Sinha, Massimiliano Tomba, Carlo Vercellone, Peter Way, Steve Wright.


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Karl Marx


Click here – – for videos of Silvia Federici, Kathi Weeks and David McNally’s talks from the closing plenary of HM 2012.

Jairus Banaji’s Deutscher lecture is also available online, at

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Revolution at Point Zero


Book Launch

Silvia Federici launches Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle.

12 November, 6pm, LG02, New Academic Building, Goldsmiths University, Lewisham Way, SE14 6NW, near New Cross station.


Written between 1974 and the present, Revolution at Point Zero collects forty years of research and theorizing on the nature of housework, social reproduction, and women’s struggles on this terrain—to escape it, to better its conditions, to reconstruct it in ways that provide an alternative to capitalist relations.

Indeed, as Federici reveals, behind the capitalist organization of work and the contradictions inherent in “alienated labor” is an explosive ground zero for revolutionary practice upon which are decided the daily realities of our collective reproduction.

Beginning with Federici’s organizational work in the Wages for Housework movement, the essays collected here unravel the power and politics of wide but related issues including the international restructuring of reproductive work and its effects on the sexual division of labor, the globalization of care work and sex work, the crisis of elder care, the development of affective labor, and the politics of the commons.


“Finally we have a volume that collects the many essays that over a period of four decades Silvia Federici has written on the question of social reproduction and women’s struggles on this terrain. While providing a powerful history of the changes in the organization of reproductive labor, Revolution at Point Zero documents the development of Federici’s thought on some of the most important questions of our time: globalization, gender relations, the construction of new commons.”
Mariarosa Dalla Costa, coauthor of The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community and Our Mother Ocean

“As the academy colonizes and tames women’s studies, Silvia Federici speaks the experience of a generation of women for whom politics was raw, passionately lived, often in the shadow of an uncritical Marxism. She spells out the subtle violence of housework and sexual servicing, the futility of equating waged work with emancipation, and the ongoing invisibility of women’s reproductive labors. Under neoliberal globalization women’s exploitation intensifies—in land enclosures, in forced migration, in the crisis of elder care. With ecofeminist thinkers and activists, Federici argues that protecting the means of subsistence now becomes the key terrain of struggle, and she calls on women North and South to join hands in building new commons.”
Ariel Salleh, author of Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx, and the Postmodern

“The zero point of revolution is where new social relations first burst forth, from which countless waves ripple outward into other domains. For over thirty years, Silvia Federici has fiercely argued that this zero point cannot have any other location but the sphere of reproduction. It is here that we encounter the most promising battlefield between an outside to capital and a capital that cannot abide by any outsides. This timely collection of her essays reminds us that the shape and form of any revolution are decided in the daily realities and social construction of sex, care, food, love, and health. Women inhabit this zero point neither by choice nor by nature, but simply because they carry the burden of reproduction in a disproportionate manner. Their struggle to take control of this labor is everybody’s struggle, just as capital’s commodification of their demands is everybody’s commodification.”
Massimo De Angelis, author of The Beginning of History: Values, Struggles, and Global Capital

“In her unfailing generosity of mind, Silvia Federici has offered us yet another brilliant and groundbreaking reflection on how capitalism naturalizes the exploitation of every aspect of women’s productive and reproductive life. Federici theorizes convincingly that, whether in the domestic or public sphere, capital normalizes women’s labor as ‘housework’ worthy of no economic compensation or social recognition. Such economic and social normalization of capitalist exploitation of women underlies the gender-based violence produced by the neoliberal wars that are ravaging communities around the world, especially in Africa. The intent of such wars is to keep women off the communal lands they care for, while transforming them into refugees in nation-states weakened by the negative effects of neoliberalism. Silvia Federici’s call for ecofeminists’ return to the Commons against Capital is compelling. Revolution at Point Zero is a timely release and a must read for scholars and activists concerned with the condition of women around the world.”
Ousseina D. Alidou, Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa (CAFA), Director of the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University and author of Engaging Modernity: Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger

About Silvia Federici:

Silvia Federici is a feminist writer, teacher, and militant. In 1972, she was cofounder of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework campaign internationally. With other members of Wages for Housework, like Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, and with feminist authors like Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Federici has been instrumental in developing the concept of “reproduction” as a key to class relations of exploitation and domination in local and global contexts, and as central to forms of autonomy and the commons.

In the 1990s, after a period of teaching and research in Nigeria, she was active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti-death penalty movement. She is one of the co-founders of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organization dedicated to generating support for the struggles of students and teachers in Africa against the structural adjustment of African economies and education systems. From 1987 to 2005, she also taught international studies, women’s studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

Her decades of research and political organizing accompanies a long list of publications on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education, culture, international politics, and more recently on the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Her steadfast commitment to these issues resounds in her focus on autonomy and her emphasis on the power of what she calls self-reproducing movements as a challenge to capitalism through the construction of new social relations.

Product Details:

Author: Silvia Federici
Publisher: PM Press/Common Notions/Autonomedia
ISBN: 978-1-60486-333-8
Published September 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 208 Pages
Subjects: Women’s Studies/Politics/Sociology

Revolution at Point Zero at PM Press:




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Capitalism IS Crisis


Call for Papers
Remembering the Impossible Tomorrow: Italian Political Thought and the Recent Crisis in Capitalism
The British Society for Phenomenology 2013 Annual Conference
5th- 7th April, 2013
St Hilda’s College Oxford

During Marx’s time radical thought was formed from a convergence of three sources: German philosophy, English economics, and French politics. In the introduction to Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics (1996) Michael Hardt argued that these tides had shifted, with radical movements drawing from French philosophy, US economics, and Italian politics. More recently, Matteo Pasquinelli has argued that ‘Italian theory’ has attained an academic hegemony comparable to that held by French philosophy in the 1980s.

But despite the proliferation of analysis and organizing drawing from and inspired by the history of autonomous politics in Italy, where are these voices today? In 2012, if you listened to the mainstream politicians and economic experts and no-one else, you would hardly know that there was any financial crisis in 2008. You might have a faint recollection that for a brief moment alternative voices were heard in the media, but now it as if nothing at all had happened. The waters that once had parted have now engulfed us again. It is the same voices articulating the same tired ideas as the whole of Europe slides into the nightmare of austerity, despite the fact they do not appear to have any relation to reality, and even those who speak them seem exhausted and worn out.

For some time now, many of us have noticed that there have been different voices, and they began speaking many years before 2008 warning us of an impending disaster. These voices were coming from Italy. Perhaps because of their own experience, the radical Italian thinkers never believed the logic of the market could solve its own problems or that life and capital were one and the same. Our hope is to draw from this history as well as listen to some of the new generation of Italian political thinkers, to share their ideas, offer an alternative diagnosis of the present, and perhaps even a suggestion of what different future might look like.

Confirmed Speakers:
Franco Barchiesi
Franco ‘Bifo’ Beradi
Federico Chicchi
Paolo Do
Silvia Federici
Dario Gentili

Please send an abstract of approx 500 words to Lars Iyer ( by 24th September 2012.

The BSP conference does not have parallel sessions. As a consequence, there are only two places available for papers drawn from the Call for Papers.




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Call for Papers

The Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 3-5, 2012 @ The Institute for the Arts and Humanities/Global Education Center

In collaboration with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and NWO

The conference The Anomie of the Earth is a follow-up to the Post/autonomy conference held in Amsterdam in May 2011.

While the Post/autonomy meeting focused on the European dissemination of autonomist thought, the second conference will build on its American location and explore a plurality of notions and practices of cultural-political autonomy. Though privileging the context of North and South America, the conference will also address European, African and Asian perspectives.

A presupposition of the conference is that what Carl Schmitt has defined as the Western “nomos of the Earth” – i.e. the political, legal, and spatial configuration of a Euro-Atlantic modern global order – is currently being shaken by intense endogenous and exogenous forces. By discussing the potentials and limits of autonomy/autonomia within our actual conjuncture, the conference will address the emerging nomos and its new constellations of life and knowledge.

More specifically, the conference will thematize the intersections of autonomy/autonomia with four lines of research that have reframed current debates in the humanities and social sciences:

* Radical conceptualizations of life, labor, sovereignty, borders, precarity, migrations, communities and commons, multitude;

* Spatial, affective, ethical and ecological forms of resistance to neoliberal capitalism;

* Critical trends taking place at the edges of contemporary epistemologies; such as vitalisms, geo-philosophies, biopolitics, political anthropologies, new materialisms, political ontologies and ecologies, subaltern studies, embodiment and emergence theories;

* Decolonial studies and new theorizations of post-capitalist, non-liberal and non-statist modes of knowledge and political practice; decolonial feminisms.

These broad themes should be focalized through a specific engagement with autonomy/autonomia.

We welcome the submission of papers in English. Accepted papers will be posted online on the conference website ( For the panels, speakers will be asked to make short (10-15 minutes) presentations addressing the main topics of their papers.

Please send your paper, together with a short abstract, by March 1 to Given the limited size of the conference, only a small number of papers will be accepted. Conference organizers will send acceptance notifications by March 21.

For further information, please contact

This conference is the second of a series within the project Precarity and Post-autonomia: the Global Heritage funded by NWO (Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research).
Confirmed Participants

Giuseppe Bianco (University of Warwick/CIEPFC)

Jodi A. Byrd (University of Illinois)

Gustavo Esteva (Universidad de la Tierra)

Silvia Federici (Hofstra University)

Michael Hardt (Duke University)

Catherine Walsh (Universidad Simon Bolivar)

Gareth Williams (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

And the planning committee:
Federico Luisetti, John Pickles, Wilson Kaiser (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Vincenzo Binetti (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

in collaboration with, at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Samuel Amago, Yusuf Al-Bulushi, Emilio del Valle Escalante, Mark Driscoll, Arturo Escobar, Diana Marcela Gomez Correal, Lawrence Grossberg, Michal Osterweil, Michael Palm, Alvaro Reyes

and the NWO partners: Frans-Willem Korsten (Leiden University/Erasmus University Rotterdam), Joost de Bloois (University of Amsterdam), Silvia Contarini (Université Paris Ouest, Nanterre La Défense), Monica Jansen (Utrecht University)


NWO, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), and the Center for Global Initiatives, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Center for European Studies, The Institute for the Arts and Humanities, The Institute for the Study of the Americas, Department of Geography, Program in Comparative Literature, Department of Anthropology, Department of Communication Studies, Cultural Studies@UNC (UNC-Chapel Hill), Department of Romance Studies (Duke University)


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Cognitive Capitalism


Michael A. Peters & Ergin Bulut (eds.)
Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor 
Year of Publication: 2011 
Peter Lang Publishing Group
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien,
2011. XLII, 341 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4331-0981-2 pb.


Antonio Negri: Foreword 

Michael A. Peters & Ergin Bulut: Introduction 

Timothy Brennan: Intellectual Labor 

George Caffentzis: A Critique of Cognitive Capitalism

Silvia Federici: On Affective Labor 

Christian Fuchs: Cognitive Capitalism or Informational Capitalism? The Role of Class in the Information Economy 

Jonathan Beller: Cognitive Capitalist Pedagogy and Its Discontents 

Ergin Bulut: Creative Economy: Seeds of Social Collaboration or Capital’s Hunt for General Intellect and Imagination? 

Mark Coté / Jennifer Pybus: Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: Facebook and Social Networks 

Emma Dowling: Pedagogies of Cognitive Capitalism – Challenging the Critical Subject 

Alex Means: Creativity as an Educational Problematic within the Biopolitical Economy

Toby Miller: For Fun, For Profit, For Empire: The University and Electronic Games 

Michael A. Peters: Algorithmic Capitalism and Educational Futures 

Alberto Toscano: The Limits of Autonomy: Cognitive Capitalism and University Struggles 

Nick Dyer-Witheford: In the Ruined Laboratory of Futuristic Accumulation: Immaterial Labour and the University Crisis 

Tahir Wood: The Confinement of Academic Freedom and Critical Thinking in a Changing Corporate World: South African Universities 

Cameron McCarthy: Afterword. The Unmaking of Education in the Age of Globalization, Neoliberalism and Information

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Michael A. Peters is Professor of Education at the University of Waikato (New Zealand) and Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the executive editor of Educational Philosophy and Theory and editor of two international e-journals, Policy Futures in Education and E-Learning. His interests are in education, philosophy and social policy and he has written over fifty books, including Creativity and the Global Knowledge Economy (Lang, 2009) (with Simon Marginson and Peter Murphy).

Ergin Bulut is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is interested in political economy of labor and its intersection with education, communication and culture. 


“Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor’ provides us with a series of very thoughtful and provocative analyses of the relationship among political economy, education and new forms of knowledge and labor. It is definitely worth reading and then discussing its implications at length.” (Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

“This volume is a ‘tour de force’. Through its chapters, a new space is opened for understanding education in the contemporary world. With an magisterial introduction by its indefatigable editor, Michael A. Peters, and his colleague Ergin Bulut, ‘Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor’ implicitly shows the limitations of postmodernism and offers a large conceptual framework that will surely be mined and critically examined for some years to come.” (Ronald Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, Institute of Education, London)

“‘Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor’ is extraordinarily instructive in studying the living bestiary of capitalism, a provocative text that enervates capitalism through helping us cultivate our critical faculties creatively and exultantly in the service of its demise. An important advance in our understanding the production of subjectivity in capitalist societies.” (Peter McLaren, School of Critical Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland)

“This valuable, lithe volume explores the ever-evolving, mutating forms of capitalism. It is a work of craft, intelligence and provocation. It reflects on some of the most important subterranean trends in contemporary societies. These unite the material and the immaterial, biology and power, economics and education. The contributors parse the intersections of intellectual and physical labour, paid and unpaid work, labour and pedagogy, research and gaming, free information and multi-national corporations, autonomy and liberalism, accumulation and enclosure, class and creativity. They do so with verve, steel and tenacious insight.” (Peter Murphy, Professor of Creative Arts and Social Aesthetics, James Cook University)

“If you read just a single book in the field of educational theory this year, make sure it’s this one. Drawing on the rich tradition of Marxist autonomism, the contributors pinpoint what the transmutation of labor and opening of new domains of class struggle under cognitive capitalism mean for education. The editors have assembled an impressive team, all accomplished scholars adept at envisioning changes in the sites and forms of knowledge-making, acquisition and contestation. For anyone interested in the educational implications of technologically-driven shifts in capitalism’s socio-economic structures, this is the volume to buy. Brimming with insight, balanced and lively – it will attract attention from scholars and students well beyond the confines of education faculties.” (James Reveley, Associate Professor, Faculty of Commerce, University of Wollongong)

“We have now for some time been undergoing intense technological and social revolutions that transformed the nature of labor, education and the capitalist economy. Peters and Bulut and their collaborators in ‘Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor’ chart out the changes in the new economy and social life and explore its consequences for education. All educators and those concerned with transformations of contemporary culture and society should be concerned with these issues and learn from this book.” (Douglas Kellner, UCLA; Author of ‘Guys and Guns Amok’ and ‘Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy’)

“The mainstream discourse of the knowledge economy is empty. The digital-Taylorist routinisation of much of the work that was once the preserve of knowledge workers and the offshoring of knowledge jobs to countries where skilled labour is much cheaper have given the game away. But it would be wrong to assume that the electronic/IT revolution has not changed our lives and our labour when it clearly has. This outstanding collection raises fundamental questions about knowledge, the role of education and labour in the digital world. It brings current debates to a new level and should be read by students, academics and policy makers across the globe.” (Hugh Lauder, Professor of Education and Political Economy, University of Bath)

“’Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor’ presents a new theory of capitalism and digital labor. It is a very valuable resource and will spark an industry of debate and elaboration. This book presents such a wealth of diverse material that any reader will find something new and challenging, and each chapter in this collection makes a welcome contribution to the growing literature in the field.” (George Lazaroiu, Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, New York)

“Cognitive capitalism is a crucial category for conceptualizing the workings of contemporary globalization. Using the theories of the Italian Autonomist Marxist tradition, or ‘operaismo’, Peters and Bulut along with the other authors in this collection present important, fascinating insights into capitalism, education and labor today. It should be read immediately by anyone concerned about how the daily practices of education prepare the multitude for the travails of their immaterial and material labor.” (Timothy W. Luke, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University)

“Peters and Bulut have provided us with a brilliant set of papers that take us to the heart of the political economy. Under ‘cognitive capitalism’ subjectivity is both the realm of freedom and the source of value, raising the stakes in control (governmentality). Hence the continuing fecundity of interpretations at the intersection of Marx/Foucault/Deleuze. We experience both larger productive community and heightened public surveillance, together with unsolvable tensions in education and research. But this book also reminds us that the circuits of cognitive capitalism continue to rest on a mountain of physical commodities, generated largely in the emerging economies and subject to more traditional (and more traditionally Marxist) forms of manufacture, energy consumption and hyper-exploitation of labour.” (Simon Marginson, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne, Australia)

“Education cannot be understood outside of the diverse national and global forces in which it is situated, including the increasing separation of power from local politics. This book brings together a number of first-rate theorists in making clear the relationship among knowledge, power and digital labor. The book is a tour de force for anyone interested in the new registers of power that are now shaping education on a global level. This is an important book and should be put on the class list of every educator who views education central to politics.” (Henry A. Giroux, Global Television Network Chair Professor, English and Cultural Studies Department, McMaster University)

“The exceptional contributions assembled for this timely volume carefully anatomize – and critically question – the category of cognitive capitalism and its composition. This book is a major resource for a generation of academic workers with a very real stake in developments, conflicts and debates surrounding the edu-factory.” (Greig de Peuter, Co-author of  ‘Games of Empire’).


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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Disguised as maximum fun’

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August 18, 19, and 20 – Three-Day Seminar on Debt & the Commons – with Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, and David Graeber

0. About the Seminar
1. Longer Introduction
2. Seminar Schedule
3. A Bibliography

0. About the Seminar

When: Thursday, Friday, Saturday / August 18,19,20
Who: Free (please rsvp, details below)
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor, New York City
What: 3 Day Seminar with Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, David Graeber

Beyond Good and Evil Commons is a three day seminar focusing on debt, economic crisis and the production of commons

The seminar organizes itself with and around the work of three individuals:  Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, and David Graeber

It will take the shape of 2 sessions per day, each session building around a talk by Silvia, George, and/or David and followed by collective discussions.

It is being organized in the spirit of collective inquiry inspired particularly by recent anti-debt organizing in NYC but draws also from a number of international contexts in which new political cultures have developed to challenge the command of money, austerity and debt in the crisis. Moreover, it builds off previous seminars organized in the space with friends over the last years.

The idea is, at least partially, to develop and test political concepts that help us better orient our understanding of these new political cultures but also aid us in further developing our own.  Our starting point is an attempt to bring together a politics through both an analysis of debt anthropologically and an anti-capitalist perspective on the commons.

The hope is to achieve some focus, to sharpen our terminologies and analytical tools, to direct our collective intelligence toward a new orientation of existing organizing efforts and guide new interventions as well, to better know what, how and with whom.  It is a difficult and elusive hope. It also relies on enough of us approaching the seminar with the idea of collectively enacting an enlarged framework for political action (which implicates many different practices).

We know that many on our list also live in different parts of the world. For this reason, we have put together a website with many readings as a resource. We also hope to be able to put some recordings from the presentations for those who are interested in following or connecting with this seminar. We also make the effort to articulate the motivations for the inquiry in the hopes that we can also build upon one another’s efforts.

For those planning to attend, we ask you to please RSVP, as it will allow us to better prepare.

You can do so by writing to seminars [the at sign] with rsvp in subject line.

The event is free, but we will be making a daily collection to cover basic expenses.


1. Longer Introduction

Molecular Investigations / Seminars

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we will continue a collective journey and experiment.

Over the last years, we have tried to organize with friends collective seminars (e.g., Continental Drift, Connective Mutations, Something Becomes Visible) which give participants an opportunity to have a rich intellectual experience attempting to raise critical questions about how we live, think, struggle – in an open, autonomous, non-institutional, non-commodified, non-authored situation. Those seminars have attempted to cross-weave intellectual efforts with activist and artistic practices. Moreover, rather than merely become attempts to represent ideas, knowledge, or knowingness, the seminars have been a part of an effort to situate and suggest, through the work of specific individuals, where we may devote further work collectively in the coming years. And to build potential solidarities across disciplines, practices, and approaches.

At their best, they have been like small, concise, intellectual bombs detonated carefully, collectively, not far from Wall Street, with all intents to illuminate the cracks in the edifices of those buildings, and on the ground, on the very terrain we cohabit. They have been suggestions for paths of individual, collective projects, militant investigations: artistic, intellectual, political, economic, activistic, and beyond.

In a period which has seen the neoliberal machine produce a seemingly invincible force of financialization, mega-gentrification, and militarization: together with a multitude of friends and contributors, we built up a counter-image and research of those aforementioned cracks. We have done this collectively, autonomously, and as a direct counter-force to the commodification and competitiveness that has all too often marked intellectuality in these same times. In doing so, we have placed ourselves, along with many other initiatives emerging globally, into a new situation, for the generation and maintenance of critical discourses, analyses, and practices.

An important struggle today is to realize how these practices, whether artistic, intellectual, or otherwise can most effectively combat the emergent paradigms of racism, militarization, and a more formulated, articulated war by the wealthiest elite and corporate interests on the very fabric of human and planetary reproduction.

For some people, six years ago, an introduction like this may have appeared as potentially catastrophic (or utopian), alarmist, or delirious.

In the midst of the recent insurrections in London, massive revolts against forced austerity measures in Spain, Greece, and throughout Europe, revolutionary resistance in North Africa and the Middle East, we find ourselves having to acknowledge that these efforts of collective research have not only been substantiated, but today ask how can they conjoin to actions, global political processes unfolding in our midst.

Today, the cracks appear as gaping holes, through which one of the most radical transformations of the world irrupts before our eyes.

Living amidst the civil war in Lebanon, a friend of the space once remarked that there is no official day, where everyone is notified that a civil war has commenced. It begins as a small series of loosely related events, which only later, can be reconstructed as a civil war with precise dates of commencement and end.

‘Returning to Normal life’?

How can one speak of returning to ‘normal life’ in the midst of a post-nuclear Japan? Where do we draw the limits of solidarity with that reality? Is the solidarity expressed as far as the radioactivity travels? Or will it end with the struggle to end nuclear plants or nuclear arms in every country? How can one speak of returning to ‘normal life’ in the midst of this historic transfer of common wealth to private banks and the continued intransigence on the part of those who govern (and in most cases, even their opposition parties) in confronting (rather than engendering) growing inequalities, processes of enclosure, social and ecological destruction? Will the outrage end when each particular group, being effected by cuts, saves a small piece of the pie to continue doing what they were before with even less resources? Will it end with a broad ‘new deal’ or ‘social contract’ as even many of the staunchest critics of neoliberalism hope?

Or can we imagine and build toward another horizon of struggle beyond the specificity of resisting nuclear technology or local/national austerity measures tied to financial speculation and crimes? How to connect to already occurring processes of revolt or production of commons? And can the efforts to build upon such processes of resistance be done without addressing the basic terms upon which we reproduce our lives?

The Proposal

The proposal is to collectively approach two notions which have valence in contemporary movements but call for further interrogation:

The Commons

There has been a great resurgence over the last decade or more in thinking about and elaborating the notion of the commons. As George Caffentzis writes: “The ‘commons’ has undergone a remarkable transformation in the last fifteen years,  from a word referring rather archaically to a grassy square in the centre of New England towns to one variously used by real estate developers,  ‘free software’ programmers,  ecological activists and peasant revolutionaries to describe very different,  indeed conflicting, purposes and realities., … “What accounts for this resurgence? What are the merits of this concept and its potential dangers as ‘two streams, coming from opposing perspectives’ begin to utilize and mobilize it?”

In exploring the prospects for a commons that is resistant to capitalism, one key position of this seminar, and it is a position, time and again, emphasized by Silvia Federici’s work, is the incorporation of basic insights of feminist critique concerning the centrality of reproduction within any social, economic, or political regime. Moreover, her consistent attention to women’s struggles to maintain spaces which are common – engender communal forms of life and social reproduction (historically and today), especially in impoverished parts of the world – points us to the necessity of learning from and using these experiences to better understand what resistance to capitalism can mean.

Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis have been two very important figures in conceptualizing and interrogating this notion of the commons as well as historic and contemporary processes of enclosures. In addition to their own writings, their work within the Midnight Notes collective has been an inspiration for sustained, collective, engaged research outside of the disciplining / enclosing that can happen in the university or academy. With their collaborators, they have offered some of the most decisive, direct, historically and geographically expanded account of capitalist accumulation and struggles of resistance. Their political commitments have sometimes overshadowed their theoretical contributions, and this seminar will be an opportunity to give space to those contributions and begin what we hope will be a longer inquiry together with them.


Whether it is through the imposition of or the resistance to debt, processes from above or below, one can see that debt obligations have been a central figure of political considerations.

From student debt strikes

To millions losing their homes or being foreclosed upon; from financial instruments imposed upon countries underwriting new enclosures; to the dismantling of social provisions and justifying politically motivated austerity measures, which rely upon seemingly objective ‘hard’ economic ‘realities’: debt is the terrain upon which various actors and discourses take shape.

But can an anthropological inquiry into debt help us view these processes and struggles in a new light? Can such an inquiry help us build upon contemporary struggles against debt?

David Graeber is among other things, an anarchist, a thinker, an anthropologist, and an activist. His intellectual contributions have been timely, pertinent, useful, and yet antagonistic to the established norms pertaining to each of those three terms. Thus one could speculate, under the regime of capitalist realism, his contributions would be characterized as ‘historical’, ‘inapplicable’, ‘unrealistic’; but somehow this has not been the case. David’s accessible approach to writing, as well as his insistence to situate his work in places where struggle takes place, has made his work resilient to dismissal. His current book entitled ‘Debt: The First 5000 Years’ is more than a theorization of debt: it is also a trenchant treatise exposing tangible limitations of imagination and language for describing the range of human relations existing historically and today. As David writes:

“This book is a history of debt,  then,  but it also uses that history as a way to ask fundamental questions about what human beings and human society are or could be like—what we actually do owe each other,  what it even means to ask that question. As a result, the book begins by attempting to puncture a series of myths—not only the Myth of Barter, which is taken up in the first chapter, but also rival myths about primordial debts to the gods, or to the state—that in one way or another form the basis of our common-sense assumptions about the nature of economy and society. In that common-sense view, the State and the Market tower above all else as diametrically opposed principles. Historical reality reveals, however, that they were born together and have always been intertwined. The one thing that all these misconceptions have in common, we will find, is that they tend to reduce all human relations to exchange, as if our ties to society, even to the cosmos itself, can be imagined in the same terms as a business deal. This leads to another question: If not exchange, then what?”

One Goal

A hope is, that for these three days, we could give our energies to these three individuals and one another. And construct together a kind of machine which could collectively take us to the center of two critical nodes in perceiving, understanding, and struggling with/against our contemporary reality.

A short parting note on London and beyond:

In 2005, with the revolts in Paris, pundits could characterize and particularize those revolts as disaffected and disenfranchised youth or even worse dismiss them by mobilizing xenophobic fears. There never was room for entertaining the racist readings of those events. And the events in Norwaythis summer further clarify where such a critique is coming from and headed. But the events in Parisstill left many wondering what was the political horizon or meaning of those revolts.

In the summer of 2011, any analysis of events, like those in London unfolding these last days, cannot but be read as part of a disarticulated yet emerging globalized picture of revolt against ‘capital’, capitalists, and the various state forms that have advocated on their behalf.

Thus, this seminar takes place in the midst of these events and struggles. Thus, there is an additional hope that collectively we can consider what global solidarity can look like, unfolding across different modes of doing, producing, and thinking in light of such events.

The seminar has been organized with and by Silvia, George, David, 16 Beaver Group, This Is Forever, and various individuals affiliated and not affiliated with other spaces and initiatives in New York.


2. Schedule

THURSDAY – August 18
Doors open at 4:00

Session 1
4:30 – 6:45 Silvia / George
light food
Session 2
7:15 – 9:30 David

FRIDAY, August 19th
Doors open at 4:00

Session 3
4:30 – 6:45 Silvia / George
light food
Session 4
7:15 – 9:30 David

SATURDAY, August 20th
Doors open at 1:00

Session 5
2:00 – 4:30 David
light food
Session 6
5:00 – 7:30 Silvia / George

Please note:
This schedule is a script of what we have planned. The actual seminar times and order may be altered according to how things unfold. Best place to follow changes or updates will be on our website for the seminar:


3. The Bibliography

A full and updated bibliography can be found on the seminar website with additional texts:

Below, we have listed a shorter selection of readings:

-\ \ \ Midnight Notes
The New Enclosures n.10:

-\ \ \ Silvia Federici
Feminism And the Politics of the Commons:

-\ \ \ George Caffentzis
The Future of ‘the Commons’: Neoliberalism’s ‘Plan B’ or the Original Disaccumulation of Capital?

-\ \ \ David Graeber
Debt: The First Five Thousand Years (overview from Mute 2009):

All from DEBT, THE FIRST 5, 000 YEARS

On the Experience of Moral Confusion:

A Brief Treatise on the Moral Grounds of Economic Relations:

1971–The Beginning of Something Yet to Be Determined:


16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10004

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‘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)  


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New issue of Variant Magazine

Variant, issue 37, Spring / Summer 2010

…the free, independent, arts magazine. In-depth coverage in the context of broader social, political & cultural issues.

Culture is one of the most important fields in the struggle for a more democratic, egalitarian and free society. If the changes currently proposed to this field by the Polish authorities are not subject to a wide social debate, consultation and criticism, they will bring catastrophic results for both the producers of culture and society as a whole. Culture should be perceived as a public good, not a privilege for a selected group of citizens. The dangers embedded in the governmental proposals for reforms in the domain of culture have already been discussed by artists, theorists, cultural and social activists. All agree that culture is a very specific field of production, and that it would be endangered by an exclusively market-oriented strategy of organizing it.

For the Polish authorities, culture appears to be just another life-sphere ready to be colonized by neoliberal capitalism. Attempts are being made to persuade us that the ‘free’ market, productivity and income oriented activities are the only rational, feasible and universal laws for social development. This is a lie. For us – the cultural producers – culture is a space of innovation and experimental activity, an environment for lively self-realization. This is under threat. Our lives, emotions, vulnerability, doubts, purposes and ideas are to become a commodity – in other words, a mere product to fuel the development of new forms of capitalist exploitation. It is not culture that needs “business exercises” it is the market that needs a cultural revolution. That revolution should not be understood as a one time “coup d’état”, but as a permanent, vigilant and compassionate dissent, a will to protest against, verify and criticize any form of colonization of the field of culture for the private interests of market players and bureaucrats.

Therefore we say: “We would prefer not to”. Our resistance is an expression of our more general protest against the commodification of social relations, its reifying character and general social injustice. We hereby express our existential and political solidarity with the people who oppose this marketization of all spheres of social and personal life. Culture plays an important role as a space for experimentation and reflection, for creating mutual trust and bonds between people. Cultural interactions based on the spontaneous activity of individuals and groups play a crucial role for the development of the society, including its economic dimension. Recognizing the importance of this is a necessary step in creating a space for self-realization and democratic debate.



Radical Change In Culture / Manifesto

On bullshit in cultural policy practice & research 
Eleonora Belfiore

Remembering Brian Barry
Femi Folorunso

Launch of ‘Friends of Belge’ : An Appeal for Solidarity 
Desmond Fernandes

Print Creations Comic & Zine reviews
Mark Pawson

Doodley-doo? Doodley don’t! Life and Sabotage 
Gesa Helms

Comment : “Art Workers Won’t Kiss Ass” 
Owen Logan

Precarious Labor: A Feminist Viewpoint
Silvia Federici

Overidentification and/or bust?
Stevphen Shukaitis

Learning to Breathe Protest
Salong, Interflugs, Academy of Refusal, 10th Floor

‘We have decided not to die.’ On taking and leaving the University
Marina Vishmidt

The Tyranny of Rent
Neil Gray

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Neoliberalism continues to transform public space in geographically uneven and variegated ways, with far reaching and profound consequences.  On the first day, the conference will provide context for various means of privatization and elaborate on language and visions for discussing this issue.  On the second day, workshops will bring together students, activists, artists, and organizations engaged in imagining and practicing new and creative means of resistance to the new round of enclosures taking place on a global scale.

Day 1 Conference: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York City

9:00 a.m. Introduction and Welcome – Setha Low, President; William P. Kelly; and Provost Chase F. Robinson of CUNY Graduate Center

9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Privatization of Public Space: Historical and Contemporary New York City – with Sharon Zukin, Gregory Smithsimon, Andrew Newman


11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Reconsidering Privatization: Neoliberal Strategies, Securitization and Privacy – with Kevin Ward, Setha Low, Kurt Iveson

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Beyond Public and Private: Privatization and the Global Fiscal Crisis – with Neil Smith, Katherine Verdery, Bill McKinney


4-5:30 Visions of the Future: Race, Class and Gender – with Mindy Fullilove, David Harvey, Cindi Katz

5:30-6:00 p.m.

Wrap up and further discussion

6:00-7:00 p.m. Reception

Day 2 Workshops: Thursday, April 22, 2010 Rooms 5414 and 5409 (5th Floor) CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York City

To RSVP for Day 2, find us on Facebook (search “resisting enclosure”) or RSVP by sending an email to! RSVP is not require d for entrance but helps us make sure we accommodate everyone! (Please include any special needs information.)

9:00 a.m.  Registration

9:30 a.m. Opening discussion, with David Harvey

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Workshop 1:  Anti-Gentrification and Community Self-Determination, with CAAAV’s Chinatown Tenants Union and Picture the Homeless Workshop 2:  Artistic Interruptions in Everyday Life, with Dara Greenwald, Manu Sachdeva, Jeff Stark and Jordan Seiler

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch (on site)

1:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Workshop 3:  Neoliberalism, Securitization and Enclosures in South Asia, with Ahilan Kadirgamar, Biju Mathew, Preeti Sampat and Saadia Toor

Workshop 4: The University and the Commons, with Silvia Federici, Malav Kanuga, Mary Taylor and the Coalition to Preserve Community

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
“Asking We Walk”: Collective Theorizations/Mapping Emancipations?

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Recept ion

Free and Open.  Food and refreshments will be provided.

Public Space Research Group at the Center for Human Environments, Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, Ph.D. Programs in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Sociology, Doctoral Students’ Council, SpaceTime Research Collective (STRC) and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI)

Organized by:
Setha Low, The Graduate Center, CUNY; Kevin Ward, University of Manchester; Lalit Batra, Doctoral Student in Earth and Environmental Sciences; Fiona Jeffries, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Place, Culture and Politics; Erin Siodmak, Doctoral Student in Sociology; Laurel Mei Turbin, Doctoral Student in Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Antonio Negri

Antonio Negri


Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis on the Politics of Oil
On Tuesday NOVEMBER 10th at 6:30PM

Join Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis as they discuss big oil’s cultural and political violence with Peter Maass, contributing editor at The New York Times Magazine and the author of the recently published Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil.

The event is moderated by Ashley Dawson, Associate Professor of English, The Graduate Center, CUNY.  The event will take place at the Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave btwn 34th and 35th (The Skylight Room, 9100)

Ariel Salleh on Eco-Sufficiency with Silvia Federici
On Wednesday, November 11th at 7:00PM, ARIEL SALLEH will be presenting on a feminist and ecologically integrated politics of the commons, themes central to her recently edited volume, Eco-Sufficiency & Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology (Pluto Press, 2009).  She will be introduced by and in dialogue with SILVIA FEDERICI. The event takes place at Bluestockings Bookstore (172 Allen Street, NYC 10002).

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