Toward a Democracy with Rights: The 14th Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group, March 15-17

full name / name of organization: 
Marxist Reading Group, University of Florida
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Submission Deadline: January 6, 2012

Keynote Speaker: Rosemary Hennessy

Marxism, feminism, queer theory, and critical race theory all share a commitment to the theorization of political communities constituted in opposition to systems of domination (normativity, inequality, hegemony, class, etc.). These theoretical approaches suggest a potential countermeasure to democracy's slide into neoliberal rhetoric emptied of participatory agency and material rights. With this contradiction, neoliberal and post-Fordist "democracies" ignore the juridical and political rights of the multitude and render their labor and material lives precarious—a movement toward a democracy without rights. A democracy with rights, then, must be reconstituted by the subjectivities, geographies, and politics being marginalized in the present. The question becomes how to imagine, represent, and construct this future democracy that will also challenge the ideology of community itself.

The fourteenth annual conference of the Marxist Reading Group investigates how democracy must be constituted by subjective experience and systemic critique. How can rethinking the material imbrications of capital and "identity" give us a clearer sense of how democratic communities can be brought into existence? How can articulations of standpoint theory resist reification and gesture towards a clearly necessary systemic critique of class, gender, race, and sexuality? How can desire and affect expressed in and experienced through historically specific practices of community resist the atomization and cynicism of late capitalism? How to have a democracy for all?

Rosemary Hennessy is professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University. She is the author of Materialist Feminism and the Politics of Discourse (1993), Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (2000), and most recently, NAFTA From Below: Maquiladora Workers, Campesinos, and Indigenous Communities Speak Back (2006).

Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:
• affect and radical subjectivities in recent political movements, (Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, etc.)
• "queering" of materialist and capitalist productions (e.g. camp, drag)
• issues of sexual reproduction and labor in the bedroom
• black Marxism and other historical articulations of radical community and subjectivity
• consequences of China's state-capitalism as a "capitalism without democracy"
• ways capital accumulates profit by transgressing and deploying heteronormativity
• gender(ing) and the international division of labor
• feminist reclamations of domestic space
• commodification of women's suffering
• socialism and the development of anti-capitalist feminism
• problematizing gender spheres and division of labor
• historical reevaluations of women's labor movements

Please submit a 250-word abstract (and some subject keywords) for a 20-minute presentation along with a short bio and contact information to by January 6, 2012. Please indicate any a/v requirements (DVD player and data projection available). Authors of accepted papers will be notified by January 31, 2012. For questions concerning the conference, please contact us at For information on previous conferences, please check out our site: