UPDATE: [International] New Radical Subjectivities: Re-thinking Agency for the 21st Century

full name / name of organization: 
Caroline Edwards

New Radical Subjectivities: Re-thinking Agency for the 21st Century

The University of Nottingham, UK
Friday, September 19th, 2008

Keynote Speaker â€" Professor Peter Hallward (Middlesex University)

This one day conference for postgraduate students and early career
researchers explores recent articulations of subjectivity and political
agency in critical theory and cultural studies. The continued ascent of
neo-liberalism and economic globalisation, along with postmodern and
poststructuralist theorising around subjectivity, potentially sets a
dangerously de-politicised subject against the expanding forces and
inequalities of contemporary capitalism.

Over the last twenty-five years, theoretical writings on the left have
stressed the need to locate subject positions beyond the reductionism of
an orthodox Marxism, and the disabling extremes of liberal anti-
essentialism. Concepts which continue to posit some form of subjective
agency have attempted to respond to the human issues at stake in
contemporary political formations without compromising a theoretical
commitment to a discursively produced subject. From Gayatri
Spivak’s ‘strategic essentialism’ and Laclau and Mouffe’s ‘radical
democracy’ to more recent articulations such as Hardt and
Negri’s ‘multitude’ and the Lacanian and post-Lacanian thought of Slavoj
Žižek and Alain Badiou, these writers all stress the continuing
importance of leftist theories of the subject that can provide a
theoretical antidote to the excesses of relativist pluralism and identity

Such thinkers as Fredric Jameson and Susan Buck-Morss therefore stress
the importance of posing agency at a trans-individual and collective
level. These positions emphasise the importance of opposition and agonism
in any radical politics, rather than consensual or ‘third way’
liberalism. Collective identities therefore continue to offer a crucial
grounding for Leftist (re)considerations of subjectivity as a necessary
form of agency for radical change, even if these groupings prove to be
only ever strategic or temporary.

We invite papers from researchers working in critical theory, cultural
studies, literature, film, the visual arts, history, politics and the
social sciences which explore, but are not limited to, the following

Is the subject still the locus for a radical left politics?
What forms of radical or oppositional agency are now emerging?
What roles can class, gender and ethnicity play for new subjectivities?
Does the left need to go beyond opposition and resistance towards the
construction of new ‘subjective’ political spaces?
What aesthetic or cultural forms are currently engaging with and creating
new subjective or collective agencies?
What contributions can Lacanian and post-Lacanian thought make to
contemporary political subjectivity?
Are theories of subjectivity currently responding adequately to
developments in a globalized resistance, such as the anti-globalization
movement, the resurgence of the left in Latin America, and religious
Do changes in social production initiated by economic and cultural
globalization offer a new potential for collective emancipation, or are
they only ever complicit with a hegemonic global capitalism?
Do digital technologies offer new ways for rethinking agency?
What is the role of Utopia in new political formations?

Abstracts of 200-250 words should be submitted by e-mail as a Word
attachment to newradicalsubjectivities_at_gmail.com by 30th May 2008 and
should include name, affiliation, e-mail address, title of paper and 4

Peter Hallward is the author of Absolutely Postcolonial: Writing between
the Singular and the Specific (Manchester, 2001), Badiou: A Subject to
Truth (Minnesota, 2003), Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of
Creation (Verso, 2006), and most recently, Damming the Flood: Haiti,
Aristide, and the Politics of Containment (Verso, 2007).

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Received on Thu May 15 2008 - 07:30:56 EDT