Recuperation (of antagonistic, oppositional or emancipatory Forms of Cultural Production)

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London Conference in Critical Thought
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Recuperation is an inexorable feature of late capitalism, as modes of art and cultural expression that once were resistant, oppositional or antagonistic from the 1960's and 70's have been gradually absorbed by
capitalism and its attendant apparatus, such that a certain generation has no idea what even constitutes "political dissent" because they have never seen examples of it. Land art which once rejected the
commodification and circulation of discrete objects of the gallery system has now dissipated into high end "art tourism." Minimalism which was once a refutation and threat to the Western infatuation with pictorial representation has now been de-historicized and caricaturized into a banal design aesthetic. Site-specific installation which was once in opposition to the idealist space of sculpture and the logic of the monolithic monument was diluted into a benign marketing feature of the globalized art economy eager to manufacture consumable "difference" to break with the ever-encroaching homogenization of place. Institutional critique has been domesticated and instrumentalized by the institution to create the appearance of an innocuous

Recuperation has reverberations outside the realm of visual art as well, from the commodification of dissent (consumer as "rebel hero") and blatant Western commercialization of former Eastern Bloc "democratic" revolutions (i.e. Serbia's Otpor on MTV), to the recuperation of queer activism into queer consumerism ("pink money"). There is also the recuperation of a "postmodernism" of resistance, an oppositional epistemology that destabilized the grand narratives of Enlightenment into now a cynical a-historical "anything goes" postmodernism disemboweled of any element of critical resistance, complicit with neoliberal capitalism (as outlined by Frederic Jameson); as well as Boltanski & Chiapello's analysis of how the May 1968 Marcusian critique of the alienation of capitalist bureaucracy was simply recuperated into a more expansive, ingenious mode of capitalism—namely, post-Fordist networks of flexibility. In light of this, we must ask, "Is there no 'outside' position?" How can we theorize or historicize this phenomenon where the hollow shell of an oppositional form is preserved but it has been disemboweled of any actual oppositional content?

Other possible "recuperation" motifs might include, but are in no way limited to:
• Recuperation of digital technology, algorithms, big data or "smart technology" to capitalism or capitalist
• Recuperation of grassroots democracy vis-à-vis social media into now "cognitive capitalism"
• Recuperation of dissent by grassroots democracy into now dissent through consumerism
• Recuperation of Arab Spring democracy movements to authoritarianism
• Recuperation of feminism to a neoliberal agenda
• Recuperation of queer activism to queer consumerism (as evidenced by San Francisco activist group
"Gay Shame" who, disgusted with the consumerism of Gay Pride weekend, forms a counter-demonstration
during Gay Pride week-end called "Gay Shame") (
• Recuperation of posthumanism/reproductive futurism/cyborg theory to techno-scientific capitalism
• Recuperation of critical theory (Deleuze & Guattari's notion of "smooth and striated space") for militaristic
purposes (

We seek to put together a cross-disciplinary "mini-think tank" from diverse fields (visual art, performance studies, cultural studies, critical theory, experimental geography, law, political science, linguistics, rhetoric, film, and others) with proposals related to "recuperation" of oppositional, antagonistic, resistant, or
emancipatory forms of cultural production/art, activism or political movements. How does recuperation function? What is it that we seek to escape "recuperation" from (neoliberalism, militarism, consumerism,
heteronormativity, Western hegemony, etc.)? Refutations, contradictions, or complications of the recuperation thesis are welcome also.


CONFERENCE JUNE 24 & 25, 2016 at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, UK
Send Proposals to Stream Organiser ANDREA LIU at "" and ""