NeMLA Panel_"Culture, Imperialism, Capital: Said and Marx against the Grain"

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

In 1993, Edward Said published—to great acclaim and critical discussion—what would come to be considered a signal achievement: Culture and Imperialism. Twenty-five years onward, Said’s text remains central to literary work from postcolonial studies to the Victorian novel, the New Historicism to World literature. Its endurance, it would seem, lay in its breadth: the magnitude of Said’s intervention, its power of synthesis, its inventive critical modes.

Rather than conduct a retrospective by championing Said’s work for its ongoing relevance and resonant claims, this panel seeks to offer Said an interlocutor, one whose own legacy is marked by its broad influence and powerful critical analysis: Karl Marx. The relationship between Said and Marx has been, perhaps surprisingly, underdeveloped. While Said is far more attuned to questions of the literary than those of political-economy, his engagement with Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács, and Theodor Adorno suggests a certain affiliative commitment to Marx’s legacy. Similarly, Marx’s own concern for European history and for the imperialism at the heart of capitalist expansion draws his commitments closer to Said’s project than has been previously noted.

This panel invites papers that address such intersections—broadly thought—between Said and Marx. After 25 years of Culture and Imperialism, we seek to renew Said’s relevance by thinking such a crucial text with and against the long history of Marxian and Marxist thought. In a political moment defined by a redoubled ethno-nationalism, anti-global thought, and xenophobic pandering, the relevance of both Said and Marx remains crucial. By locating and drawing out the antinomies, affiliations, and aporias between these two thinkers, we hope to redraw the lines of alliance and antagonism that define each, and so produce an account of how to think literature and politics in the present. Relevant topics may include:

· Contrapuntal Reading and Dialectical Materialism

· History and Empire Studies

· Post-, de-, and anti-colonial theories and Marx(ism)

· Status of Cultural Studies

· Cultural Materialism and Said

· Said with/against Adorno, Gramsci, Lukács, Benjamin, etc.

· Theory and/of Praxis

250-500 word abstracts due through the NeMLA portal