Polygraph 28 "Marxism and Climate Change"

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Michael Gaffney, Claire Ravenscroft, and Casey Williams
contact email: 

Call for Papers

Polygraph 28 “Marxism and Climate Change”

In recent years, scholars have begun to consider the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents to Marxist analysis. Dipesh Chakrabarty emphasizes the difficulty of theorizing the climate crisis through a capitalist critique alone, and suggests concepts like “species” can replace their Marxist alternatives. For Bruno Latour, as well as various object-oriented ontologies and new materialisms, Marxism stands beside the posthuman point: the Anthropocene calls us to recognize the power of nonhuman actors in human life. Against such revisions of Marxist analysis, Andreas Malm suggests that class struggle has and will continue to condition transitions from one dominant energy source to another. And Jason Moore’s concepts “Capitalocene” and “world-ecology” suggest that Marxism remains necessary for thinking ecological crisis and capitalist production at the same time. For scholars like John Bellamy Foster, Marxism clarifies the Anthropocene’s determination by contradictory “rift” dynamics of accumulation and externalization, implying that we must address capitalism to address the ecological crisis. 

Taking into account these different perspectives, the 28th issue of Polygraph explores Marxism’s relationship to climate change. Is Marxism still relevant today, as historical scales expand, new materialisms take the academic stage, and worker exploitation appears as only one problem among many contemporary crisis conditions? Can Marxism speak to climate change or to such prevailing ecocritical rubrics as the “Anthropocene”? If so, what does it have to say? Hovering in the background here is another question: can capitalism survive climate change? Does capitalism run aground on insuperable ecological limits, or does it constantly overcome them? What, if any, forms of utopian alternatives are available in climate change’s shadow?

Possible topics may include:

  • Marxist historicism and nonhuman temporal scales
  • The political subject(s) of the Anthropocene
  • The relationship between the proletariat and the “Anthropos” or the “species” 
  • Capitalism and petroculture
  • The labor politics of energy
  • Renewable energy “transitions” 
  • Marxism and new materialisms
  • Marxist aesthetics, theories of cultural production, and ecocritical scholarship 
  • Capitalism and ecological crisis
  • Marxist-feminism and social reproduction
  • Eco-Marxism and race
  • Eco-Marxism, the “Global South,” and “the subaltern”
  • “Capitalocene,” “Plantationocene,” “Chthulucene” 
  • Eco-Marxism, neoliberalism, and the state 
  • Marxism and ecological utopias 

Submissions between 5,000 and 9,000 words are due to polygraphduke@gmail.com by January 31, 2019. Include your name, affiliation, and contact information. Please send other inquiries to the editors via the following email addresses: michael.gaffney@duke.educlaire.ravenscroft@duke.edu, and casey.a.williams@duke.edu

Polygraph is an annual interdisciplinary journal affiliated with the Literature Program at Duke University. It is edited and produced by a collective of humanities graduate students. Visit our website at https://polygraphjournal.com