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Marxist Theory Seminar

Seminar in Contemporary Marxist Theory

A speaker series organised by King’s College London (Departments of European and International Studies, Geography and French; School of Management & Business), Queen Mary University of London (Law), and Loughborough University London (Institute for International Management). All seminars are open to the public. No registration is required. 

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Scheduled Talks

Lee Wengraf (Activist and writer)
Extracting Profit: Neoliberalism, Imperialism and the New Scramble for Africa

Book launch with discussant: Elisa Greco (University of Leeds)
21 November
Bush House Lecture Theatre 3, NE 0.01
30 Aldwych
London, WC2B 4BG

In the first decade and a half of the twenty-first century, Africa has undergone an economic boom. Rising global prices in oil and minerals have produced a scramble for Africa’s natural resources, led by investment from US, European and Chinese companies, and joined by emerging economies from around the globe. Rather than job creation, this period of “Africa rising” has fuelled the extraction of natural resources, profits accruing to global capital, and an increasingly wealthy African ruling class. Extracting Profit argues that the roots of today’s social and economic conditions lie in the historical legacies of colonialism and the imposition of so-called “reforms” by global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The chokehold of debt and austerity of the late twentieth century paved the way for severe assaults on African working classes through neoliberal privatization and deregulation. And while the scramble for Africa’s resources has heightened the pace of ecological devastation, examples from Somalia and the West African Ebola outbreak reveal a frightening surge of militarization on the part of China and the US. Yet this “new scramble” has not gone unchallenged. Lee Wengraf convincingly shows this with her accounts of platinum workers’ struggles in South Africa, Nigerian labour organizing and pro-democracy upheavals in Uganda and Burkina Faso.


Matthias Lievens (KU Leuven, Belgium)
Jean-Paul Sartre on masses, classes and their struggles

5 December
Bush House SE 1.01
30 Aldwych
London, WC2B 4BG

Sartre’s second magnum opus, the Critique of Dialectical Reason, is generally understudied amongst Marxist scholars. It is a work of tremendous complexity and huge theoretical ambitions, but generally considered a failure. Yet, in the context of his attempt to prove ‘the dialectic’, Sartre develops a number of fascinating arguments of lasting importance for social and political theory, including an original theory of social classes. Key to this theory is the ambivalence of class, torn between practical activity and inert massification, action and passion. The working class can exist both in a disaggregated form, as a purely inert mass, and it can manifest itself as a multiplicity of subjects of radical change. Always internally plural and divided, it is engaged in a struggle on different fronts: not only against other classes, but also against its own forces of inertia. This paper reconstructs the main tenets of Sartre’s theory of class, which brings Marxism and existentialism together, includes elements from the French sociological tradition and its study of mass behavior, and radically distances itself from autonomist accounts of class (such as that of the early Claude Lefort). How do individuals ‘live’ the fact that they are part of a class? What does it mean for a sociological class to become a political subject? How does Sartre understand the complex, multilayered and asymmetrical nature of class conflict? How can relations of class forces be analysed, and how can Sartre help us understand the difficult position of working classes today?


Past Speakers

William Clare Roberts (McGill)
Marx’s politics of freedom
8 November 2018

Majed Akhter (King's College London)
Geopolitics of the Belt and Road: Space, State, and Capital in China and Pakistan
17 October 2018

Dr Tomas Rotta (University of Greenwich)
Unproductive accumulation in the USA: Knowledge, exploitation and income Inequality
21 March 2018

Dr Alexander Loftus (King’s College London)
Gramsci as a historical geographical materialist
9 May 2018

Dr Julia Nicholls (King’s College London)
Marx's Capital and the origins of Marxism in modern France
14 February 2018

Professor Bill Bowring (Birkbeck)
Marx, the State, and Spinoza: Against Hobbes and Schmitt
17 November 2018

Dr Anne Alexander (University of Cambridge)
Marxist approaches to understanding Islam and Islamism: a critical reappraisal
29 November 2017

Professor Claude Serfati (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin)
Le militaire: une histoire française (book launch)
Discussants: Prof Alex Callinicos (King’s College London) and Dr Eva Nanopoulos (Queen Mary)
18 October 2017

Professor Leo Panitch (York University)
Trumping the American Empire?
8 November 2017

Dr Rutvica Andrjiasevic
Foxconn beyond China: Capital-labour relations as co-determinants of global organisation of production
9 May 2017

Professor Lea Ypi (LSE)
Legitimacy, Dictatorship and Utopia: A Marxist Perspective on Political Obligation
22 March 2017

Professor Alan Cafruny (Hamilton College, USA) and Prof Magnus Ryner (King's College London);
The European Union and Global Capitalism (book launch)

Discussants: Professor Jane Hardy (Hertfordshire) & Professor Engelbert Stockhammer (Kingston)
15 March 2017

Dr Tony Norfield
Finance and the Imperialist World Economy
8 February 2017

Dr Claes Belfrage (University of Liverpool)
Financialisation and the Crisis-tendencies in the New Swedish Model
30 November 2016

Dr Ana Dinerstein (University of Bath)
Discussing Utopia in 21st Century Capitalism
29 November 2016

Professor Stefan Kipfer (York University)
Which Decolonial Gramsci? A Case for the Fanon-Gramsci Lineage
9 November 2016

Ian Angus (Editor of Climate & Capitalism)
Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System
19 October 2016

Professor Erik Olin Wright (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
How to be an anti-capitalist for the 21st century
6 October, 2016

Dr Paolo Gerbaudo (King’s College London)
‘Anarcho-populism: on the ideology of the movement of the squares of 2011’
17 February 2016

Dr Yuliya Yurchenko (University of Greenwich)
‘Social forces in the making of contemporary Ukraine: capitalist rivalries and the dispossessed’
20 January 2016

Professor Riccardo Bellofiore &Professor Alex Callinicos
A Dialogue on Alex Callinicos’s book Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny
9 November 2015

Dr Stathis Kouvelakis
Lessons of the Greek Crisis
21 October 2015

Dr Nicholas De Genova
Theorising the ‘Crisis' of the European Border Regime
25 November 2015

Dr Matt Vidal (King's College London)
Postfordism: the geriatric stage of Atlantic capitalism
18 February 2015

Dr Lucia Pradella (University of Venice Ca' Foscari and SOAS)
Globalization and the critique of political economy: new insights from Marx’s writings
18 March 2015

Professor Bob Jessop (Lancaster University)
Re-reading Poulantzas in and for the current crisis
21 January 2015 


Seminar Organisers

Alex Callinicos (King’s College London)

Stathis Kouvelakis (King’s College London)

Alex Loftus (King’s College London)

Eva Nanopoulos (Queen Mary University of London)

Lucia Pradella (King’s College London)

Matt Vidal (Loughborough University London)



Videos of the "Capital.150: Marx’s 'Capital' Today" conference, featuring David Harvey, Michael Roberts, Guglielmo Carchedi, Paul Mattick Jr, Ben Fine, Tony Norfield, Alex Callinicos, Fred Moseley and Beverly Silver. 

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