“Remaking Revolution” Conference
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York
April 16-17, 2004
This interdisciplinary conference invites intellectuals working within various theoretical traditions and social movements to consider the fate of political revolution in America, the advanced industrial West, and the world.
While many were quick to claim the "end of history" as the Cold War came to a close, alter-globalization protests at the WTO, IMF and G7 meetings, the vocal manifestations of (post-)feminist activists from the Guerilla Girls to the riot grrrrrls and the phenomenal success of Hardt and Negri’s defiantly communist tour de force, Empire showed that radical desires were alive and well in the post-modern new world order. Throughout the 1990s, emerging transnational activist networks facilitated waves of opposition to militarism and corporate globalization. From the Chiapas Uprising and the Battle of Seattle to the recent breakdown in the Cancun WTO talks, the alter-globalization movement has evolved into an increasingly formidable, expansive presence. Yet, the concept of resistance and the word “revolution” itself have become more problematic than ever before. In the post-Cold War world, consumer culture sells itself as "revolutionary" – from Nike’s marketing of high tech sneakers via the Beatles and notions of urban working class authenticity to the corporate-engineered dissent of popular rock groups like Limp Bizkit and the Spice Girls. The counter-cultural tendencies that emerged as part of the heroic “Great Refusal” during the sixties have seemingly adjusted themselves to consumer capitalism. For many, to resist Starbucks’ grande caramel macchiato or a Wal-Mart shopping spree now takes on an air of militancy.
This conference invites participants to reflect on the related concepts of revolution and resistance in the contemporary context. Are we to assume that the visions of political revolution that animated the major social insurgencies of the 20th century have failed? If Marx, Lenin, and Fanon are politically dead, should we add Marcuse, Foucault, and Haraway to the list as well? Do the unique technological features of postmodern capitalism render old models of class struggle and revolution obsolete -- or more relevant? How has the decline of class as a unifying concept affected radical politics? Can “class” be reconceptualized in a way that facilitates its revival? Is such a revival necessary to the future of emancipatory politics? Is there room for the state within contemporary visions of radical democracy? What new forms of political organization might prevail given the passage of vanguard parties, workers councils, national liberation struggles and state socialism? What new political subjectivities are emerging under the conditions of postmodern capitalism? Where do we find resistance today, and what strategies and orientations might revitalize, expand and sustain political opposition?
We invite proposals for complete panels and individual papers. Proposals for each paper should include an abstract (300 words or less) and a brief curriculum vitae (one page).
Some possible themes:
Empire and revolution
Revolutions and the “Third World”/Global South
New Identity Movements and Revolution
Is post-modern revolution possible?
Class politics and post-modern/ information capitalism
Millenarianism and revolutionary politics
Revolution, repression and dissent in the Post 9/11 World
Is anti-sweatshop/ consumer-based activism “revolutionary”?
The “Multitude,” proletariats and radical subjectivity
Culture jamming/ popular culture as revolutionary space
The deradicalization and renewal of the American left
Communist alternatives after state socialism
Department of Political Science
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456-3397 Email: email@example.com
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