Material Matters in Times of Crisis Capitalism: Transnational Feminist and Decolonial Approaches

International Conference / Justus-Liebig University, Giessen / Nov. 13 – 15, 2014        

The question of materiality has emerged as a central topic in studies concerned with the body, affect, sexuality, bio-politics and digital culture in recent years. Under the umbrella term “new materialism”, this interdisciplinary and multifaceted academic debate seems to have revived a Marxist vocabulary. Yet, the question of why “materiality” matters in times of crisis capitalism is rather absent in this debate.

This conference takes up this question by focusing on why and how materiality matters in times of crisis capitalism. Starting from the assumption that crisis is not exceptional in capitalism but its constant companion and that it represents the foundation from which the modern/colonial world system has evolved, this conference draws on critical feminist economics and decolonial feminist thought and practice on material matters.

The 2007/2008 financial crash led to the re-assembling or dismantling of the welfare state in Western Europe and the reordering of old global economic interdependencies. While the rise of China, India and Brazil as emerging economic world powers highlights the flexible potential of capitalist expansion, the increasing gap between rich and poor globally denotesthe stagnation and decline of an economic system guided by the financial interest of a selected few. Social protests from Tahri Square (Cairo) to Puerta de Sol (Madrid) to TaqsimSquare (Istanbul) to Rio de Janeiro have shown that the financial crisis cannot be reducedsolely to its economic dimension.

These protests have foregrounded the social and cultural dimensions of the crisis of capitalism. Located between struggles for common wealth and the reorganization of production and reproduction, crisis capitalism refers to processes of social transformationchanging and challenging people’s livelihood, which in turn impact on their well-being, health, education, housing and working conditions. Indeed, we are witnessing multiple crises. It is in this context that this conference calls for transnational feminist analyses of materiality at the juncture of global political economy and coloniality.

The conference has three inter-related aims: first, to examine from transnational feminist perspectives the impact of the global crisis on people’s livelihoods; second, to explore the theoretical contributions of the triad of feminism, coloniality and political economy; and,third, to consider critical feminist economics and decolonial approaches to thinkingalternative economies and convivial futures.

In this spirit we have invited key contemporary thinkers, who have linked academic work to political activism and social intervention.  Confirmed keynote speakers for the conference include:

  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Columbia University)
  • Rhoda Reddock (University of the West Indies, St. Augustine)
  • Lourdes Benería (Cornell University)
  • Gülay Toksöz (Ankara University)
  • Gladys Elizabeth Tzul Tzul (Benemérita Universidad de Puebla)
  • Marina Gržinić (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna)

As well as inviting academic papers this conference also calls for contributions from activists and artists in a variety of formats such as blogs, radio programmes, video clips and performances on the following themes (though these are by no means exhaustive):

  • Between Crisis and Change: Feminism, Living Well and Conviviality (Sumak Kawsay, Suma Qamaña-Buen Vivir, Buen Convivir)
  • Queer, Transgender and Feminist approaches to Decolonizing Political Economy
  • Political Economy and Livelihood
  • Austerity, Gender & Migration
  • Sharing Responsibilities – Rethinking Reproduction
  • Sustainability and Feminist-Decolonial Thought
  • Feminization and the Coloniality of Labour
  • Queer, Transgender and Feminist-Decolonial Critiques of Crisis Capitalism
  • Alternatives to Crisis Capitalism: From Time-Banks to the Politics of Affect

Please send a title, an abstract of max. 250 words, a brief biography and registration form to femlabour@gmail.com, by 01.05.2014. Successful abstract submissions will be notified by 01.07.2014.

No fees will be charged, but you will need to pay for the conference dinner, your own traveland accommodation. The conference programme, information on the conference venue, conference dinner and accommodation facilities will be announced in due course.

Conference Organizing Team: Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Chair in Sociology (Allgemeine Soziologie), Ceren Türkmen and Sebastian Garbe, wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter/in (Research Assistants/Lecturers), Institute of Sociology, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen.