CALL FOR PAPERS
International Herbert Marcuse Society Conference
Oct. 26-28, 2017
York University, Toronto, Canada
“The Dialectics of Liberation in an Age of Neoliberal Capitalism”
In the summer of 1967 Herbert Marcuse gave a talk titled ‘Liberation from the Affluent Society’ at a London conference called The Dialectics of Liberation. The conference brought together a wide range of left and counter-cultural activists, thinkers, artists and poets – Herbert Marcuse, R.D Laing, Paul Sweezy, Stokley Carmichael, Allen Ginsberg, Angela Davis and Lucien Goldman. It is in the spirit of that event, and to mark its 50th anniversary, that the International Herbert Marcuse Society seeks papers for its 2017 biennial conference. The conference, which is being held at York University in Toronto, Canada, Oct. 26-28, 2017, has as its theme: “The Dialectics of Liberation in an Age of Neoliberal Capitalism”.
For this year’s conference, we invite papers and panels that look at Marcuse’s work through multi-dimensional lenses. How is Marcuse’s (and other critical theorist’s) work relevant to today’s struggles against neoliberal capitalism? How can it help build the capacity for new sensibilities, critical pedagogies and new ways of thinking and organizing on the left today? And what are the dialectics of liberation in a context marked by crises, deepening authoritarianism, economic distress, social disintegration, and forms of oppression that mark neoliberal societies today? How have recent movements – Black Lives Matter, Indigenous/Idle No More, ecological, anti-austerity and others – sought to theorize, understand, refuse and go beyond neoliberalism? How do radical critiques today echo and/or build on those that came together at the 1967 Dialectics of Liberation gathering? In what ways are the challenges of liberation different today, against the backdrop of the Trump phenomenon and the rise of a neoliberal, neo-fascist right? And how does Marcuse’s critique intersect with current assessments of neoliberalism inspired by political economy, labour studies, feminism, Indigenous struggles, radical democratic and anti-racist theory, critical pedagogy and current debates within critical theory?
We invite critical theory scholars and students–as well as scholar-activists and independent scholars from other critical traditions such as political economy, feminism, LGBTQIA studies, disability studies, post-colonial studies, Indigenous studies, critical race theory, and labour studies – to engage in a dialogue with Marcuse, in the way that Blackpower, feminist, and ecological participants did at the 1967 Dialectics of Liberation event. We welcome interventions and reflections on how Marcuse and other critical theorists see the ‘dialectics of liberation’. And even though the emphasis this year is on liberation from neoliberalism, we also do not want to neglect the roots that the ‘dialectics of liberation’ have in the rich philosophical and social theory heritage of Marcuse’s work, in his own debates with Hegel, Marx, Freud, Fromm, even Nietzsche and Heidegger, as well as critical theorists such as Adorno and Benjamin. Papers and panels on Marcuse’s relation to these thinkers are welcome as well.
The conference organizers are particularly interested in encouraging undergraduate and graduate student participation. To this end, we encourage faculty colleagues to bring students of all levels to the conference. Undergraduate students are invited to present papers in special concurrent sessions.
The conference is an interdisciplinary, multimedia engagement with the many dimensions of Herbert Marcuse’s work. In addition to the presentation of papers, the conference will also present artistic/cultural work, including an installation/exhibition by documentary film maker Peter Davis, who filmed the 1967 Dialectics of Liberation event. Further details on performances and installations will be announced in the coming months. A website for the conference, with registration and other details, will also be up in the coming weeks.
For more information, and to submit proposals for individual papers and panels (in the form of a 150-word abstract), contact the conference organizers by e-mailing: