Crisis in the Cultures of Capitalism Conference


About the Conference

Over the course of the year, the Crisis in the Cultures of Capitalism Research Cluster has brought together scholars from UCSC and beyond for an interdisciplinary inquiry into the history and future of the capitalist world-system. A few focal points have arisen: the history of separation from the means of subsistence, and the emergence of market dependence and waged labor; the interpretation of the history of economic thought, and its relationship to capitalist development; the political problem of work, as a process generative of capitalist subjectivities, and a horizon of post-capitalist imaginaries; the constitution of family forms, and practices of gendering that reproduce capitalist social relations.

The eponymous conference of the cluster, April 18-19, will provide a framework for collective discussion of the theoretical questions that have been raised over the course of the cluster\’s events. It will also be a space for generating the research questions that the cluster will pursue as it continues its activities.

Fundamental Questions of the Conference

The economic development of China. How does the development of capitalism in China challenge our understanding of economic history? What is China\’s relation to the global economic crisis? How will Chinese development affect the future of capitalism?

The role of waged labor in capitalist social relations. How can waged labor be understood in relation to other forms of labor that characterize the history of the capitalist world market, such as slavery? How has wage labor been transformed by technological change and the global circuits of commodity exchange? How is the theoretical category of waged labor challenged by unemployment?

The dynamic of race in the composition of the working class. How has the legacy of racial slavery formed the ensuing history of the labor market? What are the implications of the the contemporary reality of migration? What is the relationship between struggles by indigenous populations and the territorial expansion of capital?

The constitution of the world market by nation-states. How can the relationship between colonialism and the rise of capitalism be understood? How can the categories of capital be brought to bear on the existence of competing and warring nation-states? What are the implications of uneven development in our understanding of the historical process?

The organizational forms of anti-capitalist social movements. What is the relationship of social movements today to the history of the workers’ movement? How do the forms of life characteristic of the contemporary labor process, as well as those of unemployment, establish parameters for the ways movements organize themselves?
Electronics factory in Shenzhen photo by Steve Jurvetson

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