Economic fallout and social activism top agenda at Marxism conference

The effects of the global economic crisis on poor and working class people around the world will be the focus of the 2010 Historical Materialism conference at York starting today and drawing hundreds of scholars to hear some 250 papers.

Speakers will come from Canada, the United States, Mexico, India, South Korea, Britain, Australia and Turkey to lecture at the annual Historical Materialism conference, running until Sunday, May 16, at the Accolade West Building, Keele campus. The conference is associated with the leading English-language journal of critical Marxist research of the same name.

Some of the highlights of the conference include several plenary sessions. Today, from 5 to 7pm, Professor Emerita Johanna Brenner of Portland State University, McGill University Professor Aziz Choudry and Professor David McNally of York’s Department of Political Science, organizer of the conference, will discuss “Global Crisis, Working Class Households and Migrant Labour”.

Tomorrow, Professor Terry Eagleton, chair of the Department of English & Creative Writing at Lancaster University and a literary critic and novelist, will deliver the evening’s plenary, from 5:30 to 7pm, posing the question, “Is Marxism a Theodicy?” Eagleton has recently published a book on religion, arguing that social critics ought not to belittle people’s religious beliefs but, instead, take them seriously as expressing fundamental concerns about the values that inform their lives. In this lecture, he will discuss whether Marxism too depends upon something akin to religious values.

International studies Professor Vijay Prashad of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, columnist and author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New Press, 2007), and Professor Kevin Anderson of the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of Marx at the Margins (University of Chicago Press, 2010), will look at “Marx and the Global South” Saturday, May 15, from 5:30 to 7pm.

“Capitalism, Race and Colonialism” will be the topic discussed by Cherokee intellectual and anti-violence activist Andrea Smith, Professor David Roediger of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and history and American studies Professor Elizabeth Esch of Barnard College on Sunday, May 16, from 2:15 to 3:30pm.

For more information, including a full list of speakers and topics, visit the Historical Materialism 2010 Web site.