York U hosts ‘The Dialectics of Liberation in an Era of Neoliberalism’ conference

A conference at York University Oct. 26 to 28 will recognize the 50th anniversary of an historic event called The Dialectics of Liberation, which brought together counter-cultural activists, thinkers, artists and poets including Herbert Marcuse, R.D. Laing, Paul Sweezy, Stokley Carmichael, Allen Ginsberg, Angela Davis and Lucien Goldman.

This year, the International Herbert Marcuse Society will hold its 2017 biennial conference at York, with the theme “The Dialectics of Liberation in an Era of Neoliberalism”.

The conference will include internationally recognized Marcuse scholars such as Douglas Kellner and Andrew Feenberg, and will bring together scholars, graduate and undergraduate students from 10 countries and three continents to look at how Marcuse’s work can help us understand social change, social and protest movements, and neoliberalism today.

The conference takes up key themes that Marcuse discussed in the 1960s and 1970s – including the rise and social psychology of authoritarianism in some political leaders and their followers – and reflects on their historical and social significance today.

Keynote discussions and panels will discuss questions such as: What are the dialectics of liberation in a context marked by economic and political crises and the re-emergence of authoritarianism globally? How have recent social movements – Black Lives Matter, Indigenous/Idle No More, ecological, anti-austerity and others – sought to theorize, understand and go beyond neoliberalism and ‘one-dimensional society’? How does Marcuse’s work echo and/or build on the 1967 Dialectics of Liberation gathering?  And how does Marcuse’s work 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?

Terry Maley
Terry Maley

Professor Terry Maley of York’s Department of Politics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), has organized the conference along with students from the graduate programs in the departments of Politics and Social and Political Thought.

“In light of recent developments, culturally, politically and in the global economy, Marcuse’s work could not be more timely,” said Maley. “It retains its relevance today.”

As well, Maley has just published an edited book on Marcuse that will be discussed at the conference – One-Dimensional Man 50 Years On: The Struggle Continues (Fernwood Publishing, 2017). The cover of Maley’s book echoes the cover of Marcuse’s famous 1964 book, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Beacon Press, 1964).

The critical social sciences are a key strength of York’s Liberal and Professional Arts (LA&PS) faculty, said Maley, and a pillar of its international reputation. The conference will be among the largest events of its kind in LAPS in the 2017-18 academic year, and carries on a long-standing York tradition that goes back to the 1960s, he said.

For more details and to see the lineup of panelists and speakers, or to purchase tickets, visit the Eventbrite page.