Forum on Contemporary Theory Annual Conference, Mar 13-16

FORUM ON CONTEMPORARY THEORY, BARODA, INDIA

(A Member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes)

In collaboration with

Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), University of Chicago, USA

And

Bharat Mata College, Thrikkakara, Kochi, Kerala

Annual International Conference, March 13-16, 2024

At

Alleppey, Kerala

On

Global Capitalisms

Concept Note

This is a call for papers to participate in a conference in Alleppey, Kerala, co-organized by the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda, on the theme of “Global Capitalisms.” The conference will be held during March 13-16, 2024.

The theorization of capitalism has been fundamental to understanding the relationships between economy, society, and politics, at least since the eighteenth century. We aim to revisit and reinvigorate this theoretical project at a world-historical conjuncture that is marked by multiple crises of capitalism, the emergence of Southern economies such as India’s as major global players, and the challenges these present for contemporary politics.

Any adequate theorization of the contemporary requires an empirically attuned and theoretically sophisticated understanding of the dynamics, forms, and trajectories that global capitalism takes today. There have been a range of approaches adopted from across disciplinary perspectives, ranging from economics to philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, literature, to do so. Many of the most pertinent critiques have emerged out of lineages of scholarship indebted to the works of Karl Marx.

In the twentieth century, these theorizations have increasingly come to be located within the framework of global relations of power and production, including those shaped by colonialism, then in the aftermath of decolonization, and more recently in the neoliberal turn and its attendant globalization. Yet capitalism is not singular, its forms and manifestations have changed across place and time, and the political challenges that come in its wake constantly demand its retheorization. This must take the form of revisiting philosophical understandings of the dynamics of capital, as well as elaborating new empirical manifestations in terms of regional impact, sectoral specificity, mutations in form, and sociological implications.

Specifically, we aim for a collective retheorization of Global Capitalisms at this world-historical conjuncture that is marked at once by:

The multiple crises of capitalism, witnessed in rising inequality, corporate hegemony and the consolidation of monopolies, rising authoritarianisms, impending climate catastrophe, the political effects of neoliberal austerity and deindustrialization, and the bubbles and bursts of speculative enterprises, which demand a longue durée attentiveness to the ways in which forces and relations of production have globalized with differential effects in different parts of the world.

The growth of emergent markets in the global South, which creates new axes of power and hierarchies of difference that reconfigure older colonial, metropolitan-periphery, lines of cleavage; and the challenges presented for politics in view of large-scale structural transformations in the operations of capital, which demands new forms of internationalist solidarity that respond to problems from the local to the planetary scale.

We invite papers and presentations that might address any of the following themes.

Corporatism and racialized monopoly capitalism

  • Practices of global extractive enterprise
  • Financialization and its global manifestations and implications
  • Histories of mercantile culture and empire and their enduring postcolonial residues
  • The reconstitution of class
  • Relations between capitalism and kinship, including in relation to histories of migration and diaspora
  • Relationships between capitalism and affect
  • Old and new forms of international solidarity-making such as the rise and fall of leftist political movements.
  • Any other relevant theme

The conference will include presentations by a number of scholars from the University of Chicago, including Chiara Cordelli, Daragh Grant, Sarah Johnson, Jonathan Levy, Josephine McDonagh, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, and Lisa Wedeen.

3CT (https://ccct.uchicago.edu/) is a space for the critical discussion and reimagination of social, political and cultural process in the world today. “Global Capitalisms” has emerged as a central topic of inquiry for 3CT and will be one of its focal interests over the coming two-year period. The Forum on Contemporary Theory (https://fctworld.org/) has been a key venue for critical theory conversations in India for over three decades, including through annual conferences that have brought together international scholars with scholars and students in India.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Conference Convener and Keynote Speaker

The Keynote Address will be delivered by Prof Kaushik Sunder Rajan.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan is Professor of Anthropology, Co-Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, and Associate Faculty Director of the Pozen Center for Human Rights, University of Chicago. His work lies at the intersection of Medical Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies (STS), with commitments to social theories of capitalism and postcolonial studies. His first two books focused on the global political economy of the life sciences and biomedicine, with an empirical focus on the United States and India. Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life (Duke, 2006), is a multi-sited ethnography of genomics and post-genomic drug development marketplaces in the United States and India. Pharmocracy: Knowledge, Value and Politics in Global Biomedicine (Duke, 2017) elucidates the political economy of global pharmaceuticals as seen from contemporary India, provoking questions about how value, politics and knowledge come to be related to one another in contemporary global pharmaceutical economies in ways that put both health and democracy at stake. Alongside, he has an abiding commitment to conceptualizing and developing stakes and modalities for multi-sited ethnographic research and teaching. His most recent book, Multisituated: Ethnography as Diasporic Praxis, was published by Duke University Press in 2021. It considers the promises and potentials of multi-sited ethnography in the light of current debates around the decolonization of Anthropology and of the university.

Sunder Rajan’s current research project, provisionally titled Just Health?: Constitutionalism and Postapartheid Dis-ease, concerns the ways in which a politics of health in South Africa plays out through the law, consequent to the guarantee of a fundamental right to health in the South African Constitution. He is also involved in a performance-based collaborative endeavour with writer Stacy Hardy (Polokwane, South Africa), and composer Neo Muyanga (Cape Town, South Africa), Pulmonographies, which attends to imperialism and anti-imperialist resistance as speaking to a “politics of breath.” It focuses both on modes of the oppression and exploitation of breath and to practices of collectivization of suppressed and severed breath.

Abstracts of approximately 300 words may be sent to gita.viswanath@gmail.com with a copy each to ksunderr@gmail.com and thomaspathil@gmail.com

Venue: Lake Palace – a luxury 5-star backwater resort, Alleppey, Kerala

Please note the following dates:

Last date for registration: October 15, 2023

Last date for abstract submission: November 15, 2023

Registration Fee: (Non-refundable)

Indians:

16,000/- INR for double occupancy room

30, 000/- INR for single occupancy room

For details of bank transfer, please contact Prof P C Kar/Gita Viswanath/Bijal Thakkar

prafullakar@gmail.com

gita.viswanath@gmail.com

bijalthakkar1307@gmail.com

Foreigners:

500/- USD for single occupancy room

250/- USD for SAARC country members for single occupancy room

P C Kar, Convener, FCT

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Conference Convener

P J Thomas, Associate Professor (Retd.) St. Berchmans College, Changanaserry, Local Convener