CFP: Crisis & Critique of the State

Submission deadline: August 25, 2013

Conference date(s):
October 25, 2013 - October 26, 2013

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Conference Venue:

Goldsmiths College, University of London
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


The ongoing crisis poses the question of state and democracy anew. While many commentators mourn the vanishing sovereignty of the state in the face of financial markets and globalisation, and declare our times to be post-democratic, their nostalgic image of the glorious days of democracy and sovereignty as bulwarks against capitalism is profoundly problematic. We consider it therefore not only necessary to discuss the question of the state and democracy again, but with Negri we could even say that “there must be a structural theory of the State-capital-society relationship and a political strategy adequate to the structural character of these interrelations.”

Revisit concepts and discussions...
The goal of the conference is to debate critical materialist notions of the state, which do not fall back into vulgar conceptions that see the state simply as the tool of the ruling class, but also refuse the common liberal position in which the state becomes the mere mediator of conflicting interests. We consider Poulantzas’s notion of the state as “the specific material condensation of a relationship of forces among classes and class fractions” to be a fruitful starting point. From Poulantzas’s perspective, which critically incorporates Althusser’s earlier attempt to complexify a materialist concept of the state, the state is the product of existing power relations; however, it can gain a relative autonomy from those structures and in turn transform them. That is also the backdrop against which democracy within capitalist societies can be discussed productively. But the question of democracy goes beyond the analysis of the existing: philosophical, social and empirical notions of democracy, sovereignty and the political are key to any present discussion of emancipatory politics. address questions of the present.
We want to tie in with existing materialist conceptions and critiques of the state and think through their relevance to the present. What does it mean for the state to be the “ideal collective capitalist” (Engels) in times of the economic crisis? Is there a notion of the state that we should defend and what would it look like? What is a feminist critique of the state in the face of the crisis (of reproduction)? These are only a few of the many questions we hope to discuss from various disciplinary, theoretical as well as empirical, perspectives.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • (materialist) state theories
  • state-form, sovereignty and the law
  • the crisis and critique of democracy, representation and popular sovereignty
  • critiques of the nation state, citizenship and immigration policies
  • the state and race
  • feminist critiques of the state
  • governmentality / management and resistance in the economic crisis
  • the politics of austerity and their cultural and economic implications
  • the role of the state and political economy
  • (post-)politics and the political
  • the relationship between democracy, populism and fascism
  • revolution and the state
  • the relation of philosophy and politics vis-à-vis the state
  • violence, repression and the state: “policing the crisis”
  • state & the commons

The call is primarily addressed to postgraduate students, young researchers, activists, etc. We plan to have panels with academics from Goldsmiths and other universities responding to the presentations.

Please send abstracts of not more than 500 words to by Monday, 29th of July 2013. We also invite proposals for possible panels.

Supporting material

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