JUNE 25-29, 2016



In chapters 26 through 32 of Capital vol. 1, Marx challenges capital’s idyllic origin story by reminding readers of the violent acts of state-sanctioned dispossession inherent to capitalism’s genesis. “In actual history,” writes Marx, it was not the sudden recognition of mutual comparative advantage but rather “conquest, enslavement, robbery [and] murder” that cleared the way for the predominance of the capital-labor relation. Yet if the history of the rise and expansion of capitalism is undeniably a story of naked violence, dispossession, and expulsion, it is also a story of ever-widening — but differential — inclusion. The working class is not excluded, but exploited. In Capital’s chapter 25, Marx was able to think the categories of exclusion and exploitation together under the concept of the relative surplus population, the mass of the excluded who nonetheless “belong to capital just as absolutely as if it had been battery-raised at capital’s own expense.” It is more difficult to maintain this thought today. If nothing else, the relative stabilization of employment since Marx’s time directly implies the relative stabilization of unemployment as well, decisively changing the political dimension of exclusion, which no longer appears continuous with the dynamic of differential inclusion. While contemporary capital strives to subsume all remaining elements of social and natural life within its extended reach, its hierarchical ontology and willingness to abandon entire populations that fail to meet the standard of profitability means that, for many, inclusion within neoliberal capitalism becomes in reality a brutal means of economic exclusion and destitution. For the 2016 MLG Institute on Culture and Society, we invite submissions concerned with the relationship between exclusion and exploitation, and with political forms adequate to contemporary manifestations of this relation. Contemporary forms of indigenous struggle; new anti-imperialisms; Black Lives Matter; proposals for reparations for slavery and other historical injustices; schemes to provide a universal subsistence wage or wages for unpaid domestic labor: all these and many more contemporary phenomena are attempts to deal consequentially with this relationship.

In keeping with the success of recent practice, this year’s Institute on Culture and Society will be organized around a series of intensive reading groups. We continue to invite proposals for traditional paper/panel presentations (15 mins.), but strongly encourage proposals for roundtable presentations of 4-5 position papers (5-8 mins.), as well as proposals for reading sessions, each of approximately two hours, discussing particular works relevant to the question of the relationship between exploitation and exclusion in any register: from the philosophical (e.g. the problem of immanence and the standpoint of totality) to the historical (e.g. capitalism and the dynamic of national liberation) to the political (e.g. both indigenous and nativist struggles over land use) to the economic (e.g. the racial distribution of economic exclusion). Given the volume of reading expected of participants, reading proposals should be as focused as possible.

As always we are interested in proposals that address this year's theme, but will also consider proposals on any topic that bears substantially on issues relevant to Marxist theory and practice, from Heraclitus and the dialectic to race and capital accumulation. As the due date for paper proposals has now passed, please send us an e-mail if you intend to participate without presenting to Registration is available here and on site at the conference. This event will take place at Concordia University at the Sir George Williams Campus, (Hall Building) 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3G 1M8.





*Please contact for any questions, comments or changes to be made to the reading list.


1. Rosa Luxemburg Reads the Current Crisis: Kanishka Chowdhury. (Contact Kanishka Chowdhury: Michael Schwartz, "The Mass Strike in the Age of Neoliberal Globalization"The Accumulation of Capital, Chapters 27-32.The Accumulation of Capital: An Anti Critique, Chapter 6. The Mass Strike, Sections 2, 4, and 7. All of these readings are available @

2. Dispossession, Exclusion, Exploitation: Selections from the Grundrisse: Bret Benjamin, Steve Delmagori, Jackie Hayes, Sun Ju Kim, Samantha Rider, Paul Stasi. (Contact Bret Benjamin: (Prioritized Reading: pages 398 to 423.)  Karl Marx, the Grundrisse.  Pages 321-26, 398-423, 604-10, 690-712, 885-7. For those who may want to read in their books at home, we're working from the Penguin Classics Edition (1973). 

3. The Continuing Debate over India’s 'Dominance Without Hegemony': Meghan Gorman-DaRif and Anne Stewart. (Contact Meghan Gorman-DaRif: (Prioritized Readings: Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 27.1 (2014): 184-198 and Chibber, Vivek “Making sense of postcolonial theory: a response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 27.2 (2014) 617-624.) Texts: Chibber, Vivek.  Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital.  Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2013. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty “Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 27.1 (2014): 184-198. Chibber,Vivek “Making sense of postcolonial theory: a response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 27.2 (2014) 617-624. WeAreManyMedia:"Debate: Marxism & the Legacy of Subaltern Studies – Historical Materialism NY 2013."  Online video clip.  YouTube, 6 May, 2013.

 4.    Labour in the Era of Fictitious Capital: Jette Gindner, Neil Larsen, Matthias Nilges. (Contact Jette Gindner: Required Texts: Norbert Trenkle, "Labour in the Era of Fictitious Capital" (2015) Recommended Texts3-part interview on The Great Devaluation (2012):  (Potentially to be added later: brand new texts directly from Lohoff (if translated).

 5. The Many Faces of Marx’s Proletariat: Anna Björk Einarsdóttir, Magnús Þór Snæbjörnsson and Pat Cabell. (Contact Anna Björk Einarsdóttir: Primary Texts: Click here to download the PDF with passages/short excerpts from the following works: Articles by Karl Marx in Rheinische Zeitung, Letters to Arnold Ruge, Critique of Hegel's Doctrine of the StateA Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of RightIntroduction., Economic and Philosophical ManuscriptsOn the Jewish Question, and The German Ideology. Secondary TextsClick here to download the PDF of secondary texts. Norbert Trenkle, "Struggle Without Classes: Why There Is No Resurgence of the Proletariat in the Currently Unfolding Capitalist Crisis," Marxism and the Critique of Value (Chicago: M-C-M’, 2014). Neil Larsen, "Lukács Sans Proletariat, or Can History and Class Consciousness Be Rehistoricized?" Georg Lukács: The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence: Aesthetics, Politics, Literature (London: Continuum, 2011). Endnotes, “A History of Separation” and “An Identical Abject-Subject?”.

6.  Nature and Appropriation: Capitalism as World Ecology: Steve Gotzler, Natalie Suzelis (Contact Steve Gotzler: (Prioritized Reading: “Introduction – The Double Internality: History as if Nature Matters” – p.1-30.) Texts: Jason Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015). Whole book, with particular emphasis on sections I, II, and IV, titled: “From Dualism to Dialectics: Capitalism as World Ecology,” “Historical Capitalism, Historical Nature,” and “The Rise and Demise of Cheap Nature” respectively. Full instructions here. Required Reading “Introduction – The Double Internality: History as if Nature Matters” – p.1-30“The Tendency of the Ecological Surplus to Fall” – p.91-109 . Strongly Recommended Sections : “Value in the Web of Life” – p.51-74“Conclusion: The End of Cheap Nature?” – p.291-305 Optional Sections: “Cheap Labor? Time, Capital, and the Reproduction of Human Nature” – p.221-240, “The Long Green Revolution” – p.241-290

7.  Reinscribing Responsibility: Capitalocene as Alternative to the Anthropocene?: Corbin Hiday, Justin Raden. (Contact: (Prioritized Readings: Introduction, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism by Jason W. Moore (pp. 1-11) and Chapter 4, "Accumulating Extinction: Planetary Catastrophism in the Necrocene" by Justin McBrien (pp. 116-137). Texts: Introduction, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism by Jason W. Moore (pp. 1-11). Chapter 4, "Accumulating Extinction: Planetary Catastrophism in the Necrocene" by Justin McBrien (pp. 116-137)Chapter 6, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, and the Problem of Culture" by Daniel Hartley (pp. 154-165).

8. The Problem of Precarity: Melissa Macero, Heidi Smith. (Contact Melissa Macero: (Prioritized reading: the first chapter of Guy Standing's The Precariat, "Chapter 1: The Precariat." (22 pdf pages) longPrimary Texts: Kevin Doogan, New Capitalism? The Transformation of Work, Chapter 1: “From Post-Industrial Society to New Capitalism: The Evolution of a Narrative of Social Change” (pp. 16-42). Guy Standing, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Chapter 1: “The Precariat,” and Chapter 2: “Why the Precariat Is Growing,” (especially pp. 69-83). Secondary Texts: Michael Denning, “Wageless Life” New Left Review (~19 pages). Daniel Zamora, “When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population Under Neoliberalism (~29 pages). Standing, Chapter 3: “Who Enters the Precariat?” (pp. 1-59).

 9.   Race, Class, Coates and the Left: Joe Ramsey, Gregory Meyerson. (Contact Joe Ramsey: We would request that in addition to becoming familiar with Coates' blockbuster, Between the World and Me, reading group participants read the critical response to Coates' book by Cedric Johnson, published at Jacobin Magazine, and Coates' reply to Johnson.  Also, we would encourage reading group participants to also examine the following two essays: Loic Wacquant: "Class, Race, and Hyper-Incarceration in Revanchist America" and Chris Chen's essay on the dialectic of racialization and capitalist exploitation.


10.  Glen Coulthard, Colonial Capitalism, and the Politics of Recognition: Justin Paulson: (Contact Jusin Paulson: JustinPaulson@cunet.carleton.caRequired Texts: Glen Sean Coulthard, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Minnesota, 2014). Marx, Capital, vol. I, part VIII (chapters 26-32). Optional Texts: Kevin Anderson, Marx at the Margins (Chicago, 2010), chapter 6: "Late writings on non-western and pre-capitalist societies", pp. 196-236 (especially 196-208).

 11.  The Histories and Horizons of Affirmation: Joseph Ren, Brendan Higgins. (Contact Joseph Ren: (Prioritized Readings: Parts 1 and 2 and the Afterword from "A History of Separation" in Endnotes 4.) Texts:  A History of Separation (Intro)Part One,  Part Two, Part ThreePart FourPart Five, AfterwordSecondary Reading: Jodi Dean, Crowds and Party (Introduction)


12.  Primitive Accumulation and Ecosocialism: Robert Collins, Kathryn J. Prottengeier (Contact Kathryn J. Prottengeier: (Prioritized readings: 19 pages from Michael Löwy's Ecosocialism, and 25 pages from John Bellamy Foster's Marx's Ecology.) Texts:  Michael LöwyEcosocialism: A Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe. John Bellamy Foster, Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature

13. Race, Class and Capitalism Today: Jaafar Aksikas, Don Hedrick, Barbara Foley and Annika Marie (Contact: jaksikas@colum.eduTexts: Adolph Reed, Jr., “Unraveling the Relation of Race and Class in American Politics”. Ellen Meiksins Wood, “Class Race and Capitalism”. Maurice Zeitlin, On the ‘Confluence of Race and Class’ in America. Steven Gregory, “The ‘Paradoxes’ of Misplaced Concreteness: Thinking Through the State”. Adolph Reed, Jr., “Rejoiner”. All texts available here.