HM Australasia 2015: Reading Capital, Class & Gender Today

by · May 12, 2015

FEATURED_spainminers1University of Sydney, 17-18 July 2015

Call for Papers

The year 2015 marks a series of conspicuous anniversaries. Three books in particular celebrate significant milestones this year. Raewyn Connell and Terry Irving’s seminal Class Structure in Australian History was published thirty-five years ago, Louis Althusser and his students published Reading Capital fifty years ago, and Silvia Federici produced Wages Against Housework forty years ago. These works function at once as indices of the diversity of approaches licensed by the Marxist tradition – historical sociology, philosophical inquiry, polemical ardor – while also sharing that singularly Marxist commitment to the ruthless criticism of all that exists (including Marxism itself) in light of the real movement that abolishes the present state of things. It is in that spirit of diversity and critical engagement with the world as it is that we announce the 2015 Historical Materialism Australasia Conference.

The diversity in the works commemorated above is not limited to their methodology. The issues they address remain alive today, as questions of politics or scholarship or both: the interaction of class and race in settler colonial societies; the place of class and labour in historical inquiry; the concept of a transitional period; the philosophical status of Marx’s work and its relationship to other forms of knowledge; the concept of critique itself; the question of Capital’s continued reproduction; the relationship between feminism(s) and Marxism; the role of care labour in a theory of work; the place of the wage in capitalist society. This list does not exhaust the challenges these works undertook to address nor, of course, the specific challenges and opportunities that confront us today. But it is the wager of this conference that the vitality of historical materialism is precisely in this propensity, even bias, towards interdisciplinarity, seen not as a conference buzzword, but as the only adequate response to the society that faces us.

With that in mind, we welcome submissions of 250-word abstracts for papers on the questions above or any others that engage with this broader tradition, critically or otherwise; panel proposals should include short abstracts for each paper coupled with an outline of the panel as a whole. We especially welcome contributions from activists and scholars outside of (or peripheral to) the academy. All submissions should be emailed to hmaustralasia [at] by Friday the 22nd of May.


Keynote Speakers

Raewyn Connell and Terry Irving: Scholars and Radicals: Class Structure in Australian History Revisited

Raewyn Connell is Professor Emerita at the University of Sydney, and one of Australia’s leading social scientists. Her most recent books are Southern Theory (2007), about social thought in the postcolonial world; Confronting Equality (2011), about social science and politics; and Gender: In World Perspective(3rd edn, with Rebecca Pearse, 2015). Her other books include Masculinities, Schools & Social Justice,Ruling Class Ruling Culture, Gender & Power, and Making the Difference. Her work has been translated into eighteen languages. She has taught at universities in several countries in departments of sociology, political science, and education, and is a long-term participant in the labour movement and peace movement. Details can be found at her website

Terry Irving is a radical educationist and historian whose ASIO file begins in 1953. He helped found the Free University in Sydney, and was a prominent New Left figure in the labour history movement. He writes in the radical history tradition about class analysis, youth politics, labour intellectuals and radical democracy. His most recent book was written with Rowan Cahill, Radical Sydney: Places, Portraits and Unruly Episodes (2010), and together they run a radical history blog, Currently Terry is an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Wollongong, where his publications can be accessed through

Knox PedenReading Capital Today: Against “Alienation”

Knox Peden is an Australian Research Council Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University. He is the author of Spinoza Contra Phenomenology: French Rationalism from Cavaillès to Deleuze (2014), and the editor, with Peter Hallward, of Concept and Form (2012), a two-volume monument to the Cahiers pour l’Analyse (1966–69), the most ambitious collective project to emerge from French structuralism.


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