Catastrophe Now: The Wreckage of Utopia

 Keynote Speakers: Susan Buck-Morss and Christian Parenti
 March 25-27 at University of Florida

 "In the wake of the failed utopia of industrial modernity, where the promises of mass sovereignty, mass production, and mass culture have led not to abundance and more freedoms, but instead to ecological devastation, catastrophes of war, exploitation, dictatorship, and technological destruction and to a panoply of phantasmagoric effects that aestheticize the violence of modernity and anaesthetize its victims, how do we re-conceive collective political action and a present utopia?" (Susan Buck-Morss,  Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West)

 This conference seeks papers that address how pedagogy, activism, aesthetics, and theory help constitute positions against the hegemony of Global Capital. To be precise, how do we disrupt the seemingly undisruptable: a Capitalist system that conjures up  a communal unity that eventually obscures the social tensions of class conflict?  How do we re-constitute past modes of (modernist) discourse into oppositional modes of engagement against the State? By dissolving the boundaries of disparate modes of  discourse  e.g., Islamism, aesthetics, Marxism,  can we produce new forms of engagement against Global Capital? How do we turn the dreamworld of consumerism into a state of desertion and engagement? How can we imagine a progressive globalization?  How do we construct a progressive global left?

 Susan Buck-Morss, a professor of political philosophy and social theory at Cornell University, is the author of Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West, The  Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, and The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodore Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt Institute. Buck-Morss has written a number of innovative essays on aesthetics, politics, and the  work of art, including: "Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin's Artwork Essay Reconsidered" and "The City as Dreamworld and Catastrophe."

 Christian Parenti is the author of Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis, Taking Liberties: Prisons, Policing, and Surveillance in an Age of Crisis, and The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror. He is a Soros Senior Justice Fellow of the Open Society Institute and a Visiting Fellow at the CUNY Graduate School's Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. He teaches at the New College of California in San Francisco and works as a radio journalist in Central  America, New York and California. Parenti is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including: Salon,The Nation,San Diego Union Tribune, Washington Post, The Progressive, In These Times, Christian Science Monitor, and The New York News Day.

                       Prospective papers may address (but are not limited to) the following:
                       *Anti-humanism/post-humanism in Empire
                       *Reification of history.
                       *Narrative mappings of the political.
                       *What counts as labor?
                       *Re-thinking subjectivities through singularity.
                       *Society of control and new forms of policing/discipline.
                       *The aesthetics of security.
                       *Re-writing the frontiers of the nation-state.
                       *Exploiting security: crime and the warehousing of the poor
                       *Prosthetics, Clones, Cyborgs: The body and technological ontologies.
                       *Strategies of containing revolutionary practices.
                       *Gender and the place of work.
                       *Global capital and imagining the apocalypse.
                       *Pedagogies and reorganizing relations of space.
                       *Literature and collectivity.
                       *Insurgent spatial practices: sites for alternative production.
                       *Professionalization and the corporate university.
                       *Media and formulations of collectivity.
                       *Constructions of a revolutionary identity.
                       *"National Dreams" of Prosperity and Poverty
                       *Politics of zoning.
                       *US policy, war, and terrorism.

                       Non-traditional or performative panels will also be considered.
                       One-page abstracts, questions, and comments should be submitted to the Marxist Reading Group at

                       Abstracts due: February 20 (deadline extended).

                       For more information about our group, conferences, and keynote speakers go to