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December 6, 2023

Call for Papers: 2024 Lauren Berlant 3CT Graduate Student Conference

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Capitalism and Its Outside:
Profit, Expansion, and the Necessary Excess


Lauren Berlant 3CT Graduate Student Conference
May 10–11, 2024
Keynote speaker: Jodi Dean

Deadline for paper submissions: Thursday, February 15, 2024


Capitalism, endowed with remarkable elasticity and propagandistic power, is a mode of production whose drive aims to devour the planet, subsuming all other forms of life under its logic. It tolerates no antagonistic other alongside itself. However, it is also the first economic form that is unable to stand alone, without a non-capitalist outside as its necessary lifeline: surplus populations, speculative non-market spheres, unpaid labor, the precariat, economies of waste, carceral extraction, money markets, and technoeconomic platforms are only a few illustrative realms.

As Rosa Luxemburg argued more than a century ago, the uneven relation between capitalist and non-capitalist formations is not merely a prerequisite for capital’s genesis but an essential condition for its ongoing accumulation and maturation. Capital draws life from the erosion of its very sine qua non. As it rides varying vectors and velocities, one fraction of capital might undermine the endurance of another, if not interrupt its own conditions of possibility altogether (Gidwani, 2008; Wark, 2019). Capitalism, thus, finds itself in chronic exertion against entropy.

From the viewpoint of such contradictions and excesses, as matters of inner determination (Mészáros, 2012; Saito, 2022) and systematic necessity, how has capitalism’s outside been reconfigured, and what has it come to extrude in the world today? How does it bear upon twenty-first-century capitalist logic, social relations of production, and attendant ideological workings? Given especially shifts in the labor market, ecological rifts on massive scale, phenomena like “cloud capital” (Varoufakis, 2023) and “bullshit jobs” (Graeber, 2018), how can the various manifestations and pressures of capital’s necessary excesses be theorized? Has capitalism perfected its modus operandi, managing so well its own fallout, that it has begun to morph beyond itself? Are we amid fundamental shifts in capitalist regimes of value and their profit-driven logic? Or is this yet another stage of an ever-aging capitalism?

We invite contributions from graduate students from a wide range of disciplines including, but not limited to, history, anthropology, political theory, philosophy, sociology, and economics. Travel support will be available for a limited number of presenters without access to institutional funding.

The deadline for submissions has now passed.

We are especially interested in papers related to the following topics:

  • Empire, colonialism, settler-colonialism
  • War and militarism
  • Agrarian economies, ecological rifts
  • Questions of scarcity and affluence
  • Conceptions and economies of waste
  • Energy extraction and exploration
  • Environmental toxicity and atmospheric emissions
  • Financial capital and money markets
  • The role of the state, central banks, and financial institutions
  • Information economies, algorithms, and digital platforms
  • Class struggle and social differentiation (gender, race, caste, etc.)
  • Surplus populations, the industrial reserve army of labor
  • Demography and family planning
  • Political economy of technoscience and experimentality
  • Capitalist metamorphoses and neo-feudal formations
  • Regimes of debt, loan, money printing, and aid industries
  • Theories, traditions, and praxes of commoning and degrowth

Questions may be directed to the student organizers, Arwa Awan and Hadeel Badarni.