Archive for September, 2016

21
Sep
16

FIFTEENTH ESSEX CONFERENCE ON LABOUR HISTORY

FIFTEENTH ESSEX CONFERENCE ON LABOUR HISTORY

The Fifteenth Essex Conference on Labour History, jointly sponsored and organised by Labour Heritage and the Essex Labour Campaign Forum will take place at The Labour Hall, Collingwood Road, Witham, CM8 2EE, (adjacent to Witham railway station), from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, 29th October, 2016.

The topics on the agenda include the historical role of Aneurin Bevan, relations with Ireland, the Poplar rates dispute and the life of a Labour activist in Essex.

The Conference is completely open and friends, relatives and acquaintances are welcome, whatever their political allegiances.  Questions and other contributions will be invited from the floor, lunch will be provided by the Essex Labour Campaign Forum and the cost is included in the registration fee.

The registration fee is £8 per person (cheques payable to the Essex County Labour Party).  Those not previously registered can pay at the door, provided there are places, but pre-booking is advisable – particularly for catering purposes.

CHARLES COCHRANE, Chair – Essex Labour Campaign Forum

STAN NEWENS, Chair – Labour Heritage. For details contact Stan on this e-mail address

Registration fee: £8.00 per person

PROGRAMME

10.30 – 11.00 a.m.    Conference assembles (tea and coffee will be provided)
11.00 – 11.10 a.m.    Chair’s opening remarks – Charles Cochrane, Chair, Essex Labour Campaign Forum
11.10 – 12.05 p.m.    The Left in the mid-20th Century and the Role of Aneurin Bevan
Francis Beckett (Labour historian and author)
12.05 – 1.00 p.m.    Ireland – the 1916 Rising and Social Progress
Ivan Gibbons (former Director of Irish Studies at St. Mary’s University Twickenham, and Director of the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith)
1.00 – 2.00 p.m.    Lunch, arranged by the Essex Labour Campaign Forum.
2.00 – 2.45 p.m.    George Lansbury and the 1921 Poplar Rates Dispute
Chris Sumner (George Lansbury Memorial Trust)
2.45 – 3.30 p.m.    A Life in the Labour Movement
Stan Newens (former MP, MEP and Labour historian)
3.30 – 3.55 p.m.    Discussion and suggestions
3.55 – 4.00 p.m.    Conclusion of the Conference

21
Sep
16

Seminar: “Loyalties: An Interdisciplinary Seminar on British Communism”

Loyalties: An Interdisciplinary Seminar on British Communism.

 

The question of dual or contested loyalties has been a constant theme in the history of British communism. Much of existing research has centred on the political allegiances of communists who have occupied positions of influence in the military, or have been involved in espionage. Research in this field has been enriched by the availability of MI5 files, Soviet archives and personal memoir.  However, the question of the loyalties of British communists has a much wider scope and significance, encompassing the dilemmas of intellectuals, changing personal and political identities and the balance between trade union activism and political priorities. In the background have often been tensions between the freedom of the artist and writer and their political commitments, the internationalist and anti-fascist allegiances in the context of war and pacifism, and the effects of the Cold War on work and family life.

Given the breadth of the loyalties question, this one day seminar, funded by The Open University’s Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance, was conceived with the idea of pushing out the boundaries of research to bring together historians, political scientists, intelligence experts and those working on biographical studies and life-writing. The seminar is intended to be a starting-point for further research and will focus initially on three main areas:

War, intelligence and espionage

British communists and Spain in the 1930s

Writers, intellectuals, artists.

The emphasis will be on short 10-15 minute contributions to maximise the time available. In addition to these three themes the two plenaries at the beginning and end of the day are intended to discuss further research opportunities.

Date: Friday 18 November. 9.30-16.00

Venue, Kellogg College, 62 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN

For further details and to register please contact Dr Geoff Andrews:  geoff.andrews@open.ac.uk

 

14
Sep
16

Call for Papers – Wars of Position: Marxism and Civil Society

Call for Papers

Wars of Position: Marxism and Civil Society

International Conference, Manchester, UK, 8-10 June 2017

Key-note speakers

Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York.  Author of books including Crowds and Party (2016), The Communist Horizon (2011), Democracy and other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009)

Stathis Kouvelakis, Reader in Political Theory, King’s College, London and former member of Syriza’s Central Committee.  Author of Philosophy and Revolution: From Kant to Marx (2003)

Kevin Morgan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History, University of Manchester.  Author of books including Bolshevism, Syndicalism and the General Strike: The Lost Internationalist World of A.A. Purcell (2013), Labour Legends and Russian Gold (2006), The Webbs and Soviet Communism (2006).

 

‘In Russia’, wrote Antonio Gramsci, ‘the State was everything’ and ‘civil society primordial’; in the highly-developed West, civil society formed ‘permanent fortifications’ which the revolutionary party would have to occupy and transform in order to take and hold power.

No Marxist parties in the West made a revolution.  Historical analysis of their failure has been abundant, but insufficiently attentive to parties’ approaches to civil society in Gramsci’s sense (i.e. social practices and institutions outside the government, judiciary and repressive state apparatus).  This international and interdisciplinary conference is at once historically grounded and attuned to contemporary debates on the Left.  It brings together: analysis of the theory and practice of twentieth-century Marxist parties in relation to civil society; analysis of contemporary Left formations’ approaches to civil society; analysis of the ‘idea’ of communism today and the relevance or obsolescence of ‘the party’ as an organizational form in the twenty-first century.

Proposals are invited for twenty-minute papers and panels of three papers.  Abstracts (250 words) should be emailed to warsofposition2017@manchester.ac.uk by 1/12/16.  Conference interpreters may be available for delegates who wish to present in languages other than English (please e-mail the organisers).  The conference will take place in Manchester’s People’s History Museum, an institution committed to archiving and chronicling the history of radical politics; some panels will discuss the challenges faced by such institutions today.  Papers for the conference might address, but are not restricted to:

  • History, civil society and the ‘idea of Communism’ debate (Badiou, Žižek, Dean et al)
  • Civil society and political strategy in recent / contemporary Left formations (e.g. Podemos, Syriza, Five Star Movement, Die Linke, Parti de gauche)
  • Theoretical debates in the Marxist tradition on ‘civil society’ (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Gramsci, Lukács, Althusser, Marcuse, Poulantzas et al)
  • The struggle for ‘proletarian culture’ in the 1920s and after
  • Communism, the nation and the Popular Fronts in the 1930s and 1940s
  • New Lefts and communism
  • ‘Anti-revisionism’ and cultural revolution
  • Eurocommunism and civil society
  • ‘Post-Marxism’
  • Marxism, gender and the family
  • Marxist parties and intellectuals/ education / science / religion / writing history/ the media / the family
  • Marxism and the arts / the avant-garde / popular culture
  • Marxist parties and their cultural institutions, publishing houses, publications and counter-hegemonic events

 

The conference is part of the AHRC-funded project, Wars of Position: Communism and Civil Society led by Dr Ben Harker at the University of Manchester:

http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/english/research/projects/wars-of-position/

It is run in collaboration with the People’s History Museum and the journal Twentieth Century Communism.  The organisers intend to publish an edited collection based around the conference proceedings.




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