Today at the Historical Materialism Australasia 2012 conference:

I met the prayer group in the lift – a group of hairy young creatures of God and a smiling Imam. Much joking was had.



Capital Against Capitalism

a conference of new Marxist research

Saturday 25 June 2011

Central Sydney

It seems significant, and hardly coincidental, that the impasse that politics fell into after the 1960s and 1970s coincided with the eclipse of Marx and the research project of historical materialism. Social democracy, various left-wing melancholies and/ or the embrace of dead political forms has stood-in for these absent names. Returning to Marx, to Capital and to the various traditions tied-up with these names may present a way to cut across this three-fold deadlock.

We invite papers responding to contemporary politics from a range of historical materialist perspectives. We want to bring together the theoretical discussions and debates occurring in Capital reading groups, PhD study circles, and Marxist political organisations and networks. Our conjuncture – its manifold crisis – urges new analyses, new strategic orientations and the engagement of activists and academics alike on these questions.
Conference structure
The conference will involve two plenaries and four workshops. There will be space for 12 workshop papers about, or connected to, the conference theme. We are happy to receive proposals for themed workshops of three papers, with the caveat that we may need to alter suggested panels or reject individual papers to ensure overall timetabling.

In our opening plenary, Rick Kuhn will overview the argument of his new book, with Tom Bramble, Labor’s conflict: big business, workers and the politics of class (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Geoff Robinson and Tad Tietze will act as respondents. The final session will be a keynote address from Nicole Pepperell on the key ideas of her PhD thesis and forthcoming book on Marx’s Capital (to be published by Brill, as part of the Historical Materialism Book Series, later this year).

In all sessions there will be time for contributions from conference participants. To maximise discussion at the conference, each first plenary and workshop speaker will have 15 minutes to overview their paper.

Proposals for papers
Proposals for papers should be submitted by 15 March 2011 to Elizabeth Humphrys (lizhumphrys [at] and Jonathon Collerson (jonathoncollerson [at] Authors should also indicate whether they would be submitting a written paper for refereeing. Papers should be 1500, and no longer than 1800 words. Refereed conference papers will be published, potentially also as a special issue of an academic journal. We reserve the right to reject papers if we have too many to fill the allocated slots, or they are deemed unsuitable, but we will do our best to accommodate everyone.

Key Dates
1 February – Call for papers
15 March – Abstracts due
1 May – Papers due for refereeing; conference timetable released
1 June – Feedback to authors
25 June – Conference

Other details
The conference will be held in Central Sydney, in easy reach of public transport and in an accessible location. There will be a small conference fee, of approximately $20-$30 on average, to cover the cost of lunches and travel costs for the interstate speakers. Full details to follow. If you require childcare please contact us to discuss this by 1 June 2011. The conference organisers will not be arranging billeting, but please contact us if you are unable to arrange your own accommodation option. As the conference has no outside funding source, we will be unable to cover travel costs for workshop presenters.

Facebook event page:

Elizabeth Humphrys and Jonathon Collerson (obo the organising group)

Just when everyone thought the tired old Labor government in NSW (they’ve been in for 14 years) was desperately trying to commit suicide as fast as possible, even to the point of electing a woman to the leadership to soften the blow at the election next year … they turn around and do something right: drop and simplify train fares without a hitch. The complex and archaic system used to take $18 from me every time I wanted to travel to Sydney, which is about 170 km away. Now it costs $7.80. In fact, if I want to travel from Dungog to Sydney it will cost me the same, and that is over 200 km. And the Liberals thought they would simply fall over the line at the election next year, as long as the underwhelming Barry O’Farrell doesn’t belch. Now they have a fight on their hands, since Labor is back.

At the midpoint of their campaign to convert 10% of the population of Sydney to their brand of fundamentalist, ‘Bible-based’ Christianity, Sydney Anglican Diocese has found that it has lost $160 million in the market meltdown over the last year. Although they aim to keep their prayer meetings, they need to slash most other things. I would suggest that the budget hole may well mean that God has other things in mind for Sydneysiders.