London Latin American Marxist Reading Group

Accompanying the uneven and contradictory lurch to the left in parts of Latin America over the last 15 years there has been a revival of innovative and critical theoretical and political writings in the region, drawing on a range of radical, and particularly Marxist, traditions. Varieties of Latin American historical materialism and explorations of core Latin American questions have found expression in a plethora of new journals, intellectual groupings, and book publications. Part of this intellectual Marxist renewal has meant a re-engagement with classical texts and traditions of the past. However, much of this theoretical ferment has passed relatively unnoticed in the English-language literature on the economies, politics, and societies of the region.

In London, as a modest attempt to help reverse this inattention, we are forming a fortnightly reading group on classical and contemporary Latin American Marxist thinkers. We will meet every second Monday from 16:00-18:00 in room 105 at UCL’s Institute of the Americas. Although several texts will be in Spanish, the discussion will be conducted in English to be as inclusive as possible.

Our first meeting will be on Monday 17 November. We will be discussing the following texts:

  1. Michael Löwy “Introduction” in Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the present: an anthology, or the original text in Spanish: “Introducción: Puntos de referencia para una historia en América Latina,” in El marxismo en América Latina: Antología, desde 1909 hasta nuestros días (pp. 9-67) [PDFs for these will be made available to those who confirm their plans to attend]

  2. Omar Acha y Débora D’Antonio, “Cartografía y perspectivas del “marxismo latinoamericano”,’ in A Contra Corriente, 7, 2 (Winter), 2010: 210-256. Available here.

To express your interest in attending please contact the organizers of the reading group.

Juan Grigera: j.grigera@ucl.ac.uk
Jeff Webber: j.r.webber@qmul.ac.uk
Venue:
Room 105
Institute of Americas / UCL
51 Gordon Square
WC1H 0PN

Dates:

    Every second Monday:
First meetings: November 17, December 1, December 15, January 12, January 26

Radical Americas Symposium: Travel Grants

We are delighted to announce that the following travel grants will be available to paper presenters at Radical Americas 2014:

1 x large travel grant @ 300 GBP
3 x medium travel grant @ 100 GBP
5 x small travel grant @ 50 GBP

Last year the grants were broadly allocated on the following basis: large for transatlantic crossing, medium for European travel, and small for British travel. However, we are willing to take other circumstances into account. As last year, grant priority will go to non-salaried attendees (please state both this and your point of origin/method of transport in applying).

Application should be made to radicalamericas[a]gmail.com

Please note that conference registration will cost £20 for students/unwaged and £50 for salaried attendees. We feel these levels of pricing balance affordability with our wish to provide some grants (as well as covering other costs).

 

Ernesto Laclau

leclauIt was with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of Ernesto Laclau on Sunday in Seville. Ernesto supported the creation of the Radical Americas network from the outset, and we are deeply grateful for that. 

Whereas we in academia were en route to canonising Laclau and his work, as in Brighton in April 2013, Ernesto had unfinished business in Argentina and Latin America. For both his supporters and his adversaries he became the “organic intellectual” in his relationship to the Kirchners, but Ernesto saw himself as accompanying a new, emancipating process on the continent, defending the possibility of an intellectual life that is nourished by political activism. And if you’ve ever had a chance to witness one of his passionate tours of activist theory, and the enthusiastic reception he got from a young, politiziced and hungry audience in Buenos Aires and beyond, there was no doubt left about his deeply felt and inspiring commitment to the political projects of the New Left, in ways unthinkable in a European milieu of detached intellectual engagement with day to day politics.

Consistent with his thinking, Ernesto constantly critiqued the exclusive reliance of contemporary, post-Lehman Brothers social movements in Europe (and the west more generally) on autonomy, against the creation of a counter-hegemonic, alternative state – and therefore in his view uniting the transformative process of horizontal and vertical change.
And Ernesto remained vividly engaged in intellectual battles as well via his literary output. “Debates y Combates”, his journal launched in 2011, quickly became a focal point for critical thinking in Latin America. Also, Verso’s “The Rhetorical Foundations of Society”, published in the coming weeks, will bear witness to the timeliness and brilliance of his thought.
We would all do well to engage seriously with Ernesto’s theories on populism and radical democracy, an engagement most desperately needed in the media, but also in academic discourse. As struggles continue over inclusion and participation, manipulations and ridicule of the liberal-democratic process (so dominant and simplifying in western thought) are not enough when faced with increasing mobilization outside the institutional confines of liberal democracy.

Ernesto Laclau leaves us with a complex and challenging legacy that will continue to enrich our thinking. We will miss this great thinker and activist. Our thoughts are with his family and close friends.

Radical Reflections: The 20 Year Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising

18 February 2014, Social Sciences Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge

We are pleased to announce the first in our seminar series ‘Radical Reflections’, in which panels will look back at significant events in the radical history of the Americas. This year being the twentieth anniversary of the EZLN uprising in January 1994, we present this event in collaboration with CLAS, Cambridge

read a report of the meeting…