Capitalizing Power: The Qualities and Quantities of Accumulation
A Conference of the Forum on Capital as Power
September 28-30, 2012, York University, Toronto
Call for Papers
Abstract Submission Deadline: July 21, 2012
Keynote and Faculty Guest Speakers
Professor Jeffrey Harrod, University of Amsterdam
Global Weimarism: The Demise of Cohesive Global Power?
Professor Herman Schwartz, University of Virginia
Intellectual Property Rights, Collective Action, and the Continuing Power of "Finance"
Professor Justin Podur, York University
Nature, Capital and Commodification: Ecology and the Capital as Power Framework
Professor J.J. McMurtry, York University
Community Capital: The Pitfalls and Promise of Local Power
Professor Jonathan Nitzan, York University
No Way Out: Crime, Punishment and the Limits of Power
the global crisis lingering, many now wonder how capital has become so
powerful, and what should be done about it. Although we are eager to
provide answers, the problem starts with the question itself: what
exactly do we mean by ‘capital’, and what does it mean to say that
capital is ‘powerful’? The difficulty lies in the fractured nature of
modern social science – both its conventional division into numerous
disciplines, including economics, politics, sociology, international
relations, and culture, and the habitual bifurcation of the economy
itself into real and nominal spheres. These fractures create conceptual
rifts: they place most aspects of power outside the economic process,
and they portray capitalization as a fictitious mirror of an economic
reality located in production.
The theory of Capital as Power
removes these fissures by abolishing the disciplinary divisions between
economics, politics, and other disciplines, as well as the economic
bifurcation of the real and nominal. In doing so, the theory puts power
at the centre of analysis and examines finance as the main algorithm of
capitalist power. The goal is to decipher the conversion of qualities
to quantities: to theorize and research how the qualities of power – the
multifaceted interactions of command and obedience, force and
submission, violence and resistance – are universalized and discounted
to the quantities of capitalization.
We are calling for
theoretical, empirical, and historical papers to engage critically with
questions such as the following. How does power bear on accumulation,
and how does it get capitalized? How has capitalization evolved and
mutated? What are the qualitative forms of power in capitalism, and how
do they compare to those that characterized earlier modes of power? What
are the historical roots of capital as power? Do these roots alter the
way we understand the origins of capitalism? How does capitalism convert
qualities into quantities? What are the limits of capitalized power?
How is capitalized power resisted and opposed? Can it be reformed or
overthrown? Can these questions be addressed by mainstream and heterodox
theories of capitalism – and if so, how do their answers differ from
those offered by the theory of capital as power?
We are also interested in concrete areas of inquiry related to these broader questions. Suggested topics include:
• Capitalist power and labour – from proletarianization and wages to productivity and organization;
• International and regional relations and the capitalization of power;
• Capitalist and democratic accounting, including the history of discounting and its possible alternatives;
• Power and price formation – from local to global markets;
• The state as a locus of capitalization – from taxes and the law to ideology and violence;
• The role of capitalist power in contemporary crises;
• Capitalized power and nature – from genetic engineering, to energy, to the biosphere;
• Comparative modes of power: ancient and feudal, communist and fascist, capitalist and beyond;
• Capital as Power versus ‘primitive accumulation’ – dispossession, co-option and genocide;
• The power dimensions of ‘immaterial’ capitalism – from leisure and fear to knowledge and ideology;
• The psychology of capitalist power;
• Alternative visions for a de-capitalized society.
conference will comprise two parts: public presentations open to all
(day one), followed by a closed workshop for the conference participants
(days two and three). The workshop will consist of longer
presentations, allowing more time for debate, discussion and
contemplation. Participants should be prepared to present in either
part, depending on the allocation made by the organizers.
We may be able to assist presenters by partly covering the cost of
travel and accommodation. This possibility is still tentative; it is
conditional on our ability to secure sufficient funding.
Deadline: Please email abstracts of 250 words to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for abstract submissions is July 21, 2012.