Seminar Theme

A central aspect of the Center is a weekly seminar that meets every Wednesday morning from 10 AM-12 PM. This seminar is a chance to bring student and faculty fellows together with distinguished visiting scholars around the annual theme. Below are descriptions of current and past seminar themes.


The Agrarian Question Today

When Karl Kautsky published  The Agrarian Question in 1899 he focused radical attention on the fate of peasants and agricultural workers in general in the face of expanding and industrializing capitalism.  Obviously, many of the material conditions of agrarian life, locally and globally, have changed demonstrably, as have the methodological parameters used to formulate the problematic. Yet, in the context of what appears to be inexorable urbanization, it is just as clear that agrarian questions are deeply enmeshed in the political, social, economic, and cultural challenges of contemporary existence.  How have newer regimes of capital, particularly those associated with agri-business and food conglomerates, both formed and fractured agricultural communities?  What kinds of contradictions underlie “land grabs” and related questions of resource sovereignty? Within combined and uneven development, how have the global south and the colonized north sought to exit agricultural dispossession and primitive accumulation?  How do direct producers cobble together livelihoods ? How is the agrarian gendered and racialized in the present?  How have agrarian workers organized and resisted the claims of global and neoliberal capitalism on their labor, land, and productive capacities as a whole?  How should the “agrarian question” be framed in light of the specter of environmental collapse and the technological “efficiencies” of maximal production and genetic modification?  Does the massive proletarianization of the peasantry (for instance, in China under the rubric of modernization) represent a further extension of capitalist desire or does it augur new and transformative modes of common agricultural production and redistribution?  To what extent do rural imaginations constitute a resource of hope in the present?  How are positive alternatives to agrarian exploitation being expressed? And finally, how have do mega cities of the global south articulate many of these contradictions while producing new social subjects?


Mobilizations and Migrations

However the international order is characterized, it is clear that various forms of internationalism are in distress.  These are at work both in producing violent conflagration and in generating moving populations across the globe (migrant labor, refugees, asylum seekers, exiles, emigres, etc.).  How, then, can internationalism be thought and articulated anew?  How can it productively and creatively address various modes of encounter and representation?  How can it build on radical genealogies of international solidarity in ways that interlink vital discussions of borders and walls with the systemic relations of racial capitalism and its spatial fixes in the current conjuncture?  How do migrations mediate mobilizations as political possibility?  Do revolutionary/decolonial reconfigurations of people in/against territories represent the new horizon of internationalism?  How does culture, for instance, mediate the complex parameters of space, place, and the movements between both to fathom contemporary crises and to enable a positive knowledge of their solution?


Insurgent Solidarities

–histories, formations, futures—

 Given the political challenges of the present, the necessity for a deeper understanding of radical solidarity appears more pressing than ever. Yet while solidarity has been pivotal to social change since at least the Haitian Revolution, how it is articulated has never been less than problematic. Is it a process of political change? Is it its goal? How does solidarity define what it is against without excluding forms of political difference that might enhance it? What can be learned from solidarity in the past, especially when contingent solidarity in the present regards such a history with justifiable incredulity? There can be no doubt that notions of solidarity continue to impact creatively how one understands political opposition and change, how one interrogates constituency and allies, goals and timelines. The differences of solidarity and a respect for the specificity of particular struggles clearly invigorates how solidarity is now engaged, but solidarity can also be more than negotiated coalitions and fragmented alliances. The CPCP seminar 2018-2019 encourages applications on the theme of “insurgent solidarities.” What makes solidarity insurgent? Is it its composition or the kind of change it struggles to affect? What are its political and cultural scales and modes, and what are their significance today? In what ways is solidarity not just an object of knowledge, but actively produces it?

Visit this page for information about previous seminar themes.