Taking Control – conference page


Event date: 12 March 2011
Main Building
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London

Taking Control

This conference is concerned with control.  On what it means today – under globalised late capitalism – to take or be in control of institutions, whether political, economic, or academic.  We are concerned with theorising how to take control, and on what to do when we take it.  We want to focus not on the dangers of control – since the corrupting effects of power have been amply theorized – but rather on what it means to take responsibility and effect change, and what this change could be.

That is, how can a vision for society be enacted in practical terms?  What is the role of democratic participation in this process of mastering social change?  And how do we remain accountable as we take control.  Does taking control mean working against, within or beside the existing institutional structure?

This question remains under-theorised in contemporary critical political theory – which often remains limited to the critique of the status quo. Without the impulse to take responsibility and take control, this critique becomes meaningless – it results in a de facto acceptance.  Where projects like the ‘Idea of Communism’ stop, this conference seeks to take the next step.  It must be situated along work such as the Turbulence Collective’s ‘What it means to win’ volume and Erik-Olin-Wright’s ‘Envisioning Utopias’.

We are clear that the idea of communism remains important and a project to be fought for.  However in the strategic question we are at an impasse, how to take control and implement a new communism? The vanguard model seems discredited, but the model of the multitude seems non-committal, a mere waiting for things to gradually come together, resulting in a de facto withdrawal from the social. Even more than this impasse, in times of late capitalism the very meaning of what being in control entails is no longer clear.  We want to move from thinking about the idea of communism to implementing it.

Organised by ES: Philosophy Research Collective
With support from the Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS Department of Politics, Goldsmiths



Keynote Address:

Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith)
The Communist Horizon [AUDIO HERE]

Chair: Saul Newman


Panel A: Control and the Global

David Chandler (Wesminster)
The Problematic of Control in a Global World  

Vassilis Fouskas (Richmond)
Deconstructing Hub and Spoke Imperialism 

Stephen Chan (SOAS)  Discussant .

Panel A – questions.

Chair: Alexej Ulbricht


Panel B: Movements, Violence and Control

Phil Edwards (Manchester Met)
Terrible Beauty seeks Geometric Potency: arms and the law in the anni di plombo

Christian Garland
A Dual-power situation? Communization and the Materiality of Anti-power

Ben Whitham (Reading)
The Millbank Riot: A Step in the Direction of Control?

Panel B – questions.

Chair: Luke Evans


Panel C: Control and the State

Sumit Chakrabarti (Rabindra Bharati)
From ‘Corporation’ to ‘Crowd’: the rhetoric of control in the politics of West Bengal

Önder Çelik (École Normale Supérieure)
Decentralization as a possible way of struggling against late capitalism: the case of Turkish Kurdistan

Fabian Balardini (CUNY)
Taking Control and moving beyond the ‘extractivist’ model of development: socialist state-owned National Oil Companies and permanent profitability crisis in the global oil industry

Panel C – questions.

Chair: Eleni Harlan


Panel D: Utopian Horizons

Mao Xin (Kings)
Ethically rethinking utopia in the contemporary world – from a Levinasian perspective

Michael Kimaid (Bowling Green State)
Toward a Resistance of Commodified Time and Space

Andreas Wittel (Nottingham Trent)
Towards a Higher Education Commons

Panel D – questions.

Chair: Matt Mahon


Closing Roundtable

  • Peter Hallward (Kingston)
  • Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths)
  • Paul Blackledge (Leeds Met)
  • David Graeber (Goldsmiths)
  • Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay (Goldsmiths)

Chair: Alexej Ulbricht

share this entry: