Plenary Sessions and Speakers

Tuesday, 29 August 2017 | 18:00 – 19:30 | Opening Plenary with David Harvey and Eva Illouz

David Harvey | Distinguished Professor of Anthropology & Geography, CUNY

Title: When Money Betrays Value


Chinese policy makers rate August 15th 1971 as one of the most important dates in world history.  On that day President Nixon announced that the peg of the dollar to gold (at $35 an ounce) was to be broken, thus breaching the dialectical relation that had long built up within capitalism between social labour and its representation in the material form of the money commodities. This set in train a shift in the historical and geographical development of capitalism that brought a strange mix of excessive though often spectacular urban development and violent dispossessions, extractions and repressions that constitute our present reality, explaining why we are more and more focused on building cities for people, institutions and even governments to invest in rather than cities for all to live in.

Biographical Note

David Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and author of various books, articles, and lectures that have been prominent in the development of modern geography as a discipline and in the advancement of geographical and spatial analysis in Marxist and critical analysis. He is the author of books such as “Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism” and “The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism”, which was one of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2011. Among his other books are “A Companion to Marx’s Capital”, “A Short History of Neoliberalism”, “The New Imperialism”, “Limits to Capital”, and “Social Justice and the City”. Professor Harvey has been teaching Karl Marx’s Capital for nearly 40 years. He was director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the CUNY from 2008 to 2014.

Eva Illouz | Professor of Sociology, Hebrew University in Jerusalem & EHESS

Title: Evaluation, Valuation, and Devaluation: Sexuality and the Techno-Capitalist Self


This presentation wants to show how the three main activities of the capitalist economy – evaluation, valuation and devaluation – have been transferred into the realm of sexuality.

Biographical Note

Eva Illouz has been Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem since 2006 and a Directeur d’Etudes at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris since 2015. She researches how emotional life has been transformed by capitalism and by the culture of modernity. Her studies on emotions, consumer society and media culture are regarded as milestones in the study of emotions and relations in the modern world. She is the author of books such as “Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism” (Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award, American Sociological Association, 2000), “Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism” (2007), “Saving the Modern Soul Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help” (2008), “Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation” (Best Book Award, Alpine Philosophy Society in France, 2012), “Hard-Core Romance: Fifty Shades of Grey” (2014). Professor Illouz was the first woman President of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 | 20:00 – 21:30 | Special Evening with Yanis Varoufakis and Donatella della Porta

Yanis Varoufakis | Professor of Economics, University of Athens/Co-founder of DiEM25

Title: What Comes After Europe’s Failed Neoliberal Experiment? The Case for an Internationalist European New Deal


The EU was founded as a corporatist project whose purpose was to take economic policy decisions out of the liberal democratic process across Europe. Once it developed a common currency condemned to unravel at the sign of the next global financial crisis, both the new currency and the neoliberal mantra that enveloped it at the level of ideology degenerated into a source of deflationary policies and increasing authoritarianism – both at odds with the logic of liberal democracy and dream of prosperity that the EU depended upon for its legitimacy and coherence. The pressing question for progressives now is: Can this EU be saved? Is it worth saving? Yanis Varoufakis’ answer turns on DiEM25’s proposal for an internationalist European New Deal.

Biographical Note

Yanis Varoufakis read mathematics and economics at the Universities of Essex and Birmingham and subsequently taught economics at the Universities of East Anglia, Cambridge, Sydney, Glasgow, Texas and Athens, where he holds a Chair in Economic Theory. He is also Honoris Causa Professor of Law, Economics and Finance at the University of Torino, Honorary Professor of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, Visiting Professor of Political Economy at King’s College, London, and Doctor of the University of Sussex Honoris Causa.

His latest books include “Adults in the Room: My struggle against Europe’s Deep Establishment” (2017); “And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe, Austerity and the Threat to Global Stability” (2016); “Economic Indeterminacy” (2014), and “The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the World Economy” (2011).

In January 2015 he was elected to Greece’s Parliament and served as Greece’s Finance Minister (until July 2015). During his term he experienced first hand the authoritarian inefficiency of the European Union’s institutions and had to negotiate with the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Varoufakis resigned the finance ministry when he refused to sign a loan agreement that perpetuated Greece’s debt-deflationary cycle. In February 2016 he co-founded DiEM25, the Democracy Europe Movement, which has grown in numbers across Europe since then.

Donatella della Porta | Professor of Political Science & Dean of the Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences, SNS

Title: Social Movements in the European Crisis. Still A Time of Critical Europeanism


As trust in the European Union is dramatically falling amongst its citizens, research on alternative visions of Europe ‘from below’ appears all the more relevant. Civil society organizations linked to the so called ‘left-libertarian’ movement family have long voiced progressively more critical positions about the EU, yet at the same time promoted ‘another Europe’ and Europeanized their organizational networks and action strategies. Like the labour movement during the development of nation-states, progressive social movements seemed destined to play a valuable role in pushing for a social and democratic Europe. Accordingly, at the beginning of the millennium cosmopolitan activists of the Global Justice Movement developed critical visions of Europe, elaborating complex reforms for EU policies and politics. While social movement studies, along with other areas of the social sciences, have assumed increasing Europeanisation, recent developments have challenged this view. In particular with the advent of the financial crisis, progressive social movements seem to have moved back to the national and local levels, engaging very little or not at all with the EU and questions of Europe more generally (Kaldor & Selchow 2012). To what extent critical Europeanism has ceded terrain to Euroscepticism, including within this alter-European vision, is a central question I seek to address in this talk.

Biographical Note

Donatella della Porta is Professor of Political Science, Dean of the Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences and Director of the PD program in Political Science and Sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) in Florence, where she also leads the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos). Between 2003 and 2015 she has been Professor of Sociology at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute. Her latest books are “Late Neoliberalism and its Discontents”, “Movement Parties in Times of Austerity” and “Where did the Revolution go?”. In 2011, Professor della Porta received the Mattei Dogan Prize. The main topics of her research include social movements, political violence, terrorism, corruption, the police and protest policing.

Friday, 1 September 2017 | 18:00 – 19:30 | Closing Plenary with Wendy Brown and Hartmut Rosa

Wendy Brown | Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science, University of California Berkeley

Title: How Did the Extreme Right Become the Party of Freedom?


Contemporary right wing political movements heralding nationalism, nativism and traditional (Christian) values are often said to be ushering in a new era of “illiberal democracy.” Yet these movements generally march (and troll) under a banner of freedom and charge their opposition with political values that curtail, endanger or forthrightly assault freedom. What part has neoliberal reason played in this development? What novel formulation of freedom, fuelled by what kinds of social and psychic energies, and legitimated by what supplementary principles, has inadvertently emerged from three decades of neoliberalised politics and everyday life in Western “democracies”?

Biographical Note

Wendy Brown is Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science at the University of California Berkeley, where she also teaches in the interdisciplinary graduate program in Critical Theory.  As a scholar of historical and contemporary political theory, she has established new paradigms in critical legal studies and feminist theory. In recent years, her work has focused on neoliberalism and the political formations to which it gives rise. Her latest books include “Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution”, “The Power of Tolerance” (with Rainer Forst) and “Walled States, Waning Sovereignty”. Professor Brown is also a frequent contributor to debates about the predicaments and future of public higher education.  She is a 2017-18 Guggenheim Fellow and UC President’s Humanities Fellow.

Hartmut Rosa | Professor of Sociology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena

Title: (Un)Making Subjects of Growth: Dynamic Stabilisation and the Resonance Conception of Subjectivity


The lecture will present a heuristically schematized account of the core features of the modern, capitalist social formation (section one), of the crises and pathologies it necessarily creates (section two), and of a possible way to transform or revolutionize this formation in the sense of a fundamental paradigm shift (section three). The contribution starts from the assumption that we can only understand society’s fabric and its dynamics if we simultaneously look at its structural (‘objective’) features and its cultural (or ‘subjective’) underpinnings which provide the (motivational) energy for social life to progress and evolve. The paper will argue that the two sides always go together in the sense of an ‘elective affinity’ (Max Weber), which implies that we cannot assume that structure always prefigures or pre-determines culture – or the other way round. Hence, the keynote will explore the intrinsic connection between the dominant forms of modern subjectivity and the mode of structural reproduction of modern society with a view to the ‘desire’ for growth, acceleration and innovation on the one hand and to the socio-economic imperatives which structurally ‘enforce’ the ensuing logic of escalation on the other hand.

In order to put forward the claim in the most straightforward and bold way possible, the line of argument is this: 1) Structurally, capitalist modernity can be defined as a social formation which can only reproduce itself in the mode of ‘dynamic stabilization’, i.e. through incessant growth, acceleration and innovation. 2) Culturally, this social formation is driven by a ‘Triple-A-Aspiration’ or ‘Triple-A-Approach’, i.e. by the desire to make the world ‘accessible’, ‘available’ and ‘attainable’ to an ever larger degree. 3) Structurally, this leads to pathologies of ‘desynchronisation’ (such as the ecological crisis, the crisis of democracy and the burnout-crisis), while culturally, the triple-A-approach to the world leads to ‘alienation’. Thus, while the formation of modern subjectivity is culturally geared and structurally forced towards an ‘escalatory’ approach to the world, modern subjects are in danger of ‘losing’ this very world on both counts: ‘Objectively’ by destroying instead of appropriating their natural surroundings, and ‘subjectively’ by experiencing the world as dead, silent and grey as well as illegible. 4) Therefore, a fundamental paradigm shift is needed that structurally replaces dynamic stabilization with a mode of ‘adaptive stabilization’ and which culturally replaces the triple-A-approach with a ‘resonance’ conception of the good life. Resonance in this sense is defined as an alternative mode of relating to the world which is ‘not’ geared towards increasing the horizon of what is available, attainable and accessible, but which develops ‘responsable’, dialogical relationships in three dimensions: with ‘things’ (material resonance), with ‘people’ (social resonance) and with life or the world as a totality (vertical resonance).

Biographical Note

Hartmut Rosa is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Sociology at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and Director of the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt, Germany. He has worked with the New School for Social Research in New York and the Universities of Augsburg, Duisburg-Essen and Manheim. His research interests are the sociology of time and identity formation and he is considered to be a leading representative of the new critical theory. He is the author of “Social Acceleration”, “High Speed Society, Social Acceleration, Power, and Modernity” and “Acceleration: Towards a Critical Theory of Late Modern Temporality“. Professor Rosa is co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Time & Society.

The Conference Programme will be updated periodically as more information becomes available, please check back regularly for updates.

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