On Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, renowned scholars, artists and activists will join Goethe-Institut New York and the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research for Marx Now: A Symposium. Across a series of panels and learning sessions, we’ll explore why, 200 years after his birth, Marx remains relevant to our contemporary moment. How does Marx speak to a world of extraordinary inequality, political upheaval, fractured identity, ecological degradation, technological acceleration, alienation, and exhaustion?
A complete schedule and participant biographies are below. Marx Now: A Symposium is free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, please visit the event page.
Saturday, May 5
6:00pm: Welcome and Opening Remarks
6:15-8pm: Opening Panel: Why Marx Now?
Featuring Kali Akuno, Chiara Bottici, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Drucilla Cornell, Benjamin Kunkel, Anwar Shaikh, and McKenzie Wark
9:30pm: Verso’s Karl Marx 200th Birthday Party (@ Verso Loft in DUMBO)
Sunday, May 6
10am: Coffee and Bagels
10:30am-12:30pm: Panel: Marx and Political Identity
Featuring Kali Akuno, Ravi Ahmed, Suzanne Schneider, and Antonio Vázquez-Arroyo
11am-12:30pm: Learning Session 1: The Early Marx and Alienation
Led by Michael Stevenson
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch Break
1:30-3:30pm: Panel: Capitalism, Ecology, and Technology
Featuring Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and Michelle Miller
2-3:30pm: Learning Session 2: Marx on Slavery and the American Civil War
Led by Jude Webre
3:30-4pm: Coffee Break
4-6pm: Panel: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Marx
Featuring Malik Gaines, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Juliana Spahr, and McKenzie Wark
4:30-6pm: Learning Session 3: Marx and Gender
Led by Abby Kluchin
6-7:30pm: Closing Panel: What is to be Done?
Featuring Raphaële Chappe, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Erica Smiley, Marshall Steinbaum, and Maria Svart
7:30pm: Closing Reception
Ravi Ahmad is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and was recently elected to DSA’s National Leadership. She is a native New Yorker, a red diaper baby, a recovering economist and an avid knitter. Her political activism has ranged from Quakers to anarchists to actually existing Communist Parties.
Kali Akuno is the Director of Cooperation Jackson, which is an emerging network of worker cooperatives and supporting institutions. Cooperation Jackson is fighting to create economic democracy by creating a vibrant solidarity economy in Jackson, MS that will help transform Mississippi and the South. You can find more information about Cooperation Jackson at www.CooperationJackson.org. Kali served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, MS. His focus was supporting cooperative development, sustainability, human rights and international relations. He is an organizer, educator, and writer for human rights and social justice. Kali is the former Co-Director of the US Human Rights Network. Kali also served as the Executive Director of the Peoples’ Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) based in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times magazine and a contributing writer for The Intercept, where she covers American politics and the politics of climate change. Kate previously worked for the New Economy Coalition, and is currently pursuing a masters degree in economics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Among other outlets, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Harpers, The Nation, Jacobin, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Dissent and Rolling Stone. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Alyssa Battistoni is an Associate Faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and currently a PhD candidate in political theory at Yale University. She holds an MSc from Oxford University. Her dissertation addresses the place of nature in twentieth-century political thought, read through feminist political economy; more broadly, her research interests are in social and political theory, political economy, environmental politics, feminist theory, science studies, and the history of political thought. Her academic work has been published in Political Theory and Contemporary Political Theory and her public writing has appeared in Dissent, n+1, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Jacobin, where she is a member of the editorial board.
Chiara Bottici is Associate Professor at Philosophy at New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College (New York). She is the author of Imaginal Politics: Images beyond Imagination and The Imaginary (Columbia University Press, 2014), A Philosophy of Political Myth (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Men and States (Palgrave, 2009). With Benoit Challand, she also co-authored Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (Routledge, 2010). She also co-edited the collections of essays The Politics of Imagination (Routledge, 2011, with Benoit Challand), The Anarchist Turn (Pluto 2013, with Simon Critchley and Jacob Blumenfeld) and Feminism, Capitalism and Critique (Palgrave 2017, with Banu Bargu).
Raphaele Chappe is a core faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She holds a PhD in Economics from The New School for Social Research, an LL.M from New York University School of Law, a Master’s degree in Comparative Business Law from the University of Pantheon-Sorbonne in Paris, France, and an LL.B in Law and French Law from King’s College London. Her research interests include the link between financial markets and wealth inequality; political economy and the history of economic thought; and the philosophical foundations of microeconomics. More generally she is interested in interdisciplinary research, drawing from insights in economics and the social sciences as well as legal theory to analyze modern capitalism and financial markets. She has practiced as an attorney for eight years in the financial services industry and also teaches at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Ajay Singh Chaudhary
Ajay Singh Chaudhary is the executive director of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and a core faculty member specializing in social and political theory. His research focuses on social and political theory, Frankfurt School critical theory, political economy, media, religion, and post-colonial studies. He has written for the The Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, Quartz, Social Text, Dialectical Anthropology, The Jewish Daily Forward, Filmmaker Magazine, and 3quarksdaily, among other venues. Ajay is currently working on a book of political theory for the Anthropocene.
Drucilla Cornell is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She is a playwright and also launched The uBuntu Project in South Africa in 2003 and has been working with the project ever since. Professor Cornell’s theoretical and political writings span a tremendous range of both topics and disciplines. From her early work in Critical Legal Studies and Feminist Theory to her more recent work on South Africa, transitional justice, and the jurisprudence of Ronald Dworkin, Professor Cornell continues to think through new and evolving issues in philosophy and politics of global significance. Her latest title, coauthored with Stephen Seely, is called The Spirit of Revolution: Beyond the Dead Ends of Man.
Malik Gaines is an artist and writer based in New York. His book, Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left (NYU Press, 2017), traces a circulation of political ideas through performances of the 1960s and beyond. His essays have appeared in Art Journal, Women & Performance, and in several exhibition catalogues. Since 2000, Gaines has performed and exhibited with collaborators Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade as the group My Barbarian, whose work has been shown at MoMA, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Kitchen, LACMA, MOCA LA, ICA Philadelphia, Toronto’s Power Plant, Amsterdam’s De Appel, Madrid’s El Matadero, Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery, and many others, and has been included in the Whitney Biennial, two California Biennials, two Performa Biennials, the Montreal Biennial and the Baltic Triennial. My Barbarian has had solo exhibitions at the New Museum and Participant Inc., New York; the Hammer Museum, Human Resources, and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles; Gallery 400, Chicago; Transformer Gallery, Washington D.C.; Museo El Eco, Mexico City; and Yaffo 23, Jerusalem. Gaines also makes performance and video work solo, and in other collaborations. He is assistant professor of Performance Studies in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Abby Kluchin holds a Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. in philosophy of religion from Columbia University and a B.A. with High Honors from Swarthmore College. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Ursinus College, where she also teaches in the Gender and Women’s Studies program. She has previously taught in the Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union and in Columbia’s Core Curriculum. Abby’s courses at the Institute have included Dreams and Hysteria: an Introduction to Freud; Writing on the Body; Visceral Theory: Affect and Embodiment; and Beauvoir and Beyond: Philosophy and Sexual Difference. She specializes in Continental philosophy, with emphases in poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, and feminist theory. Her current book project interrogates contemporary debates over sexual ethics alongside classic philosophical texts in order to propose an intersubjective theory of consent. Abby is also a compulsive reader of Victorian novels and science fiction.
Benjamin Kunkel, a founder of n+1, is the author of Indecision, a novel; Buzz, a play; and Utopia or Bust, a collection of essays on contemporary left thinkers. He writes for The London Review of Books and Salvage, among other journals.
Michelle Miller is the co-founder of Coworker.org, a digital platform for worker voice. Since its founding in 2013, Coworker.org has supported worker organizing to shift power at companies like Starbucks, REI, Wells Fargo and Comcast. She is a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow, 2015 JM Kaplan Innovation Fellow, and 2017 fellow at the Institute for the Future. In 2015, Michelle was proud to join President Barack Obama as co-moderator of the first ever Town Hall on Worker Voice, bringing the voices and concerns of workers directly to the White House. She sits on the boards of Appalshop, Arts and Democracy Project, and the Brooklyn Institute For Social Research, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Rebecca Ariel Porte
Rebecca Ariel Porte is a core faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She holds a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is currently at work on a theory of paradise, Arcadia, and the Golden Age.
Suzanne Schneider is deputy director and core faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. An interdisciplinary scholar working in the fields of history, religious studies, and political theory, Suzanne’s research interests relate to Jewish and Islamic modernism, religious movements in the modern Middle East, the history of modern Palestine/Israel, secularism, and political identity. She is the author of Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine (Stanford University Press) and a regular contributor to The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media. She is currently working on a book about religious violence in the modern age. In her capacity as BISR’s deputy director, Suzanne oversees program execution, development initiatives, and institutional partnerships.
Anwar Shaikh is a professor of economics at the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School University, Associate Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Economics, from 2000-2005 Senior Scholar, and member of the Macro Modeling Team at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His most recent book is Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises from Oxford University Press, 2016; his intellectual biography is included in the book Eminent Economists II from Cambridge University Press 2014; and in 2013 he was awarded the Social Science Prize of the NordSud International Prize for Literature and Science of the Fondazione Pescarabruzzo in Italy for his paper on George Soros’ notion of reflexivity entitled “Reflexivity, Path-Dependence and Disequilibrium Dynamics” in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Fall 2010. He was the recipient of two successive grants from the Initiative for New Economic Thinking (INET) in 2011-2012. A prior book is Globalization and the Myths of Free Trade (2007, Routledge). He has written on international trade, finance theory, political economy, macroeconomic policy, the welfare state, growth theory, inflation theory, crisis theory, national and global inequality, and past and current global economic crises. Some recent articles are “Income Distribution, Econophysics and Piketty”, Review of Political Economy, 2016, 18-29 July; “Race, gender and the econophysics of income distribution in the USA”, with Nikolaos Papanikolaou and Noe Wiener, Physica A 415 (2014) 54–60; “On the role of reflexivity in economic analysis”, Journal of Economic Methodology (2014), 439-445; and “The First Great Depression of the 21st Century”, Socialist Register (2011), Fall.
Erica Smiley oversees the organizing department at Jobs With Justice, which includes local and national campaign work and a team dedicated to developing innovative strategies to expand collective bargaining power. She has authored several articles highlighting some of the organization’s most exciting developments in the New Labor Forum, Dissent Magazine, the Journal on Class, Race and Corporate Power, and other publications. She also serves on the board of the Highlander Research and Education Center. In the past has organized with community groups such as Progressive Maryland, the Tenants and Workers Support Committee (now Tenants and Workers United) in Virginia, and SEIU Local 500 in Baltimore—focusing on home care and childcare workers in the latter two. She was national field director of Choice USA (now United for Reproductive and Gender Equity—URGE) where she received the Young Women of Achievement Award in 2004, before joining the staff of Jobs With Justice in 2005. She is originally from Greensboro, N.C. where she is a proud product of public schools.
Juliana Spahr’s Du Bois’s Telegram is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Her most recent book is That Winter the Wolf Came from Commune Editions.
Marshall Steinbaum is Research Director and Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, where he researches market power and inequality. He works on antitrust and competition policy, the labor market, and higher education and student debt. He is a co-editor of After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality, and his work has appeared in Democracy, Boston Review, Jacobin, the Journal of Economic Literature, the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and ProMarket. Steinbaum earned a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.
Michael Stevenson is a core faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. He received his BA in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD in philosophy from Columbia University. He has taught at Columbia University as a Core Lecturer, and at Barnard College and Hunter College, City University of New York. He specializes in the German philosophical tradition, particularly Kant, German Idealism, Phenomenology and Existentialism.
Maria Svart is the National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America. She studied social movement history and gender studies at the University of Chicago before becoming a campus environmental organizer, being busted while trying to form a union, then spending almost a decade in the labor movement before moving to DSA in 2011.
Antonio Y. Vázquez Arroyo
Antonio Y. Vázquez Arroyo is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University-Newark. He is the author of Political Responsibility: Responding to Predicaments of Power (Columbia University Press, 2016). His writing has appeared in Constellations, Contemporary Political Theory, Historia y Sociedad, New Political Science, Perspectives on Politics, Political Theory, Polity, Postcolonial Studies, Radical Philosophy and Theory & Event. Currently he is finishing a book on the dialectical legacy of critical theory, and its political and epistemological import, tentatively titled Wayward Dialectics.
McKenzie Wark is the author of A Hacker Manifesto (Harvard 2004), General Intellects (Verso 2015) and various other things. Wark teaches at The New School in New York City.
Jude Webre is an associate faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. He completed his Ph.D. in History at Columbia University and has taught courses at Columbia and for the Brooklyn Institute in U.S. History, American Studies, and Literature Humanities. His work explores the intersection of 20th-century American cultural and political history with modern intellectual history, with a particular interest in the relationship of poetry, aesthetic pragmatism, and cultural democracy. His dissertation examines the reception and adaptation of European literary modernism into American culture from World War I to the early Cold War, inflected by radical democratic political movements and the social transformations of the two world wars. Besides his scholarly life, Jude has also been a performing rock and jazz musician for over twenty years.