Radical media, politics and culture.

CFP Post/autonomia Amsterdam May 19-22

CFP Post/autonomia Amsterdam May 19-22
Amsterdam, 19-22 May 2011
University of Amsterdam/SMART Project Space

Keynotes from: Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Vittorio Morfino, Matteo Pasquinelli, and Stevphen Shukaitis

Immaterial labour; multitude; the communism of capital; commons; precarity; biopolitics: autonomist thought has undoubtedly provided contemporary critical theory with some of its major concepts and/or allowed for an important reconsidering of these. Most importantly, autonomist thought has been at the forefront of thinking the crucial shifts in contemporary capitalism and its effects in both the social and cultural sphere. Autonomism’s impact on current critical theory in both European and American academia can therefore hardly be underestimated. Moreover, today we witness a resurgence of autonomist models of activism and thought in social movements in for example Italy, Greece, the UK and California.

In particular, autonomist thought has expressed a keen interest in the extension of the notion of ‘labour’ well beyond the workplace, and in particular the mobilization of subjective (emotional and creative) and collective energies by contemporary capitalism (the ‘social factory’ and its subsequent ‘social worker’); the simultaneous disappearance of full-time employment and the marginalization of large social groups (youth, women, immigrants); the advent of new social antagonisms as a result of the changes within capitalist society. Moreover, ‘autonomia’ has not only been an important theoretical project, it has also been an equally crucial social movement in the 1960’s-1970’s: many of the tactics used by the autonomia- movement in the social (such as the mobilization of ‘marginal’ groups – unemployed, young, migrants) and cultural domain (such as the creation of alternative ‘free’ media) are appropriated and reinvented by today’s social and cultural movements.

‘What can ‘post/autonomia’ mean today?’ therefore is one of the pivotal questions in contemporary critical theory and activism. Rather than packaging it as ‘Italian Theory’, we would like to explore the international dissemination of autonomous thought and activism today and their possible futures; in particular we would like to explore critical engagements and uses of autonomist ideas that shape what we might call post/autonomia. It is precisely the dynamics, tensions and ruptures between autonomia and its possible futures (or ‘posts’) that we would like to investigate. What are the effects of autonomia, as a thought and a movement, in a variety of domains: from critical theory to cinema, from activism to academic practice?

On the one hand we see the constant effort of Italian autonomist thinkers (Negri, Virno, Lazzarato, Berardi etc) to reinvent/rethink autonomist concepts, in dialogue with European or American critical theory; at the same time, crucially, we see how these efforts have fired off a new wave of ideas and forms of activism claiming or inspired by autonomist heritage, which resounds internationally. Furthermore, post/autonomia might name the as yet uncharted or obscured legacy of autonomism: its intersections with feminism, its rethinking of (state) sovereignty, the locality and temporality of resistance, etc. etc.

Crucial questions raised by the notion of post/autonomia are:
how did it autonomist thought move from what was in fact a specific local context to the global activist and academic sphere? What are the possible connections between (post)autonomia and other contemporary conceptualizations of ‘communism’? What is the role of (post)autonomist thinking in current efforts to reassemble and reconstitute the militant left? What are possible connections/convergences between (post)autonomism and post-situationism, anarchism or the green movement? How can post/autonomia be situated in the aftermath or even afterlife of the ‘no global’ moment? How post/autonomia taking shape in diverse cultural and artistic interventions? What is the significance of autonomist thought in non-western/global contexts (e.g. the debates concerning precarious labour in China)? How does the current the interest in autonomism and its relevance relate to political discourses concerning the ‘heritage’ of 68/77 and their alleged ‘liquidation’ (by Berlusconi/Sarkozy); to what extent does it encourage or block these debates? What elements of autonomism remain unaddressed today (e.g. the feminist heritage)? What particular nexus between theory/militant practice takes shape in post/autonomia (e.g. in media activism and precarity-movements)? What new perspectives/connections can be created: e.g. post/autonomia and queer, the metropolis, bioeconomy, etc. etc.

The conference will provide a platform for addressing these and other important questions. Papers may address the following topics (but are by no means bound to these):

Post/autonomia and
- contemporary activism
- conceptualizations of bio-politics
- the neoliberal state
- precarity
- media activism
- academic activism and new student movements (L’Onda ch vience etc)
- post-situationism
- queer autonomy
- feminism
- the work of individual theorists (e.g. Negri, Virno, Berardi, Lazzerato, Marazzi etc)
- semiocapitalism
- artistic and cultural activism
- political/cultural memories of autonomia
- the metropolis and the social factory today
- the new communism
- (the lessons of) Genova
- strategies of resistance
- populism
- the law, the state of exception and legitimacy

We welcome both academic and practice-oriented contributions in English. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes. Please send abstracts (350 words) before March 15 to postautonomia@gmail.com. For further information, please contact postautonomia@gmail.com.

This conference is the first of a series within the project Precarity and Post-autonomia: the Global Heritage funded by NWO (Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research).

Organizing committee:
Vincenzo Binetti, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Joost de Bloois, University of Amsterdam
Silvia Contarini, Université de Nanterre
Monica Jansen, Utrecht University
Federico Luisetti, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Frans-Willem Korsten, Leiden University/Erasmus University Rotterdam
Gianluca Turricchia, University of Amsterdam