Capitalist Realism: 10 Years On

Sam Gillies Announcement
United Kingdom
Subject Fields
Music and Music History, Film and Film History, Political Science, Popular Culture Studies, Humanities

Symposium: February 15-16, 2020
Submission deadline: December 16, 2019
Venue: University of Huddersfield

“Capitalist Realism as I understand it cannot be confined to art or to the quasi-propagandistic way in which advertising functions. It’s more like a pervasive atmosphere, conditioning not only the production of culture but also the regulation of work and education, and acting as a kind of invisible barrier constraining thought and action.”

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism

In 2009, Mark Fisher published Capitalist Realism, an exploration of cultural product born from the seeming impossibility of any alternative to the established political and economic system of capitalism. In it, he establishes the key tensions manifested by a culture, artistic and otherwise, that has no alternative but to function within capitalist structures, with music, film, and the visual arts becoming a mirror through which to understand and interpret these more nebulous political and economic forces.

Ten years on and circumstances under late-capitalism continue to transform in ways Fisher could never have anticipated. From the rise of socialist figures Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the emergence of the gig economy, to the complex and multifaceted reactions to the socioeconomic structures of our world that are Brexit and Trump. Meanwhile some of Fisher’s most enduring observations remain just as problematic today: the reduced power and the increased bureaucratisation of our public institutions, the ambiguous function of learning and further education, the increased productisation of creative thought and culture, the economic dominance of nostalgia, and rising mental health issues, simultaneously born from capitalism and ineffectively treated under it.

The University of Huddersfield, supported by the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM), will host a two-day symposium in February to reflect upon cultural products of the last ten years to gain some insight into the contemporary state of capitalist realism. What observations can be made from culture from the 2010’s as it relates to Fisher’s original text? How has capitalist realism been challenged over the last decade? What avenues have emerged to challenge the dominant narrative of culture under capitalism? And where do our current cultural products indicate where we are heading and what are the possibilities for creating change?

Call for papers

The programme committee invites abstracts for paper presentations of a 20 minute duration, with 10 minutes for questions and discussions. Additional panel sessions may be formed from presenters exploring related themes.

We invite abstracts from academics, cultural critics, research students, and practitioners working in any discipline for papers exploring these ideas and more. In particular, we want to encourage scholars and thinkers without institutional support to attend and contribute.

The program committee will also invite a selection of those giving papers to write them up in the months following the conference for publication either in Divergence Press, the CeReNeM contemporary music journal, or as book chapters for publication in late 2020.

Contact Information

Sam Gillies - University of Huddersfield

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