PAST AND PRESENT.
Philosophy, Politics, and History in the Thought of Gramsci
18-19 June 2015
King’s College London
Speakers: Fabio Frosini (Urbino), Alex Loftus (KCL), Peter Thomas (Brunel); including contributions and chairing from: Derek Boothman (Bologna), Carl Levy (Goldsmiths), Magnus Ryner (KCL), Anne Showstack Sassoon (Birkbeck), Leila Simona Talani (KCL), Stathis Kouvelakis (KCL), Alex Callinicos (KCL), Cosimo Zene (SOAS), Sonita Sarker (Macalester, USA), Alessandro Carlucci (Oxford)
The legacy of the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) has been widely acknowledged as one of the most significant intellectual contributions of the twentieth century. Even as the historical events of his life have faded from living memory, Gramsci’s thought has increased in influence and become diffused amongst a multitude of disciplines in the academic firmament; from philosophy to history and geography, through cultural theory and subaltern studies, to international relations, linguistics, critical legal studies and beyond.
In light of the widespread and heterogeneous deployments of his ideas, it seems apt and necessary to return to the texts themselves: Gramsci’s pre-prison and his prison writings, both the Prison Notebooks and the Letters from Prison. The aim of this conference is to bring together a new generation of scholars working on Gramscian themes in order to engage closely with his writings.
Working in collaboration with experienced Gramsci scholars, this conference is the first initiative of a group of early-career researchers and graduate students. Through a combination of panels and workshops, the conference will provide participants with the opportunity to present their work and to receive constructive feedback in a friendly and stimulating environment.
The two-day international conference also aims to contribute to the process of building links between Anglophone and international, in particular Italian, Gramsci scholarship. The organizers hope to create a network through which to share research and encourage interactions between researchers from different countries working on Gramscian thought and related topics. It is proposed that an edited collection of essays will be published as a product of the conference and further engagements.
Gramsci’s perspective is marked by a profound sense of the manifold connections between the explanation of the past and the analysis of the present. Our intention is collectively to investigate the rich potentialities of the theme ‘Past and Present’ in his thought. Participants are invited to explore the conceptual laboratory of Gramsci’s historical-political narration, as well as his endeavour to theorize the unity of theory and practice. This nexus between ‘explication’ of the past and strategic ‘analysis’ of the present is characteristic of the originality of Gramsci’s approach to the ‘question of theory’. More broadly, the conference aspires to study the way in which Gramsci’s historical perspective intermingles with his engaged concern for the future of a ‘big and terrible’ world, in the sense that might today be called ‘global history’.
Gramsci’s ability to dialectically unite seemingly opposed elements (i.e. civil society and the state, structure and superstructure, the spatial elements of historicism, or vice versa the multiple temporalities going across the political space) illuminates the capacity of his thought to stimulate critical renewals in various domains of thought. Further investigation of this critical project reveals the aspect of ‘reciprocal translatability’ that Gramsci identifies between different facets of the knowledge of reality as ‘philosophy’, ‘politics’ and ‘economics’. The conference aims to explore the ongoing elaboration of this ‘homogeneous circle’ (Notebook 4, § 46), that is, the constitution of Gramsci’s conception of the world and its relation to history, understood as a unitary and dynamic process.
– Department of European Studies, King’s College London
– Department of Geography, King’s College London
– International Gramsci Society
– International Gramsci Society – Italia
– Ghilarza Summer School – Scuola internazionale di studi gramsciani
Francesca Antonini (Università di Pavia, Italy)
Aaron Bernstein (King’s College London)
Lorenzo Fusaro (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), Mexico)
Robert Jackson (Manchester Metropolitan University)
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