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Cultural Studies Program

Current Conference

Twenty-First Annual Cultural Studies Conference



October 21-22, 2016

Studying capitalism is all the rage today. From the remarkable popular success of Thomas Piketty’s bestselling book to the burgeoning turn to capitalism in a variety of disciplines (such as the growth of research on it in history departments across the country; recent studies on the relationship between Islam and capitalism; the reanimation of Marxist sociology; and new ethnographies of labor and the global economy) and in culture (for example, Michael Moore’s documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, and Mohsin Hamid’s novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia), capitalism as an object of study has captured both scholarly and public attention.

The 2016 Cultural Studies conference proposes to seize on this growing interest in capitalism by bringing together the many scholars here, along with a few outside speakers, whose work touches on various aspects of economic life in capitalist societies to explore critical points of intersection among our research interests. Many of us study global capitalism in local contexts (where the "local" is defined both in terms of symbolic import, material dimensions, and lexical reach) and periods that have marked critical disjunctures or crises in capitalism (the Great Depression and its aftermath; neoliberalism as practiced since the 1980s around the globe; and most recently, the 2007-2008 financial crisis).

Presentations at the Cultural Studies conference will explore the political economy of cultural representations of capitalism; the intellectual, cultural, and political dimensions of accounting and control techniques in capitalist society; the creation and propagation of new narratives that justify particular production arrangements or reinforce powerful methods of social intervention; the role of the state in regulating capital flows and investments; local variations in the acceptance, instantiation, and resistance to global capital streams; and case studies of specific industries or corporations as they rise and fall, among other topics.



Friday, October 21

1:30pm - 3:30pm Panel 1: Capitalism and Accounting Practices
Global and International Studies Building 1060

  • Rebecca Lave (Geography, IU), “Accounting for Nature”
  • Amali Ibrahim (Religious Studies/International Studies, IU), “Accounting for the Soul: Religious Improvisation in Democratic Indonesia”
  • Stephen Macekura (International Studies, IU), “The Rhodesian Anxiety: Accounting for Post- Colonial Capitalism”
  • Moderator: Susan Lepselter (Anthropology, IU)

4:00pm - 5:30pm Keynote Address
SSRC Grand Hall, Woodburn Hall

  • Bethany E. Moreton (History, Dartmouth University)

Saturday, October 22

10:00am - 12:00pm Panel 2: Capitalism and the State
SSRC Grand Hall, Woodburn Hall

  • Kris Manjapra (History, Tufts University), “The Global Spread of Industrial Agriculture and the Problem of Freedom, 1830-1900”
  • Daromir Rydnyckj (Anthropology, University of Victoria), “Subjects of Debt: Identification and Entrepreneurialization in Islamic Finance”
  • Patrick Dove, (Spanish and Portuguese, IU), “Narcocapitalism and the Social Pact”
  • Moderator: Ilana Gershon (Anthropology, IU)

12:00pm - 1:00pm Lunch
SSRC Grand Hall, Woodburn Hall

1:00pm - 3:00pm Panel 3: Representing Capitalism
SSRC Grand Hall, Woodburn Hall

  • John McGlothlin (English IU)
  • Joan Hawkins (Cinema and Media Studies, IU), “Capital Interventions”
  • Jeffrey T. Kenney (Religious Studies, Depauw University), “Neo-Liberalism and the New Muslim Self in Egypt and Beyond”
  • Moderator: Micol Seigel (American Studies/History, IU)

3:15pm - 5:15pm Panel 4: Capitalisms and the Self
SSRC Grand Hall, Woodburn Hall

  • Majed Akhter (Geography IU), “Infrastructures of internationalism in the memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan”
  • Ilana Gershon (Anthropology IU), “Neoliberalism's Faultlines”
  • Sara Friedman (Anthropology/Gender Studies, IU) “Intentional Precarity: Opting Out as a Strategy for Producing Value”
  • Moderator: Claudia Breger (Germanic Studies, IU)