Great Transformation


26 September 2019
Great Transformation
Image: Sarah Cords

Please mind that only events in English language will be presented on this page. Please check the corresponding German page de for all events.

All events shown below are in chronological order.

Maristella Svampa (La Plata, AR): Transformation of the Global South – what Future?

Maristella Svampa Maristella Svampa Image: privat

Keynote at 9–10 a.m. // Lecture Hall 1

Maristella Svampa is a sociologist and professor at the Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina as well as an independent researcher at CONICET. Main areas of work
include: social movements in Latin and South America, social-ecological transformation, extractivism.

This lecture will be held in Spanish; a German translation will be available.

En nuestra presentación, proponemos conectar el concepto de Antropoceno con la expansión de la frontera de los commodities en la periferia y su modalidad de apropiación y comoditización de la naturaleza (neoextractivismos del siglo XXI). Desde el Sur global, asumir la crisis socioecológica y civilizatoria del giro antropocénico conlleva el desafío de pensar alternativas al neoextractivismo dominante, elaborando estrategias de transición que marquen el camino hacia una sociedad posextractivista. Asimismo implica valorizar otras miradas en la relación con la naturaleza y otras relaciones sociales, que impulsen otros modos de habitar el territorio.  

Nuestra propuesta destaca en primer lugar dos conceptos para pensar la transición y salida de la crisis sistémica, elaborados desde América Latina: Postdesarrollo y Postextractivismo. Asimismo, propone indagar en los enfoques relacionales en el vínculo Sociedad/Naturaleza, vinculados con las luchas sociales y las alternativas civilizatorias, a saber, las perspectivas indianistas y, muy particularmente, los feminismos populares en América Latina. En tercer lugar, desde el punto de vista de las prácticas, indaga en los ensayos desde la economía social y solidaria, sobre todo aquellos conectados con la expansión de la agroecología en América Latina.


In this presentation, I propose to connect the concept of Anthropocene with the expansion of the boundary of commodities in the peripheral countries and its modality of appropriation and commoditization of nature (neoextractivisms of the 21st century). From the global South, assuming the socioecological and civilizatory crisis of the anthropocenic turn entails the challenge of thinking about alternatives to the dominant neoextractivism, elaborating transitional strategies that mark the way towards a postextractivist society. It also implies valuing other views in the relationship with nature and other social relations, which promote other ways of inhabiting the territory.

Our proposal highlights two concepts to think about the transition and exit from the systemic crisis, elaborated from Latin America: Post-development and Post-extractivism. It also proposes to investigate relational approaches in the relationship between society and nature, linked to social struggles and civilizational alternatives, Indianist perspectives and, particularly, popular feminisms in Latin America. In third place, practical point of view, it investigates in the contributions from the social and solidarity economy, those connected with the expansion of agro-ecology in Latin America.

Nick Srnicek (London, GB): The Political Economy of Artificial Intelligence

Nick Srnicek Nick Srnicek Image: privat

Keynote at 9–10 a.m. // Lecture Hall 2

Nick Srnicek is lecturer for Digital Economy in the Department of Digital Humanities at the Kings College London. Main areas of work include: platform economics, the political economy of AI, anti-work politics, Marxist economics

For most, the political and economic impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) can largely be reduced to its effects on automation. In this reading, AI is simply another labour-saving technology in a long line of such technologies. This talk will argue instead that AI has a more profound impact on the economy, operating through a channel which centralises resources within increasingly large capitalist firms. AI – or at least its contemporary embodiment – is a technology which requires centralisation in order to function, and this aspect has significant political economy implications. This talk will explore some of these consequences, focusing on how the power already being marshalled within the world’s largest tech firms is likely to augmented and exacerbated through the rise of AI.

Disembedded Markets. Economic Theology and Global Capitalism

Disembedded Markets Disembedded Markets Image: Routledge

Book presentation at 10.30 a.m.–12 p.m. // Villa Rosenthal, Mälzerstraße 11, 07745 Jena

Christoph Deutschmann, Routlegde, London 2019

With the term "Economic Theology", the book focuses on the manifest or latent presence of theological thought in economic theory, which it endeavors to explain from the perspective of social theory. Referring to Karl Polanyi, the author argues that the historical disembedding of markets evolving since the Great Transformation of the 19th century has created a condition of profound economic and social uncertainty that gave rise to the resurgence of theology in the context of economic theory. The argument unfolds in three steps: First, a systematic approach to analyze the historical process of market disembedding, which distinguishes between the territorial, social, material and temporal dimensions of disembedding is developed. Second, the author discusses the place of disembedded and self-regulated markets in a functionally differentiated modern society, arguing that the standard accounts of functional differentiation (in particular Luhmann) are neglecting the latent dominance of self-regulated markets over society. Third, it is shown, how the built-in asymmetries between self-regulated markets and their non-market environment give rise to two types of "vicious circles", which constitute a key background of the present crises of global capitalism.  

Luc Boltanski, Arnaud Esquerre (Paris, FR): Naissance du capitalisme intégral

Boltanski & Esquerre Boltanski & Esquerre Image: F. Mantovani Gallimard

Keynote at 1.30–2 p.m. // Lecture Hall 1

Luc Boltanski is a sociologist and research director at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. Main areas of work include: theories of capitalism, sociology of morality, pragmatism, political sociology.

Arnaud Esquerre is a sociologist and researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. Main areas of work include: historical sociology, social criticism, capitalism research.

This lecture will be held in French; a German translation will be available.

Nous proposons d’analyser l’évolution du capitalisme au cours du dernier demi-siècle à la suite de la désindustrialisation dans de nombreux pays développés occidentaux. Plutôt que de nous centrer sur l’organisation du travail et ses transformations, nous souhaitons étudier le commerce des choses, en tant qu’objets matériels qui se transforment en marchandises dès lors qu’on y attache un prix. Nous proposons, pour cela, de distinguer quatre formes de mise en valeur qui permettent aux acteurs dans une transaction—vendeurs et acheteurs, c’est-à-dire éventuellement tout le monde—d’établir, de justifier ou de critiquer le prix d’une marchandise. Ces formes—standard, actif, collection, tendance— ont progressivement émergé à partir du XIXe siècle. Si la forme standard était au cœur de l’économie industrielle, la forme collection prévaut, elle, dans l’économie du luxe, du patrimoine, des arts ou de la culture, en pleine expansion depuis les années 1980, activités que nous regroupons, en leur associant le tourisme, sous l’expression d’économie de l’enrichissement. Pour marquer la spécificité d’une forme de capitalisme qui tire parti des quatre formes de mise en valeur que nous avons dégagées, nous proposons de parler de capitalisme intégral

Qingzhi Huan (Jinan, CN): Socialist Eco-Civilization as a Transformative Politics

Keynote at 1.30–2 p.m. // Lecture Hall 2

Qingzhi Huan is Professor of Comparative Political Science at the Research Institute of Marxism, Beijing University, and School of Political Science and Public Administration, Shandong University, China. Main areas of work: Environmental Policy, European Policy and Leftist Politics

Rereading Polanyi: Emancipatory Politics of Nature & Property

Forum event (›Fields of Transformation‹) at 3 – 5.30 p.m. // Großer Rosensaal, Fürstengraben 27

Organised by: Research Group ›Social Theory and Social Philosophy‹, Max-Weber-Kolleg (Erfurt)

The abstract of the event will follow shortly.

  • Arthur Bueno (Frankfurt am Main): Fetishes or Fictions? Re-reading Polanyi with Marx
  • Markus Döller (Erfurt): Transformation of the Market in Marx and Polanyi
  • Petra Gümplova (Erfurt): Reinventing Sovereignty over Natural Resources: the case of the Yasuní ITT Initiative
  • Christoph Henning (Erfurt): Eco-Socialist Transformation? Rereading Polanyi’s early work
  • Markus Schulz (New York, US / Erfurt): Anticipative Sociology, Utopian Energies, and Postgrowth Futures

Lecture abstracts by the speakers [pdf, 2 mb] de

Alternatives in a world of crisis

Alternatives in a World of Crisis Alternatives in a World of Crisis Image:

Book presentation at 6–7.30 p.m. // Kleiner Rosensaal, Fürstengraben 27, 07743 Jena

Editors: Global Working Group Beyond Development: Miriam Lang, Claus-Dieter König, Ada-Charlotte Regelmann

Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels April 2018

Organised by: Ulrich Brand (Wien, AT), Miriam Lang (Quito, EC)

Our world is facing a multidimensional crisis arising from the very civilizational foundations that capitalist modernity is built on: economic growth, instrumental and destructive societal relations with Nature, a blind belief in science and technology and a rational, profit-maximizing, and individualistic understanding of humanity. These bases have not only produced a specific set of problems, including an unprecedented level of ecological destruction. They also shape the possible solutions that are envisioned and often only aggravate the status quo.

Since World War II, the narrative of development has been a very effective instrument in expanding capitalist and patriarchal/masculinist social and economic relations into the postcolonial world. In the name of development and modernization, a broad variety of other modes of being in the world and understanding it have been labeled as poor, backward, and obsolete. Seeking alternatives beyond development therefore means seeking alternatives beyond this civilization that has led us into this crisis, on a path that the postdevelopment perspective shares with the degrowth perspective.

This book, which is the result of a group effort, intends to contribute to the urgently needed collective inquiries taking into view new theoretical and political paradigms of social transformation. In six case studies from all over the world and one concluding chapter, it seeks to address simultaneously the complex relations between class, race, coloniality, gender, and Nature, as it is precisely their historical entanglements and interdependencies that configure the civilizational bases of the system we face.

Comments by: Ariel Salleh (Sydney, AU), Stephan Lessenich (München)

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