Critical Political Economy for a new Global Political Economy

 CPERN mid-term workshop – Call for Papers (deadline 28 February 2022).

Friday 22– Saturday 23 July 2022

University of Limerick, Ireland

The Global Political Economy is now described, depending on who describes it, as “over-stimulated”, “scarred”, “squeezed”, “unsustainable”, or “jammed up”. Commentators routinely cite the threat of stagflation. The (post-)pandemic recovery is considered “K-shaped”, with assets inflated, to the benefit of asset holders, whilst livelihoods are (further) degraded. Governments have so far failed to put in place a global Green New Deal. The pandemic has exposed the recklessness of decades of austerity, commercialisation, and under-funding of our health and social care systems. While the populist zeitgeist seems to be waning, its successor on the horizon is yet more tepid neoliberal centrism that seeks only to deter those who hope for egalitarian alternatives. Likewise, within academia, efforts continue to sideline, discourage and, if possible, eliminate critical thinking and our ambitions for social change.

Yet, much of the mainstream analysis fails to explain why we face these problems, or how we are to address them. The ‘economy’ is conceptualised narrowly, ignoring the wider social and socio-natural relations that make up our complex and interconnected reality. Economics is considered only in terms of the production, distribution and exchange of commodities; concealing from view exploitation, alienation, extraction, sexed, gendered, and racialised forms of exclusion, and processes of ecological destruction, plus the contestation of each of these social bads. 

In contrast, those of us working (or trying to work) in critical political economy seek to conceptualise and explain the deep rooted inequalities, crisis tendencies and discursive diversions that mark our faltering global political economy. At the same time, we aspire to delineate the alternatives around which progressive social coalitions can (and should) coalesce, as part of our collective struggle to disrupt, ameliorate, transform and (hopefully) transcend the manifold pathologies that comprise contemporary global capitalism. 

We need a new Global Political Economy, and we need critical political economy to provide the intellectual, methodological, analytical and strategic tools through which to conceptualise, explain and critique the multiple crises we face. We invite scholars and activists from across the field of critical political economy to contribute to the next CPERN mid-term workshop, where we seek a Critical Political Economy for a new Global Political Economy

We are especially keen for papers that address the following themes:

  • (Post-)pandemic possibilities. How has our global political economy changed as a result of the pandemic? What are the (new) inequalities, uncertainties and crises that have been generated? To what extent, and why, is public policy (un)able to respond to contemporary social and democratic demands? What, if any, are the (new) opportunities for progressive social change?

  • Build Back Better? The role and the changing nature of the state, and its theorisation, in the post-pandemic recovery. How do we conceptualise the (capitalist) state as it developed and changed over the course of the pandemic?

  • Alternatives and resistance. How, if at all, has the capacity for collective resistance and everyday struggles changed during the pandemic? How, if at all, can social struggle, resistance, and/or social movements play a part in shaping the post-pandemic future?

  • Global production after the pandemic? Jammed up and ready for replacement? How have global production and trade relations changed as a result of the need (but failure to) adjust to the pandemic conditions?

  • Labour after COVID 19. Are we witnessing instances of a “refusal of work”? How can we conceptualise the return of strikes and labour militancy? Has the pandemic opened a new era of grassroots labour organising?

  • (De-)development, dependency and neo-colonialism, before and after the pandemic. How are the divisions, and relations, between the Global North and South affected and changing through the pandemic?

  • Intersectional struggles of capital and labour. How do (changing) struggles, expressed along class, race, sex, and gendered lines, intersect with each other, and within the global political economy?

  • Culture, meaning, identities and alternative imaginaries. How have our cultural understandings and imaginaries of the global political economy changed and developed in a context of lockdowns and social, economic and ecological crisis?

  • Social reproduction. How do we understand social reproduction in the context and (eventual) aftermath of the pandemic? How, if at all, is social reproduction secured in the current state of the global political economy; how are classed, sexed, raced and gendered inequalities manifest in it; and how does critical political economy understand and contribute to the above?

  • Eco-socialism after Covid-19 and COP26. Was the pandemic the most vivid illustration of nature ‘striking back’? If so, what can and should we do about it? What lessons can be drawn regarding human (mis)management of the human-nature relationship through a critical political economy lens? How can this lens help us envision and assess transformative alternatives, ranging from a Green New Deal to a postcapitalist future of de-growth and/or eco-socialism?

  • The critical political economy of geo-politics and militarism. The geo-political tensions that continue to destabilise our world are often neglected by political economy analyses, among other. Yet capitalism and geo-political rivalries are interconnected and require a critical political economy analysis. 

We are interested in all of the above, and more, and wish for the workshop to cover a wide range of topics. We welcome scholars and activists with an interest in critical political economy, from a variety of countries, social backgrounds, and disciplinary affiliations, regardless of whether they are in academia or not. We are particularly committed to promoting the participation of PhD students, early career scholars, and activists. Limited funds will be available for scholars and activists in precarious situations (who cannot get other sources of funding) to support travel and accommodation costs. Please inform us if you may require help with funding when you send us your abstract.

The workshop is planned for in-person attendance, as far as that is possible. If you are unable to attend in-person, let us know and we will try to facilitate online-only sessions to run alongside the workshop agenda.

As a result of our links to the new journal Global Political Economy we also welcome, and will gladly facilitate, panel submissions where the intention is for the panel to result in a special issue proposal for the journal

We will be able to provide workshop invitation letters for those needing a visa.

There is no fee for attending the workshop. The conference language will be English.

Abstracts of around 250 words should be submitted to: cpern@criticalpoliticaleconomy.net by 28 February 2022.

Many thanks,

The CPERN Board

David Bailey, Bernd Bonfert, Alona Lyasheva, Owen Worth, Yuliya Yurchenko

The Critical Political Economy Research Network is Research Network 06 of the European Sociological Association.