Rethinking Gramsci: Hegemonic Trajectories, Subalternity, Emergent Political Agencies and the Decline of the Intellectual
Day two (25 May):
From 9am-5pm Conference Talks
Few thinkers enjoy as much posthumous notoriety as Antonio Gramsci. Due to their originality and versatility, his concepts have had an extraordinary afterlife, exerting a profound influence in fields as diverse as late critical theory, post-Marxism, subaltern studies, cultural studies, postcolonialism, and intellectual history. As a theorist of revolution, he developed a unique approach, capable of apprehending the dynamic interrelations between State and civil society; coercion and consent; domination and hegemony; traditional and organic intellectuals; and subaltern and ruling classes. These contributions went a long way toward overcoming the rigidity of the orthodox Marxist formulations of the Second International and setting the theoretical foundations for what is today known as Western Marxism. Furthermore, they have been taken up in a variety of contemporary disciplines and social movements to confront power struggles in today’s world. In short, key Gramscian concepts like hegemony have achieved a hegemonic status on a global level within both popular and intellectual spheres of influence, together with other concepts like subalternity and organic public intellectuals. To what degree, though, has his thought been enriched or, conversely, compromised by being appropriation and mobilized by so many different actors in some many different political and cultural contexts? To what degree are his theories compatible, for example, with the intellectual traditions of liberalism, which Gramsci sacrificed so much to oppose? What does Gramsci say to us in our present context of counter-revolution and neoliberal triumphalism? Similarly, how are we to reconcile Gramsci’s privileging of the public function of the intellectual in a context of stark anti-intellectualism? How are we to appropriate Gramscian categories for our own purposes while honoring his intellectual project, that is, how are we to avoid Gramscianism without Gramsci? Through the exploration of these and other inquiries, we invite you to rethink the legacy of Antonio Gramsci.