Two exciting new developments relating to C.L.R. James that I felt I ought to report here – firstly, the long awaited documentary Every Cook Can Govern: Documenting the life, impact & works of CLR James is nearly complete – with film showings and launches planned – this promises to help introduce a new generation to James’s work.
Secondly, there is a timely call for papers for a conference in New York entitled ‘C.L.R. James Now!’ which promises to try and theorise the relevance of James’s work for questions of race, resistance and revolution in the 21st century – which looks a great initiative:
Call for Papers: CLR James Now!
Cosponsored by the New York Metro American Studies Association (NYMASA) and the CUNY Institute for Research on the African Diaspora and Caribbean (IRADAC)
Location: The Segal Theater at the CUNY Graduate Center (New York, New York)
Date: Friday November 4th, 2016
CLR James’s life spanned almost the entire 20th century. He was part of Trotsky’s circle in Mexico in the 1930s and Stuart Hall’s in the 1970s. A fulcrum of leftist thought for the past fifty years, James was an influential advocate of social change from below. James was a product of the colonial process and an early resister of it, and he recognized that the Global South as a generator of political innovation rather than a container for received ideas. As a theorist of British imperialism and what has come to be called the Black Atlantic, James helps us reorient the geographic perspective of American Studies towards the Caribbean and expands what blackness can mean in the United States.
A novelist, playwright, theorist, sports writer, literary critic voracious reader, and polymath intellectual, James forces us to challenge the narrow boundaries of academic life on the one hand and resist the lure of sectarianism in political organizing on the other. In his embrace of cricket, he claims the cultural capital of the colonizer for the post-colonial subject. His critique of Soviet communism as “state capitalism” anticipated the emergence of China as a state-run free market, just as his fascination with the Haitian revolution theorized the inextricable connections between racialization and divide-and-conquer class politics that is a focus of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
What can CLR James tell us now?
We invite proposals for presentations on (but not limited to) the following topics:
Can every cook govern? Revolutionary possibilities past and present
CLR James and “friends”: overlaps, influences, and influenced: Trotsky, Gramsci, Luxemburg, Hall, Spivak, Said, Davis, Padmore, Dunayevskaya, James and Grace Lee Boggs, and more
James and his “enemies”: conflict, opposition, surveillance, suppression
James at the margins, James at the center, James in the black Atlantic
Migration, diaspora, deportation, flight
James’s critique of state socialism, from the USSR to Cuba to the Chinese Communist Party
James and the “studies”: postcolonial, (post)marxist, transnational, gender, sexuality
Please use the following Survey Monkey link to submit abstracts (250 words maximum) for the conference by May 15, 2016:
For any questions or concerns about the symposium or call, please email Justin Rogers-Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please help us advertise and create discussion for the symposium using the social media hashtag #CLRJamesNOW