What is the relevance of materialism for thinking the political? Throughout modernity, materialism has been associated with fatalism, naturalism, heresy, and linked to radical ideas such as republicanism and democracy.

Despite never having claimed to be a materialist himself, Spinoza early on became associated with materialism, and the highly controversial, even condemned and censored central tenets of his philosophy came to be seen as evidence of a clandestinely held materialism, making Spinoza an emblem of the subversive alliance between materialism and democracy.

The revolutionary effects of eighteenth-century French materialism have been widely discussed since the French Revolution and throughout the nineteenth century. The works of Marx and Engels further aligned materialism with progressive politics, anchoring political liberation in concrete social practices. As materialist politics rejects the concept of the subject as a point of departure for social analysis, it draws onthe very materiality of social relationsin order to reflect on collective reality. If humankind is the product of socio-historical circumstances, the political task, for Marx, became one of inquiring into and transforming its environment.

The past decades have revived the attention given to materialism and its affiliation with a progressive agenda. At the same time, neoliberalism emerges and poses a challenge to the foundations of citizenship as it expands its control over the materiality of social reproduction, the materialities underlying the reproduction processes of capitalist domination. Neoliberalism actively shapes society and strengthens social logics of exclusion in order to create a growing number of ‘sub-citizens’ or even ‘non-citizens’ subjected to new and more aggressive forms of exploitation and dispossession. To what extent can materialism counteract this neoliberal turn, and what are the available resources for a renewal of radical materialism that can energize the contemporary progressive agenda?

In English

Chiara Bottici
Alex Demirović
Katja Diefenbach
Mariana Gainza
Ericka Itokazu
Cornelia Möser
Catherine Perret
et al

Organized by

An event of the Centre Marc Bloch organized by Bernardo Bianchi, Émilie Filion-Donato, Marlon Miguel, and Ayse Yuva, in cooperation with the ICI Berlin, the FU Berlin, and the TU Berlin


Please note that the first two days of the conference will take place at Centre Marc Bloch, the last day at ICI Berlin.

24 – 25 Apr 2019
Centre Marc Bloch
Friedrichstraße 191, 10117 Berlin
7th floor, Germaine-Tillion-Saal

26 Apr 2019
ICI Berlin
Lecture hall

KV Politics Materialism

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.