Call for papers: the politics of identity 

This is such an interesting call for papers, co-edited by one of the new early career organisers at The Sociological Review:


Call for Abstracts for Special Issue

Historical Materialism Journal

Historical Materialism Journal is seeking contributions for a Special Issue on “The Politics of Identity”


Ashok Kumar (QMUL)

Shruti Iyer (KCL)

Dalia Gebrial (Oxford)

Ash Sarkar (UCL)

Adam Elliott-Cooper (Oxford)

The charged phrase “identity politics” has come to encompass a range of ideas and activities under the rubric of either broadening, or developing alternatives to, class-centric analyses of power. Criticisms of identity politics have historically been narrow and economistic, with the tension being framed thus far as a cleavage between the class reductionism of vulgar Marxism and the individualism of vulgar culturalism. This special issue positions itself as an intervention into conversations within Marxist traditions.The term “identity politics” has often carried pejorative connotations, and many prefer to identify with “liberation politics”. 

Identity/liberation politics has allowed for self-organisation, and this played a critical role in carving out spaces for movements of colour, in anti-colonial revolutions, feminist struggles, and in queer liberation movements. These spaces have also been places where the intersecting, mutually reinforcing nature of these identity categories have been theorised. The moment at which we are making this intervention is one in which the rhetoric of “safe spaces”, “privilege”, and positionality politics permeates liberatory discourse and social movements – the question is now one of usefulness and their radical potential.

While these approaches have built new avenues into revolutionary politics and self-determination, emphasizing an understanding of oppressions as social relations, they have also been charged with reducing collective struggles to individualism and essentialism. These pitfalls erode the possibility of solidaristic links and hinder the broader aim of movement building. Further, identity politics has been accused of reproducing the power of capital and the state, and reinforcing the very categories they ostensibly seek to dismantle.

Some of the questions we are concerned with include (but are not limited to): Why has identity politics become so appealing amongst self-understood radical circles? What are the social, political and historical processes behind identity politics being co-opted by neoliberal and statist discourses, while simultaneously providing multiple avenues into revolutionary politics? Does identity-based organising have any radical capacity, and is there a way in which it can be mobilised to generate solidarity and resistance? How have feminist, queer and anti-racist movements moved away from the goal of the abolition of race and gender, and turned to social mobility? What might the abolition of identitarian categories of oppression look like as an emancipatory project? What does it mean for class to be mobilised as an identity? What is the relationship between intersectionality and identity politics? In what ways do resistance to identity-based oppressions coalesce with struggles against the hegemony of the capitalist state?

In particular, we encourage contributors to engage with Marxist traditions from multiple standpoints, while complicating what it is that is conceptualised as ‘identity’ itself. What does it mean for a movement to be labelled as “identity politics”? Does working class identity being racialised as white, and gendered as male, shield it from the critiques commonly made of identity politics as sectarian and divisive? Can we accurately describe union meetings a ‘safe space’ from the bosses? Why have subaltern struggles been largely seen as identity-based, and the material bases of their resistance under-emphasised? And finally, how might the traditional left’s dismissal of particular movements as ‘identity politics’ act as a form of self-preservation?

Areas of interests include (but not limited to):

· Identity Politics versus a Politics of Liberation

· Praxis of Solidarity and Identity Politics

· Radical Critiques of Intersectionality

· Identity Politics As/Against Neoliberalism

· Identity Politics and Radical Social Movements

· Identity Politics, Capital and Empire

· Performativity in areas of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Gender Identity

· Privilege Politics and Solidarity

· Radical Critiques of Cultural Appropriation

· Safer Spaces and the Politics of Comfort

· Identity Politics, Innocence and the Carceral State

· Critiques of Personhood Trauma Politics

· Recovering Subaltern Studies as Anti-Capitalist Resistance

· Transnational Gentrification Discourses

· Victimhood, Security and the State

· Micoaggressions and Social Relations

· Trigger Warnings, Trauma, and the State

· Queer theory, capitalism, & the couple form

· Homonationalism

– Anti-Muslim Racism

· Reparations & class-based demands

· Europeanness & economic crisis

· Whiteness, white fragility and European fascism

· Anti-colonial struggles and Identity Politics

We propose a special issue on The Politics of Identity that will be rigorous, grounded, and contributes to theory and praxis, and encourage papers that make theoretical contributions both within and outside the European tradition. We acknowledge that academia has traditionally excluded voices from the margins and encourage submissions in forms of writing both within and outside white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words submitted by email to hm[dot]identitypolitics[at]gmail[dot]com by April 20th, 2016.

Once accepted paper contributions will have a target maximum length of 5,000 words (inclusive of endnotes, figures, references, etc.).

For any queries about the Special Issue or the abstract submission process contact: hm[dot]identitypolitics[at]gmail[dot]com.