The Main Speakers

Session 1 (08/10/2014): Bringing Capitalism Back In. Social Movements in Times of Austerity

Donatella della Porta is professor of Sociology in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute, where she directs the centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) and Director of Political science at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane. She is now working at major ERC project Mobilizing for Democracy, on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Mattei Dogan Prize for distinguished achievements in the field of political sociology. Her main fields of research are social movements, the policing of public order, participatory democracy and political corruption. Among her very recent publications are: Can Democracy be Saved? (Polity, 2013), Clandestine Political Violence (Cambridge 2013). (

Abstract: Recent years have seen an enormous increase in protests across the world in which citizens have challenged what they see as a deterioration of democratic institutions and the very civil, political and social rights that form the basis of democratic life. Beginning with Iceland in 2008, and then forcefully in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece and Portugal, or more recently in Peru, Brazil, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Ukraine, people have taken to the streets against what they perceive as a rampant and dangerous corruption of democracy, with a distinct focus on inequality and suffering.

Donatella della Porta addresses the anti-austerity social movements of which these protests form part, mobilizing in the context of a crisis of neoliberalism. She shows that, in order to understand their main facets in terms of social basis, strategy, and identity and organizational structures, we should look at the specific characteristics of the socioeconomic, cultural and political context in which they developed.


Session 2 (28/10/2014): Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal

Andrew Ross is a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at the New York University; Director, American Studies (interim). His areas of interests are labor and work; urban and suburban studies; intellectual history; social and political theory; science; ecology and technology; cultural studies. Among his numerous publications and books we can highlight: Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal (OR Books, 2014), The Exorcist and the Machines (Kassel, Documenta, 2012), Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City (Oxford University Press, 2011).Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times (NYU Press, 2009). (

Abstract: We now live in a creditocracy–a society where almost everyone is deeply in debt that cannot ever be repaid, and where elected officials cannot check the power of the creditor class. Whether or not this represents a new stage of capitalism, it is an unsustainable condition, and requires a debtors movement to change it. In this presentation, I will analyze the chief components of the debt trap, and present arguments for the legitimate refusal of household debts that have been incurred to access vital social goods.

Session 3 (12/11/2014): Making a Case for a Marxist Revival in Social Movement Studies

Colin Barker (Metropolitan University of Manchester) is a British sociologists, Marxist historian, activist and former long-standing member of the Socialist Workers Party in Manchester. He was a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University from 1967 to 2002 and an organizer of International Conference on Alternative Futures and Popular Protest. Barker was a member of the International Socialism Group in Oxford and Manchester from 1962. He is author of numerous articles and works on Marxism. Among his books he wrote a history of the Polish trade union movement Solidarity, Festival of the Oppressed (1986), The Power Game (Pluto Press 1972) and most recently co-edited book Marxism in Social Movements (Leiden:Brill 2013).(


Session 4 (3/12/2014): A “Gramscian Moment?” Can Gramsci Help Us to Understand Contemporary Society, its Crises, and Transformations?

Richard Bellamy took up the Directorship of the Max Weber Programme on the 1st of May 2014, on exceptional leave from his position as Professor of Political Science at University College, London (UCL). Richard was educated at the University of Cambridge and the European University Institute in Florence. After three years as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford he went on to lectureships at Cambridge and Edinburgh and then to Chairs at the Universities of East Anglia, Reading, Essex and UCL. At UCL he was the founding Head of the new Department of Political Science and Director of the School of Public Policy from 2005- 2010 and of UCL’s European Institute, which he established, from 2010-2013.


Session 5 (29 January 2015): Class Struggle in the Italian Critical Marxism. Situating an Anti-capitalist Perspective of Social Movements in Theory and Practice

Antonio (Toni) Negri is a marxist sociologist and philosopher. In the beginning of the Sixties, he collaborated to Quaderni rossi (Red Notebooks), cultural laboratory at the origin of the ’68. In 1964 he published Stato e diritto nel giovane Hegel and obtained the chair of Dottrina dello Stato (State Theory) at the Padua University. He has been among the founders of the radical leftist group Potere Operaio (Workers Power) and the leader of Autonomia operaia (Workers Autonomy). He had a rough political and intellectual path, from Potere Operaio to the comdamnation for his political positions and the move to France. Among his books, Commonwealth (Harvard University Press 2009) closes the influential trilogy started with Empire (2002) and Multitude (2004), all written with Michael Hardt. In 2008 he collected in volumes the seminars held at the Collège International de Philosophie of Paris (Fabbrica di Porcellana-The Porcelain Workshop, Feltrinelli).

Abstract: Widely known to be one of the founding fathers of the so-called autonomist Marxism, Prof. Antonio Negri will elaborate on the way in which he has conceptualised the notions of labor, social struggle, and class movement within contemporary capitalist society in the light of his Marxist framework. To this regard, he will discuss some of his most compelling and debated concepts such as mass worker, social worker (“operaio sociale”), multitude, exodus, common/commonwealth, among many others. These concepts are part of one of the most powerful attempts to rethink the political project of critical theory today and to reformulate a Marxist tool-kit in contemporary post-industrial societies. The lecture that Prof Negri will give at EUI will be also a good opportunity to open up the discussion on whether and how some of these concepts may be used to enrich the current field of social movement studies.


Session 6 (08/04/2015): Theory and Practice of the Unionisation of the Self Employed in Europe and in the U.S

Sergio Bologna (independent) has taught in various universities in Italy and Germany. He has worked on the history of the labor movement; he participated in the founding of magazines such as “working-class” and “May Day.” Expelled from the University, has chosen to make the consultant and in this capacity he was coordinator of the freight of the General Plan of Transportation and Logistics (1998-2000), a member of the Scientific Committee for the National Logistics Plan (2010-2012) and an expert on the CNEL problems maritime-port. From his publications: Il lavoro autonomo di seconda generazione (1997), Ceti medi senza futuro?(Derive Approdi, 2007) e Vita da freelance. I lavoratori della conoscenza e il loro futuro (with Dario Banfi, 2011).

 Abstract: Sergio Bologna will describe the freelancers’ movement focusing on five different aspects: the emergence of a self-consciousness, the different categories of freelancers, the distinctions between freelancers and other workers, the evolution of independent work in the last 40 years, and the unionization processes of freelancers’ in Europe and the U.S..

Session 7 (22/04/2015): From Social Struggles to Political Institutions? Processes of Institutionalization and Transformation of Social Movements between the Latin American and the European Experience

Prof. Sandro Mezzadra is a professor of University of Bologna where he teaches Theory and adjunct fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society of the University of Western Sidney. His areas of research are political thought and migration, xxx. Among his many books and publications we can include: Dirito di fuga. Migrazioni, cittadinanza, globalizzazione (2006), La Condizione postcoloniale. Storia e politica nel presente globale (2008) and Borders as a Method or the Multiplication of Labor co-edited with Brett Nielson (2013). He is editor of Marx, Antologia degli scritti politici (2002). (


Session 8 (06/05/2015): Feminization of labor: Feminist theories and forms of resistance

Brunella Casalini is a professor of Philosophy at University of Florence where she teaches Political Philosophy and Theories of Justice and Social Design. Her research focuses on theories of gender, disability studies, ethics of care, theory of justice and social politics. Among her recent publication we can highlight: Il ritorno della biologia nelle teorie femministe contemporanee (2014), with Lorenzo Cini Giustizia, uguaglianza e differenza. Una guida alla lettura della filosofia politica contemporanea (2012), Rischi del Materno. Pensiero politico femminile e critica del patriacalismo tra sette e ottocento (2004). (

Abstract: The paper is divided into three parts. The first part answers to two very general questions: What do we mean by “feminization of labor”? What is the relationship between the idea of “feminization of labor” and the normative project of the so-called “womenomics”? The first part of the paper is going to offer a  map of the wide semantic field covered by the expression “feminization of labor”. It is going to show also its critical stance toward neoliberal “womenomics” or what is also called by its critics “translational business feminism” (Roberts). In post-Marxist theories of cognitive capitalism, the concept of “affective labor”, as part of the more general category of “immaterial labor”, is often used to describe the characteristics of the new feminized labor market. The second part of this paper aims to show the limits of the categories of “immaterial labor” and “affective labor”. Indeed, many feminists have criticized these categories in so far as they are unable to describe a large and fundamental part of female labor in contemporary society, whose very nature is thoroughly material. Moreover, if, as Angela McRobbie has suggested, we consider the specific female subjectivities produced by neoliberalism we can see that the apparently gender fluid character of the ‘feminized labor market’ has only re-written the “sexual contract” without really debunking it. In the third part of the paper we go back to the Marxist feminist theory of housewifization and of woman as the last colony, coined by Maria Mies, Veronica Bennholdt-Thomsen e Claudia von Werlhof. We hope this move will help us in better understanding what is on the other side of the contemporary knowledge economy. It will help us to  complete the complex picture of women’s role in the labor market, and to understand how enclaves of feminity are created and recreated as a source of new profit and a terrain of new inequalities. Maria Mies’s theory is today shared by postcolonial feminism and Marxist feminists such as Federici and Hartsock. This strand of feminism that follows and develops Rosa Luxemburg’s legacy elaborates the Marxian idea of primitive accumulation in a manner that is close to David Harvey’s conception of accumulation by dispossession.  Both theories of cognitive capitalism and feminist-Marxists put their hope in the idea of the commons. They give to the meanings of the commons very different interpretations – as we will see -, but they nevertheless consider it as an alternative to both the private and the state. Can the commons be an effective solution to the present unjustices in a gender perspective? In the conclusion, we are going to raise some quandaries


Session 10 (22/05/2015): Taking Crisis Seriously: Capitalism on its Way Out. 

Wolfang Streeck (Max Plank Institute) is well-known scholar, author of many books and articles in political economy and sociology on historical institutionalism, varieties of capitalism, institutional change. Director of Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne and Professor of Sociology in University of Köln. From a long list of publications we can name the 2009 book, Re-Forming Capitalism: Institutional Change in the German Political Economy and book co-edited wit Thelen Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies. The latest books dedicated to economic crises are: Gekaufte Zeit: Die vertagte Krise des demokratischen Kapitalismus. The English translation, under the title Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism and edited volume Politics in the Age of Austerity. (


Session 10 (03/06/2015): Marxist Political Economy and Social Movements: Bridging a Theoretical (and Political) Gap

Emiliano Brancaccio (Università del Sannio) is researcher in Economy and Bases for Political Economy and Economy of Labor at the University of Sannio. He has published in numerous peer review journals among them: Cambridge Journal of Economics, Review of Political Economy, International Journal of Political Economy, European Journal of Economic and Social Systems, History of Economic Ideas. Emiliano published several monographic and edited volumes with Palgrave, Macmillan, Routledge or Feltrinelli among others. (


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