Month: February 2011

Humanitas Visiting Professor in Women’s Rights 2011

Professor Nancy Fraser (Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, The New School for Social Research, New York)

Lecture 1: ‘A Polanyian Feminism? Re-reading The Great Transformation in the 21st Century’ (5-6.30pm, 8 March 2011)

Karl Polanyi’s 1944 book ‘The Great Transformation’ rejected economism and instead analysed the previous crisis of capitalism as a crisis of social reproduction. He traced the roots of crisi…s to what he called the “fictitious commodification” of labour, land and money and diagnosed the tendency of a “free market society” to undermine the shared understandings that underpin social life. In his view, 19th-century efforts to create such a society proved so destructive of livelihoods, communities, and habitats as to trigger a century-long struggle between free-marketeers and those who sought to protect society from the ravages of the market. The end result of this “double movement” (marketisation versus social protection) was economic depression, political stalemate, and world war.

In the first lecture, Professor Nancy Fraser will reread ‘The Great Transformation’ from a feminist perspective, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of its signature concepts. Although it was developed for an earlier era, Polanyi’s diagnosis is, Professor Nancy Fraser will argue, highly relevant today as today’s crisis is not merely economic but also encompasses social reproduction and thus can be fruitfully analysed as a “great transformation,” in which a new round of efforts to commodify nature, labour, and money is sparking a new round of struggles. The following lectures and symposium will build upon this to create a Polanyian-feminist framework for theorising capitalist crisis in the 21st century.

Further lectures in the series are:

‘The Wages of Care: Reproductive Labour as Fictitious Commodity’
Wednesday, 9 Mar 2011

‘Between Marketisation and Social Protection: Ambivalences of Feminism in the Context of Capitalist Crisis’
Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011

A symposium will take place on Thursday 17 March.

For more information, please see

Not that important

The Garrick Club, the exclusive and beautiful nest which fosters and cares for the best artistic and literary minds of England, has just severed its age-old bond with the Century Club, its American counterpart, over the fact that the Garrick still doesn’t allow women to be members. They are allowed on the premises, providing they are a guest of a member of the club. For the New York Association, such discrimination is too much too bear, and, after a bitter internal dispute, its members voted in favour of severing their relationship with the London Club. Members of the Garrick failed to comment on the event, except for one, who said the Century was “a crap club anyway“.

This event may seem insignificant ; after all, it just concerns a “bunch of old farts” who revel in their bastion of privileges, as a member of the Club said in 1992 when a controversial vote over the very problem took place. Continue reading

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