Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg: Five More Sessions

This series is based on the new Rowan and Littlefield volume edited by Drucilla Cornell and Jane Anna Gordon. All participating session leaders are contributors to the forthcoming, Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg, which will be available here:

Rosa Luxemburg is unquestionably the most important historical European woman Marxist theorist. Significantly, for the purpose of creolizing the canon, she considered her continent and the globe from an Eastern Europe that was in constant flux and turmoil. From this relatively peripheral location, she was far less parochial than many of her more centrally located interlocutors and peers. Indeed, Luxemburg’s work touched on all the burning issues of her time and ours, from analysis of concrete revolutionary struggles, such as those in Poland and Russia, to showing through her analysis of primitive accumulation that anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggles had to be intertwined, to considerations of state sovereignty, democracy, feminism, and racism. She thereby offered reflections that can usefully be taken up and reworked by writers facing continuous and new challenges to undo relations of exploitation through radical economic and social transformation. Luxemburg touches on all aspects of what constitutes revolution in her work; the authors of this volume show us that, by creolizing Luxemburg, we can open up new paths of understanding the complexities of revolution.

This six-part seminar series explores some of her signal contributions—her argument that imperialism and primitive accumulation are endemic to capitalism; her prescient attention to racist super-exploitation in southern Africa; her insistence that socialism had to be created in and through the widest form of participatory democracy, including the mass strike; her reflections, with attention to the other-than-human world and incarceration, on transformative subjectivities—through putting them in conversation with Global Southern thinkers past and present.

Debating Revolutionary Nationalism

Peter Hudis, Oakton Community College; Drucilla Cornell, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University; Alyssa Adamson, Malcolm X College
April 17th, 2-4 pm USA DST / 6-8pm GMT

The second session will critically revisit debates over the potential revolutionary value of nationalism through exploring different stages of the Global Southern reception of Rosa’s thoroughgoing internationalism.

Revolutionary Subjects

Robin D.G. Kelley, UCLA; Jane Anna Gordon, University of Connecticut; Gunnett Kaaf, Marxist activist and a writer based in Bloemfontein, South Africa; Maria Theresa Starzmann,  Vera Institute of Justice
April 24th, 2-4 pm USA DST / 6-8pm GMT

The third session explores what it means to act as a revolutionary subject through analysis of Walter Rodney’s ambivalence about Rosa’s criticisms of revolutionary Russia, critical consideration of Rosa’s writings on slave resistance, indispensability for contemporary progressive politics in South Africa, and turn to the other-than-human world to counteract the political violence of incarceration.

The Mass Strike, Past and Present

Rafael Khachaturian, University of Pennsylvania; Sami Zemni, Ghent University; Josué Ricardo López, University of Pittsburgh
May 1st, 2-4 pm USA DST / 6-8pm GMT

Often misread as a narrowly economic phenomenon, Rosa understood general or mass strikes as harbingers of the revolution to come. The speakers in this fourth session reposition her analysis in the contexts of the United States Civil War, the Arab Spring, and the twenty-first century migrations northward through the American hemisphere.

Reconsidering Primitive Accumulation

Robert Nichols, University of Minnesota; Patrick Bond, University of the Western Cape; Ahmed Veriava, University of Witwatersrand; Siddhant Issar, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Rachel H. Brown, Washington University in St. Louis, and John McMahon, SUNY Plattsburgh; Ankica Čakardić, University of Zagreb
May 8th, noon – 2 pm and 2:30 -4:30 pm USA DST / 6-8p.m. and 8:30 -10:30 pm GMT

This two-part fifth session is devoted to engaging with Rosa’s pivotal reworking of the concept of primitive accumulation, with attention to historical and contemporary South Africa, medieval European race-making and its legacies, and contemporary commodification of women’s reproductive labor.

Unfinished Conversations among Revolutionary Women

Nigel C. Gibson, Emerson College; Paget Henry, Brown University; LaRose T. Parris, Lehman College of the City University of New York
May 15th, 2-4 pm USA DST / 6-8pm GMT

Session Six stages conversations between Rosa and other revolutionary women with whom she could not have spoken, including Raya Dunayevskaya, Sylvia Wynter, Claudia Jones, and Lorraine Hansberry.

Except for May 8th where there is a two-part presentation, this series will take place on Saturdays, 2 to 4 pm. Please note the times for May 8th as beginning at 12 noon with a second session at 2:30 pm.

All events are sliding scale. No one is denied admission because of inability to pay. Please write to get information on attending this series or any other event or class at The Marxist Education Project.


Single event tickets will be on sale starting March 24