Call for papers

Neoliberalism in the Americas: Brutal Experiments, Distressful Realities, and Conspicuous Contestations

Re-thinking the South in the North and the North in the South


Conference of the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory

January 23-25, 2019

Duke University

John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute

Keynote address: Vladimir Safatle (Universidade de São Paulo)

Neoliberalism, understood not only as an economic doctrine or political agenda, but also as a model for governing and managing economic, social, cultural and political life, has been imposing itself hegemonically as the only alternative for almost half a century now. Originally, this social configuration was shaped by an intimate relation that binds the entire Americas: the junta militar of Augusto Pinochet and the junta económica of Milton Friedman and his Chicago boys which together governed Chile since the coup in Santiago in 1973.

The aim was to foster and spread the economic mechanisms of artificially crafted markets to the entirety of social and individual life. With ultra-capitalist enterprises as the pattern for all spheres of life, the goal from the start was to give birth to a new subjectivity, to create a sui generis neoliberal human being, characterized by unlimited entrepreneurship allied with precarious life. The methods for such were established through the collusion of both public and private actors and institutions, and included mass imprisonment, torture, disappearance, among other forms of economic brutality, such as impoverishment of lower classes, wealth concentration at the top of an elite, and the dislocation of typical welfare policies to new forms of social policies centered on the notion of risk. However, neoliberalism has not been experienced equally across time, places and peoples. New forms of neoliberalism arise from the encounter of global transit of “universals”  with the daily experiences of those who live neoliberalism through social relations, institutions, markets, and cultural formations.

The idea that capitalism and neoliberalism are shaped in the headquarters of North America and Europe is a delusion. This contradicts many experiences that show the emergence of a political society that, from the margins, pushes to think and live beyond the current order. The global South, as an ideological construct, demands us to interrogate and reflect upon the ubiquitousness of neoliberalism.

The reconfiguration of the relationship between North and South that neoliberalism has provoked, where North and South transcends their physicality and becomes an experience is a place to start. This conference aims to facilitate this conversation, aiming to look beyond the territorial limits of the continent as well as to link the notion of Global South with an idea of the continent that transcends its geopolitical space. Diasporic movements, climate displacements, territorial dispossessions, relocations, segregation, and marginality are some of the effects that many populations in the United States experience as a result of structural processes that occur in a virtual center. These dislocated populations reorganize themselves in a so-called Global North that, far from responding to an imagined developed space, recreate the “precarity” of Southern locations. Further, the presence of a Global North is not circumscribed to the Northern hemisphere either. In Central and Latin America, for instance, this hegemonic center is recreated by economic and political elites that enact what would constitute a discourse and practice of a neoliberalism that problematizes and translocates the geo-economic notions of North and South. The conference aims to highlight processes of peripheralization of the center and centralization of the periphery.

The consequences of this system, hitherto restricted to confined geographical and social areas, are now felt throughout the continent as a whole. This conference invites contributions that develop a trans-American approach to examine neoliberalism in and from the Americas.

The conference welcomes contributions which pursue to establish a dialogue between a number of theoretical traditions which have sought to examine these concepts and realities from a critical standpoint, such as Latin American Marxism, Decolonial Studies, Subaltern Studies, Critical Theory, the black radical tradition, feminism, etc.

We invite graduate students, professor and researchers to submit their papers on topics including, but not limited to:

–    Neoliberalism in Central, Latin and North America and the Caribbean

–    Political Economy in the 21st Century

–    Race, gender and class struggle in the age of neoliberalism

–    Art and Culture in neoliberal times

New aesthetic articulations of the unspeakable violence of Neoliberalism in the Americas

–    Neoliberal temporalities

–    Digital capitalism and labor exploitation

–    The neoliberal physiognomy of violence

–    The shaping of urban neoliberal spaces

–    Subjectivity and neoliberal entrepreneurship

–    Elective affinities: Financialization and neoliberalization

–    Impact of Neoliberalism on space organization and land access and distribution

–   The work and legacy of Aníbal Quijano

–    Forms of resistance in neoliberal times

The Conference will also include the screening of the 2015 documentary Chicago boys, by Carola Fuentes and Rafael Valdeavellano, followed by a discussion with the directors.


Organizing committee: Bruna Della Torre (Universidade de São Paulo); Eduardo Altheman (Universidade de São Paulo); Giulia Ricco (Duke University); Jaime Acosta Gonzalez (Duke University); Mónica González García (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso); Ximena Martinez (University of Toronto).

Interested graduate students are required to send an email to including an abstract (max. 300 words) for a 20-minute presentation, along with a short CV (max. 2 pages):

DEADLINE EXTENDED: October 31st, 2018.

Selected applicants will be notified by email by November 10th.

Eight grants of US$ 250 are available to assist presenters. Please mention in your email if you wish to be considered for a travel bursary and if your participation is contingent upon receiving one.