Mayday School 2016: “Religion and capitalism”
By the Institute for Labour Studies (ILS)
Time: April 27th – April 30th
Location: Stara mestna elektrarna – Elektro Ljubljana, Slomškova 18, Ljubljana
Call for Participants
In spring, an annual ILS international conference called the “Mayday School” will take place in Ljubljana. We would like to inform you that we are offering grants for discussants at this years’ May day school. Full costs of the conference attendance for the grant recipients will be covered by the ILS.
The concept of the event:
The self-understanding of leftist, emancipatory project(s) is still largely determined by the blueprint, drawn somewhere at the outset of modernity, in early 19th century. The general political direction where ‘emancipation’ was to be found and the form it should possess, seemed comparatively clearer than today: a rebellion against any given transcendent authority with the final goal of maximal autonomy of everyone. Abolishment of religious, political, and finally economic domination could all appear as parts of a single, straightforward trajectory of modernity.
Today, it is obvious that this ancient blueprint of left politics includes many blind spots and points of tension – with religion being one of the most prominent: For traditional left, religion (particularly organised religion) was an adversary, but an adversary in decline, adversary, who had already been dealt a decisive blow by the movement of capitalism itself, where, famously: “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”
A list of contemporary phenomena which challenge this ‘traditional left’ outlook is long: the trend of secularisation hasn’t quite captured the globe with the same inevitabilty as capitalism did – indeed in many places, an opposite tendency is apparent; within theoretical sphere, the diagnosis of ‘postsecularity’ has been widespread; there has been a noticeable tendency of interweaving a secular authority with religious discourses and movements in some of the world’s major powers (USA, India, China); and, particularly confounding, a prominent religiosity of many antisystemic movements and rebellions, that are arising particularly at the margins of aggressive expansions of western capitalism (Islam being the most prominent in this respect recently).
On the other hand, as religion didn’t disappear from contemporary public discourse, neither did a fervent anti-religious critique – except that now, a political import of the latter is much more ambiguous. A warriors of ‘New Atheism’, for example, have been quite openly serving as legitimators of western imperialist projects, and, in Europe, references to secularism and enlightenment tradition have been increasingly appearing on right side of political spectrum, as a thin veil over anti-islamic racism.
This year’s Mayday school will therefore reopen the questions of religion, critique of religion, its role and pertinence in contemporary society, its interaction with capitalism and critique thereof. We will attempt to cover a range of topics and questions at various levels of abstraction: from general rethinking of relation between capitalism and religions as two principles of organisation of society, in their conflicts and affinities, to the attempts to confront the more manifest and pressing contemporary issues, such as tension between feminism and religious upsurge, or the precise role of Islamic religion in the structure of conflict(s) in the Middle East.
One of the prerequisites for appropriately tackling these challenging questions is that the public includes competent guests who are willing to actively engage in discussions. Consequently, we are accepting submissions from individuals from ex-Yugoslav countries who would like to participate at the Mayday school as discussants.
Note that only individuals from ex-Yugoslav countries (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro) are eligible to apply.
Our particular interest in ex-Yugoslavia is a consequence of a peculiar political situation in the region. During last decade, the neo-liberal policies have been imposed, aggravating the marginalization of this region and its social disintegration at many levels. The trend of retraditionalization of public and private life also cannot be overlooked. These tendencies are not only directed against the common multi-ethnic life, but also against the emancipation of women and sexual minorities. The young generation has no experience of multiethnic co-existence from the days of socialist Yugoslavia.
In such a complex situation, the ILS focuses on cooperation with groups and individuals from ex-Yugoslavian countries. We aim to contribute to the creation of networks of left-wing initiatives and organizations beyond national borders and ideological trenches. At the same time, we want to open a space for critical scientific discussions and elaboration of new political practices that could meet the challenges of contemporary world.
The submission should include:
2) a brief biography
3) a short motivational letter
4) possible relevant theoretical references and/or work/activism experience
Due to budget limitations, we will only accept 20 submissions. The submissions will be either accepted or declined by the ILS programme committee, according to the three main criteria: theoretical references, political references, and interest in, or engagement with the critique of political economy in general and/or in the problematic of religion-related issues in particular.
The deadline for submissions is 25th of March, 2016. Submissions should be sent to
The applicants will be informed whether their submission was accepted or not till 31th of March by email.
For the 20 recipients of the grants, ILS will cover the whole costs for participation at the conference, including the costs of travel, accommodation and three daily meals.
Note that the grant recipients are expected to attend all the lectures, panels and workshops at the Mayday school and actively engage in the discussions.