Beyond the Ruins of Capitalism: Stolen Concepts, Deep Silences, Resurfaced Frictions

(Dubrovnik, Inter-University Centre, 25 – 29 May 2020 )


Course Directors:

Silvana Carotenuto, University of Naples “L’Orientale”

Lada Čale Feldman, University of Zagreb

Francesca Maria Gabrielli, University of Zagreb

Elissa Helms, Central European University

Nadia Jones-Gailani, Central European University

Sandra Prlenda, Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb

Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb

Durre S. Ahmed, Centre for the Study of Gender and Culture, Lahore


Course Description:

Before her death, feminist author and activist Kate Millet reflected upon her lifetime struggle with abject poverty as she was increasingly marginalized in the academy. Asking her readers, “who stole feminism?”, Millet voiced her anxieties that the feminist movement had been hijacked from within (1998). Her question continues to remain relevant today as we witness the growing oppression, silencing, and policing of those on the margins of academia (and beyond). The rise of attacks against ‘gender ideology’, particularly from the clerical edifice, demands a revisiting and rethinking of historical debates and contemporary engagements in feminist contributions across all disciplines. By highlighting poverty, urban deterioration, economic and ecological crises, the “ruins of capitalism” (Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, 2015) underscores the inability of capitalist society to protect its citizens and its cities. As national economic imperatives clash with the demands of globalized capital, we face the terrifying realities of late capitalism with the rise in viral pandemics, ecological destruction, warfare, or deindustrialization. Bearing witness to that, we would like to explore stolen concepts within feminist knowledge production, as well as the deep silences informed by the erasure of alternative genealogies of thought. By exploring the frictions in both traditions and epistemologies of feminist theory and engagement, can we reveal internal elements of epistemic violence as feminist fracture across identity and political lines?

The course intends to study such violence and, at the same time, to trace the elements of resistance and refusal of nihilism and self-destruction that seem to be haunting women everywhere, with an attention also to the postcolonial milieu, in terms of worldly migration, diasporic experience, disseminated exile and displacement. We would like to understand the imposed failures and, at the same time, to intersect the theories and practices of feminism engagement that value ‘optimistic’, affirmative, productive, theoretical, communal, and political new framings of life. In this sense, our focus will go to the counter-capitalist assemblages, the open-ended gatherings of potential herstories, the multiple and productive social and cultural rhythms that occur in the peripheries of capitalistic production, the forms of survival both in everyday contests or in forms of creative imagination, the feeling with the body and the senses, the changes within the specific circumstances of or with disturbed and contaminated human and non-human landscapes.

We welcome proposals for papers, but we are also open to proposals for round tables, performance-lectures or other alternative forms and methodologies of sharing and producing knowledge. Proposals may consider some of the following issues:

  • the ambivalent impact of early capitalism on female agency and thought
  • humanisms, abolitionism and liberalism vs. feminist project
  • the feminist critique of theology
  • the historical rise of the nation and the limits and/or capacities of ‘political sisterhood’
  • the ‘ruins of socialism’ vis-à-vis the ‘ruins of capitalism’
  • the notions of ‘peripheries’ and ‘alternative margins’ vs ‘centers’ of capitalistic productions
  • postcolonial theories of philosophical engagement with worldly displacement and global dissemination
  • the analysis of ‘friction’, meaning diverse and conflictual social interactions, ‘encounters of difference’
  • feminist theories of the Anthropocene and feminist political alliances around ecological complexity
  • collaborative co-living of different species
  • the feminist materialistic ideas of ‘latent commons’ and ‘third nature’ (Tsing)



IUC courses are conducted at postgraduate level. All interested postgraduate students may apply to participate, although the course targets young scholars and postgraduate students with a defined interest in women’s/gender studies, transnational studies, philosophy, sociology, literary and cultural studies, postcolonialism, or anthropology. The course will be limited to 25 participants (15 students) in order to provide sufficient space for discussion, seminar work and student presentations. Participants must seek funding from their own institutions for the costs of travel, lodging and meals. Limited financial support is available for participants from parts of Eastern Europe and some third countries (please see The IUC requires a payment of 50 EUR for the Course fee. The working language of the course is English.


Application Procedure:

Please submit a proposal consisting of a short narrative describing your interest in the topic and your CV. Place all current contact information at the top of your CV. Send submissions by e-mail to (Francesca Maria Gabrielli). Use the subject: IUC Dubrovnik 2020. The proposal deadline is February 1st, 2020.