The relationship between capital and culture is hotly contested. On the one hand, dominant political discourses valorise “culture” as the solution for ailing communities, cities and industries. Discourses of neo-liberal globalization claim that, in the face of mass migration, war and climate change, communities equipped with the “right” culture will adapt and endure, while others will be left behind; discourses of urban planning celebrate culture as the key to revitalising municipal economies through creativity and social participation; and discourses of post-industrial work, parsing radical shifts in the manufacturing sector, champion cultural, intellectual and creative labour as the paradigm for new forms of work. On the other, a range of critical voices, many of them associated with Cultural Studies, offer a decidedly less rosy vision of the relationship between culture and emergent capitalist formations. For these critics, nascent technologies of capital have led to a renewed reification and exploitation of racialised, sexualised, and classed populations, even as newly precarious conditions of labour give rise to affective economies marked by depression, antagonism and the “crisis ordinary.”

The 2017 Cultural Studies Association of Australasia conference will focus on the work that cultures do in constructing, contesting, and constituting new capital formations. While the “culture industry” critique cast culture as the opiate through which economic dominance is propagated, cultures can potentially mediate economic conditions in multiple and heterogeneous ways. This conference invites contributions that explore these mediations. In doing so, we return to one of the key concerns of early cultural studies: to make sense of the mutually-determining relation between culture and its capitalist context. If, following Stuart Hall, we understand ‘culture’ as the production of meaning through language and representation, what are the modes of communication through which capitalism/s are created? How are capitalism/s materialised in different spaces? How is it embodied in different identities and communities? What is the role of the economy in shaping the possibilities for culture? What is the role of Cultural Studies as critical praxis in the present economic time?

Papers are invited to address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

The cultural politics of neoliberalism
Precarious and/or immaterial labour
Digital capitalism
Capitalist affects
Trump, Brexit and the resurgence of capitalist nationalisms
Capitalism, culture and technology
The cultural and creative industries
Capitalism, culture and sustainability
Culturesof surveillance and war
Cultural identity and globalisation
Cultural resistance and activism
Productive and unproductive cultures
Base, superstructure and mediation
Formal and real subsumption of culture
Representations of capitalism, class and markets
Political economies of online, digital and social media
Anticapitalist, Socialist, Anarchist and Communist cultures
Racial capitalism
Critical theory, Cultural Marxism and Cultural Studies

The conference also accepts papers that fall within the general disciplinary area of Cultural Studies.

In addition, to the regular conference events, we will also be holding a pre-fix day for postgraduate students and early career researchers. More details regarding this event will be announced shortly.

Early bird registration costs for the event will be $350 NZD for faculty and fully waged participants, and $250 NZD for students, adjunct faculty and unwaged participants. Registration will include membership of the CSAA.


If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please send a 250 word abstract with your name, e-mail address and affiliation to csaa2017@massey.ac.nz by August 1 2017. Any other enquires regarding the event should also be addressed to csaa2017@massey.ac.nz.

Organising Committee: Nicholas Holm (Massey University), Sy Taffel (Massey University), Holly Randell-Moon (University of Otago), Pansy Duncan (Massey University), Ian Huffer (Massey University), Kevin Veale (Massey University)