While an elusive concept, neoliberalism has come to denote a set of economic policies and principles grounded on individualism, market deregulation, and extensive privatisation.
Neoliberalism has also, however, come to be understood as extending far beyond its ‘proper’ economic domain, a mode of reason that governs every realm of our lives, where “all conduct is economic conduct,” as Wendy Brown puts it: “In neoliberal reason and in domains governed by it, we are only and everywhere homo oeconomicus” (Brown, 2015: 10). The proliferation of neoliberal reason, as Brown and others have underscored, not only reproduces existing racial inequalities, the neoliberal condition cannot but be apprehended as intertwined with processes of racialisation. Racialisation hinges, as some recent work has shown, on what we might name the calculability of the subject, its reduction to definable fixed quantities. It is in this frame that we hear Mbembe’s argument in Critique of Black Reason that neoliberalism is inextricably linked to the digital, the reduction of life to ones and zeros, to abstract calculability. To this end, we propose to rethink black radical thought in relation to neoliberalism, racial capitalism and speculative capital and/or considered forms of capitalism by foregrounding but not limiting ourselves to Steve Biko’s elaboration of black consciousness.
With this proposition in mind, the CHR plans to hold a small workshop in the first week of November 2023, where papers will be presented and discussed together, with the aim of putting together an edited volume in 2024.. The conveners invite submissions of an abstract for a paper on the topic of “black radical thought and neoliberalism.” Submissions can relate to any of the specific topics described in the below document.