Marxism and Psychology Conference

Call For Papers (Extended Deadline)
Marxism and Psychology Conference
The University of Prince Edward Island
August 5-7, 2010

Submission Deadline: February 1, 2010 (Extended Deadline)

In the history of social thought, it is difficult to find a more divisive figure than Karl Marx. For many, the mere mention of his name conjures up images of totalitarian regimes dominating nearly every aspect of an individual’s existence. Yet for others, Marx’s critique of the capitalist mode of production draws attention to the fact that our beliefs, thoughts, and desires inevitably emerge against the background of specific cultural, historical, and social practices.

The purpose of this conference is to bring students, scholars, and activists together to discuss exciting issues at the intersection of Marxism and Psychology. While it is clear that a number of organizations are making important contributions to this area of study, we believe that the time is right to open up a space for students, scholars, and activists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to reflect on the role that Marxism can play in psychological theory, research, and practice.

In bringing together scholars at the forefront of research in Marxism and Psychology, we also hope to give new students and activists an opportunity to interact with individuals who have made significant contributions within this area. By organizing an impressive collection of plenary participants, we hope to foster an environment where students, activists, and scholars can identify potential graduate advisors, research assistants, and participatory investigators. This year, confirmed plenary participants include:

Kum-Kum Bhavnani is Professor of Sociology, Women’s Studies and Global Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she also chairs the minor in Women, Culture, Development. Her Undergraduate (Bristol) and Masters (Nottingham) degrees are in Psychology, while her PhD (King’s College, Cambridge) is in Social and Political Sciences. For the past 25 years, Kum-Kum has built on her passion for critical/Marxist psychology and ethnography, and presently works in cultural studies, women’s studies, and Third World Development Studies. Her recent work includes a 2006 feature length award-winning documentary film, The Shape of Water narrated by Susan Sarandon, which reveals the intimate stories of women in Brazil, India, Jerusalem and Senegal as they create social justice.

John Cromby is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Loughborough University UK. His PhD was from the University of Nottingham Medical School, and he has worked in drug addiction, learning disability and mental health settings. His current research explores the interpenetration of the body and social influence, with a frequent focus on emotion, affect and feeling and with respect to such substantive topics as ‘depression’, ‘paranoia’ and chronic fatigue syndrome. His political sympathies lie with the libertarian socialist milieu, and he has been particularly influenced by Debord, Vaneigem, Holzkamp, Vygotsky and Foucault, as well as Marx. He is a co-editor of the journal Subjectivity

Raquel Guzzo originally graduated from Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, Brazil with a degree in Psychology. She went on to complete her Masters and Doctorate in School Psychology at the University of São Paulo with a post-doctorate in Prevention at the Center for Community Studies at the University of Rochester, USA. She is currently a Professor of Psychology at the Catholic University of Campinas and a member of the International Committee for Liberation Social Psychology. She also leads a research group on psychological intervention, subject, and liberation supported by the National Council of Research.

Lois Holzman is a Marxist activist/scholar who has worked for 30 years to build bridges between university-based and community-based practices, bringing the traditions and innovations of each to the other. She is co-founder (with Fred Newman) and director of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy in New York City. As leading proponents of a cultural approach to human learning and development, they have made the insights and discoveries of Lev Vygotsky, Karl Marx and Ludwig Wittgenstein relevant to the fields of psychotherapy, youth development, education and organizational and community development in their ongoing work to create a postmodernized Marxist methodology, known as social therapeutics. As author, lecturer and trainer, Holzman is in the thick of debates among Marxists, postmodernists, activity theorists, critical psychologists and other philosophically and politically informed scholars on how to transform psychology into a radically humane and empowering practice. Her latest book, Vygotsky at Work and Play, relates the discoveries and insights of Vygotsky to ordinary people and their communities and shows performance methodology at work in key learning environments: psychotherapy, classrooms, out-of-school youth programs, and the workplace.

Gordana Jovanovic is Associate Professor of Psychology at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia. She received her PhD from the University of Belgrade where she has taught courses in the History of Psychology, General Psychology, Personality Theory, and Qualitative Research. She was awarded a grant by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) for her research stays at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt and the Free University in Berlin. She was also awarded a study visit grant by the British Psychological Society. She is the author of Simbolizovanje i racionalnost, 1984 (in Serbian, Symbolization and Rationality) and Frojd i moderna subjektivnost, 1997 (in Serbian, Freud and Modern Subjectivity) and various contributions in German and English. Her current research and writing interests are in the areas of alternative scientific approaches, with an emphasis on the critical examination of the role of social sciences, particularly psychology in reproducing and strengthening existing structures of exploitation and subjugation of people. In both her teaching and research, she emphasizes the importance of developing psychology as a critical human science. She is member of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES) Executive Committee since 2003 and vice-chair since 2005.

Athanasios Marvakis is a German educated psychologist (University of Tübingen) and since 2007 Associate Professor in Clinical Social Psychology at the School of Primary Education of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki/Greece. His interests revolve around psychology and its relations with the various forms of social inequalities and social exclusion (e.g., racism, nationalism, ethnicism, multiculturalism), including youth as a social group (political orientations, youth and racism in Europe) and migrants in Greece. The last years he has started to be engaged in the critical psychology of the “schooling-complex”.

Morten Nissen is Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, in community and educational psychology. His research is about forms of collectivity in connection with practical intervention. Theoretically, subjectivity is regarded as a participatory relationship (I and we) that is constituted and develops in various kinds of production – meaning both creation and staging. Empirically, the field is social work with young people using drugs and/or other kinds of crisis or problems. This is connected with methodological reflections on practice research viewed as the social production of prototypes in which psychology and other disciplines participate. This approach is developed from the cultural-historical tradition’s continuation as critical psychology, inspired by much social theory that takes up the Hegelian-(or anti-Hegelian)-Marxist legacy of an epistemology of practice. Morten takes this to be a politicizing and trans-disciplinary approach to issues that people define as psychological. Morten is editor of the open access journal Outlines – Critical Practice Studies and member of the executive committee of ISCAR.

Ian Parker is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). He was co-founder in 1991, and is currently co-director (with Erica Burman) of the Discourse Unit at MMU ( His research and writing has been in the field of psychoanalysis, psychology and social theory, with a particular focus on discourse, critical psychology, mental health and political practice. He co-edited (with Russell Spears) the edited volume on Marxism and psychology, Psychology and Society: Radical Theory and Practice (Pluto Press, 1996), and Marxism underpins his critique of psychology in Revolution in Psychology: Alienation to Emancipation (Pluto Press, 2007).

Carl Ratner is a cultural psychologist who uses Marxism as his cultural theory. He shows how Marxist cultural theory generates unique insights into culture and into the relation between culture and psychology. Carl also explores political aspects of psychological theories and methodologies, and he shows how political insights illuminate scientific aspects of the theories and methodologies. He has critiqued scientific and political shortcomings of mainstream psychology, evolutionary psychology, cross-cultural psychology, positivistic methodology, post modernism, and individualistic-subjectivistic approaches to cultural psychology. Carl utilizes the theory of Vygotsky to extend Marxist cultural theory to psychology. His latest book is Cultural Psychology: A Perspective on Psychological Functioning and Social Reform (LEA). His forthcoming book is Macro Cultural Psychology: A Political Philosophy of Mind (Oxford UP).

Hans Skott-Myhre is an interdisciplinary cultural theorist whose primary research area is the development of models of child and youth work that promote new political possibilities for youth-adult collaboration that challenge global capitalist empire. His research includes the investigation of new forms of community, identity, body practices, and creative expression that hold potential for resistance or flight for youth and adults working towards common political purposes.

Thomas Teo is Associate Professor in the History and Theory of Psychology Program at York University and current editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He has published historical and theoretical articles in Theory & Psychology, New Ideas in Psychology, Canadian Psychology, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, History of Psychology, History of the Human Sciences, etc. The Critique of Psychology: From Kant to Postcolonial Theory, his latest monograph, was published in 2005. Varieties of theoretical psychology: International philosophical and practical concerns, his latest co-edited book, was published in 2009. He analyzes the historical and theoretical foundations of psychology based on critical-hermeneutic reconstructions. His critical studies focus on scientific racism in the human sciences, on the concept of epistemological violence, and on the critique of ideology in psychology.

We welcome submissions for individual papers and panel sessions. For individual papers, please submit an abstract (150-200 words) no later than February 1, 2010. For panel submissions, please include an abstract (150-200 words) for each paper as well as a brief description of the panel (150-200 words). Please submit all materials to Abstracts should either be in the body of the email or sent as an attachment (DOC or PDF format).

For further information, please visit the conference website: