You just need to Login or Register to make a class proposal. (Sorry about that, but it cuts down on spam and also helps with organizing)

Immaterial Labor

Drawing on the anti-essentialist arguments of feminism and post-structuralism, the critic J.K. Gibson-Graham (a collaboration of two authors) offered a critique of the representation of Capitalism as a monolithic system. For Gibson-Graham, both the right and the left too often promote an image of bourgeois dictatorship that is as creative in conquering all opposition as it is in maintaining an unswerving advance towards oblivion. By challenging the image of an all-powerful Capitalism, Gibson-Graham challenged activists and scholars to recognize the contradictions of Capitalism as cracks in the surface through which we can see alternative forms of social and economic organization, in the present and all around us. The real question, then, is how to bring coherence to those disparate instances? The kinds of questions raised by Gibson-Graham draws heavily on Marxist feminists who argued for a more expansive notion of labor to include reproductive and affective forms of work and subjectivity within Capitalism. Parallel to feminism were the incredibly important ideas that emerged out of the revolutionary movements of the Italian autonomist left in the 1970s. The term Immaterial Labor was introduced by autonomist communists like Maurizio Lazzarato as a way of interrogating both the quantitative and qualitative shifts in Capitalist organization and exploitation of labor. And in the larger anti-capitalist milieu of that moment, the notions of Immaterial Labor saw their direct consequences for both militant organizing and militant inquiry. This reading group will investigate some of the key texts in the development of the idea of Immaterial Labor. The group is open to both cultural workers and organizers interested in teasing out the implications of these ideas both within cultural analysis and practice. The group is convened by Marie Shurkus, visiting professor in Media Studies at Pomona College and Dont Rhine from the art and organizing collective Ultra-red. Both Shurkus and Rhine are permanent faculty with the low-residency MFA program in Visual Art at Vermont College of Fine Arts. The group will meet four times on the fourth Sunday of the month beginning March through June. Readings for each session (approx. 20 to 30 pages for each session) will be provided via The Public School website or links.


"Declaration" was an excellent choice for a final reading. It brings up a lot of the themes of autonomia we have touched on earlier.

diamond_cake's picture

I wish I had noticed this earlier and could've participated. Julie Graham, 1/2 of J.K. Gibson Graham was my BA thesis adviser and a genuinely wonderful human being. She died of cancer three years ago. The work of JKGG spawned this project which may be of interest:

Hello all. Our previous and third meeting was quite lively as we connected the ideas of the first two meetings in the history of the Autonomist Marxist movement thanks to the texts by Cuninghame, Keach and Tronti's seminal essay, "The Strategy of Refusal."

At the end of the meeting a number of folks expressed a desire to bring the discussion into the present. How might the ideas of Autonomist Marxism reflect on and analyze our current historical conjuncture?

To help with a response to that question, we are proposing to read the just-published essay, "Declaration" by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The text is very much written as a response to the current crisis of capitalism.

Next and last meeting: Sunday, 24 June, 2:00 PM
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, DECLARATION (NY: Hardt and Negri, 2012).


won't be present--am following the readings online from mexico. wish i could see the installation in person, arjun. you all should go if it doesn't overlap that much...

ill be there.

Ah I'll be there.

Also round the corner at Human Resources I have a show up, which I think has been influenced by our discussions. Come check it out - I'd love to hear what you all think (in the context of immaterial labour and affect).


me too

sean's picture

I'll be there too

I'll be there.



Close this window