Arcadia University's London Centre hosted a symposium on Marx and the City on Friday, November 2nd, 2018. Marking the 200 year anniversary of Marx’s birth, the relevance of this event was further underlined by the location of the Arcadia’s London centre a short distance from Marx’s lodgings in Soho and a building he must have passed almost daily on his journey to the reading room of the British Museum.
This very successful one-day symposium examined Marx's approach to the city, how he envisaged its revolutionary transformation, as well as the relevance and resonances of his approach today. A notable feature of the event was the key role played by Arcadia students: chairing panels, assisting with the organization and maintaining a social media presence throughout the day.
The value of the symposium was in the range of disciplinary approaches, encompassing sociology, history, architecture, musicology, politics and urban planning. An exciting feature was the geographical range of the engagement: Anke Pinkert and Evan Sedgwick-Jell discussing changing German attitudes to Marx monuments, an excellent paper from Oliver Sutton on the recent Barcelona protests, Angus McNally speaking on the fortunes of the wave of left-leaning governments in Latin America and Isabel Gutierrez Sanchez reporting on the innovative ways in which responses to austerity have shaped the architecture of Athens. Papers drew on cities Marx’s own thought and writings helped shape: Paris, London and Manchester.
The Dublin perspective was represented by Garrett Fagan’s paper outlining the place of Ireland in the thought of Marx and Engels and their influence on James Connolly and the Easter Rising. Grietje Baars of City University contributed a further paper of Irish interest, speculating on the tantalizing possibility of a meeting between Marx and Oscar Wilde and what they might have made of each other.
Organized by Morgan Daniels, faculty member of the London Centre and Andrew Faas, Associate Director of Academic Affairs, this event was the first research symposium to be held at Arcadia University’s London study abroad centre in Holborn and will hopefully be the first of many.