Future of the Lumpenproletariat
A conference in memory of the late Prof Glyn Salton-Cox


Academic Conference

IHC McCune Conference Room (6020 HSSB)
24–25 May.
Poster for "The Future of the Lumpenproletariat" Conference, UCSB English, May 2024

This conference seeks to center the contemporary valences of the concept of the lumpenproletariat, which Friedrich Engels identified as “social scum,” particularly outcasts, such as professional thieves, pimps, and gamblers. More generally, this term refers to those who do not generate profits for employers. In this judgment, the hegemonic working-class paradigm of the left and conservative notion of the “undeserving poor” converge.

We are organizing this conference to honor and extend the work of our teacher, Glyn Salton-Cox, who was an Associate Professor of English at UC Santa Barbara and who suddenly passed away while working on a book on the topic. As students enormously indebted to Glyn’s intellectual guidance, we are hosting this conference to expand his ideas and evaluate the global lumpen today across global literary, media, historical and sociological contexts. We seek to examine how contemporary representations across literature, media, and the social sciences signal its future valences. Where in the 21st century, can ‘lumpens’ be located (if at all): as technological advancement, environmental degradation, and global instabilities continue to redefine the meaning of “productivity,” “collectivity,” “precarity” and political consciousness?

This symposium will not only honor the legacy of Glyn, but also provide a space for emerging and established scholars to reflect on the untapped potential of the concept of the lumpenproletariat and its varying forms given the unstable and uneven faces of global capitalism today.

When: 24-25th May (9 AM- 6:30 PM)

Where: HSSB 6020, McCune Conference Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Building

Note: In order to reach the McCune Room, enter from the southernmost building door–closest to the events center parking lot–and take the elevator to the top floor

Join Zoom Meeting-

(Please note that the Zoom live-stream is for accessibility purposes only–presenters will be giving their papers in-person, and we will NOT record the proceedings)

Please reach out directly to lumpenconference@hotmail.com if you have any questions


Cedric Johnson, Professor of Black Studies and Political Science (University of Illinois Chicago)


  • Maurizia Boscagli, Professor of English (UCSB)
  • Colleen Lye, Associate Professor of English (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Ben Olguín, Professor of English (UCSB)

ORGANIZERS : R Baker, Ted Giardello, Somak Mukherjee, Tannishtha B

Conference Schedule:

Friday, May 24

8:30 AM-9:15 AM: Coffee and Opening Remarks

9:15 AM-10:15 AM: Opening Talk– Maurizia Boscagli (UC Santa Barbara): “Lumpen Logistics”

Moderated by Somak Mukherjee

10:15 AM-10:30 AM: Coffee Break

10:30 AM-12:30 PM: Panel One–Scoundrels and Surplus: Automation and Anti-Work in the Age of the Global Precariat

Moderated by R Baker

  • Sumaria Butt (University of California, Davis)
    “Reading the Gamer Class as a Faction of the Lumpen”
  • Kyle Scott (University of California, Los Angeles)
    “Idleness as Resistance”
  • Ankit Sharma (University of California, Santa Cruz)
    “World(s) of Precarity: Surplus Workers at the Heart of Industries and Labor Actions in India”
  • Ryan Watt (Independent Scholar)
    “Dirtbag: The Shambolic Historical Origins of the Lumpenproletariat and the Future of Easy Money

12:30 PM-1:30 PM: Lunch Break

1:30 PM-3:30 PM: Panel Two— Literature and the Lumpenproletariat

Moderated by Somak Mukherjee

  • Ashwin Bajaj (University of California, Irvine)
    “From Refuse to Refusal: Queer Politics and the Lumpen in Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh”
  • Timothy McCarthy (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    “Michael K. and the Lives of the Lumpenproletariat”
  • Suvankur Sukul (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    “Waste and the Lumpenproletariat: A Reading of J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron”
  • Joseph Sweetnam (University of California, Irvine)
    “Futurism and Underdevelopment: Mina Loy’s Bowery Poems”

3:30 PM-3:45 PM: Afternoon Break

3:45 PM-5:00 PM: KEYNOTE — Cedric Johnson (University of Illinois, Chicago) : “Farewell to the Lumpenproletariat”

Moderated by Ben Olguín

5:00 PM: Reception (IHC McCune Room)


Saturday, May 25

8:30 AM-9:15 AM: Coffee and Light Breakfast

9:15 AM-11:15 AM: Panel Three — The Interplay of Revolution and Exclusion: Historical Lessons, Contemporary
Challenges, and Ideological Reconfigurations

Moderated by Leila Stegemoeller

  • Katherine Connelly (New York University, London)
    “How to stop the next Brumaire”
  • Andrew Haas (University of California, Berkeley)
    “Negative Dialectics and Lumpenization”
  • Colleen Lye (University of California, Berkeley)
    “Asian American Post-Maoism”
  • Ivan Drury Zarin (Simon Frasier College)
    “Lumpen or subaltern? Theorizing working class social exclusion and counter hegemonic power”

11:15 AM-11:30 AM: Coffee Break

11:30 AM- 1:00 PM: Panel Four–“Lumpen Latinidades”

Moderated by Erick Rodriguez

  • Ben Olguín (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    “The Lumpen Vernacular: Chicano Prisoner Lumpen Epistemologies and Proto-Revolutionary Praxis in Prison Tattoo and Handkerchief Art”
  • Adan Garcia (University of California, Davis)
    “One foot already in the swamp of pauperism”
  • Antonio Rivera-Montoya (University of California, Riverside)
    “Chilean travesti/trans- performance and the monopoly of South American violence”

1:00 PM-2:00 PM: Lunch Break

2:00 PM-3:30 PM: Panel Five— Carceral Studies and Identitarianism

Moderated by Ted Giardello

  • Clint Terrell (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    “The New Convict as a Post-Postmodern Subject: How Twenty-First Century Prison Writers are Defining Class Struggle”
  • Robert Weide (California State University, Los Angeles)
    “Killing the Critics: How COINTELPRO Assassinations Paved the Way for the Hegemony of Contemporary Identity Politics”

3:30 PM-3:45 PM: Afternoon Break

3:45 PM-4:00 PM: Concluding Remarks– Ben Olguín

4:00 PM -5:00 PM: Concluding Discussion Forum– Open to all participants

6:00 PM — Dinner for Conference Presenters, Organizers– (Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant, Goleta)



Prof. Glyn Salton-Cox

Glyn Salton-Cox was an Associate Professor of English with research interests including Marxism, queer theory and social history, 1930s literature, nineteenth and twentieth century British, French, and German intellectual history, the modern novel, Weimar Berlin, Soviet aesthetics, twentieth-century British comedy, and comparative urbanisms. His monograph, Queer Communism and the Ministry of Love: Sexual Revolution in British Writing of the 1930s (Edinburgh UP, 2018) examines queer writers of the 1930s who engaged with Communism, including Christopher Isherwood, Sylvia Townsend Warner, and Katharine Burdekin. With Leo Mellor, he guest edited a special edition of Critical Quarterly on “The Long 1930s” (October 2015). Among other venues, his work also appeared in Modern Language Quarterly, Comparative Literature, A History of 1930s British Literature (Cambridge UP, 2019), Keywords: A Journal of Cultural Materialism, and Twentieth-Century Communism. At the time of his passing Salton-Cox was also working on book projects on the intellectual, literary, and cultural history of the lumpenproletariat as an alternative genealogy of the revolutionary subject, and on British comedy’s compensatory responses to decolonization.

This conference was made possible by the generous sponsorship of:

Ben V. Olguín, Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in English & UCSB Global Latinidades Center;
Charmaine Chua, Asst. Professor, Dept of Global Studies;
The Carsey-Wolf Center;
The Blum Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy;
Amazon and Economic Justice Research Project;
the Department of English, UCSB;
the Graduate Division, UCSB;
the Center on Modern Culture, Materialism, and Aesthetics (COMMA), UCSB English;
Medieval Literatures (UCSB English);
Bishnupriya Ghosh, Professor of English and Global Studies;
the Early Modern Center (UCSB English);
the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts;
the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor;
the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies;
the Department of Global Studies;
Literature and the Environment Center (UCSB English);
the Department of Film and Media Studies;
the Department of Feminist Studies;
the Central Coast Labor Center;
the Graduate Center for Literary Research (GCLR);
the Social Sciences Division, UCSB;
and Eileen Boris, the Hull Endowed Chair of Gender and Feminist Studies

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