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Indermohan Virk
Executive Director, William T. Patten Foundation

Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Political philosopher Nancy Fraser to speak at next Patten Foundation lecture

Jan. 11, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Nancy Fraser, the Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Politics and Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York, will present two Patten Foundation lectures this spring at Indiana University.

Fraser will speak on "Nature, Labor, Money: Flashpoints of Capitalist Crisis in the 21st Century" on January 25 (Tuesday), and on "Marketization, Social Protection, Emancipation: Grammars of Struggle in Capitalist Crisis" on January 27 (Thursday). Both lectures will take place in Rawles Hall, Room 100, at 7:30 p.m.

One of the leading political philosophers and feminist theorists practicing today, her writing addresses issues of concern to a broad audience, including globalization, cosmopolitanism, identity politics, neoliberalism, the welfare state and gender issues.

In her first lecture, "Nature, Labor, Money: Flashpoints of Capitalist Crisis in the 21st Century," Fraser will discuss Karl Polanyi's concept of fictitious commodification from his 1944 book, The Great Transformation. After proposing a post-metaphysical reinterpretation of this concept, she will use it to analyze burgeoning markets in nature, reproductive labor and finance as flashpoints of the current crisis of neoliberalism. The result will be a revised understanding of commodification that better grasps both the system dynamics and the normative deficits of contemporary capitalism.

In Fraser's second lecture, "Marketization, Social Protection, Emancipation: Grammars of Struggle in Capitalist Crisis," she will examine Polanyi's conception of the double movement. Seeking to expand his idea of a two-sided conflict between partisans of deregulated markets and proponents of social protection, she will incorporate a third pole of social movement aimed at emancipation. The result will be a revised understanding of the grammar of social conflict that better reflects the social struggles of the twenty-first century.

Fraser's work bridges the world of abstract theory and the world of policy/legal issues. Her scholarship has brought feminist analysis and critical theory to bear on some of the most challenging practical issues facing developed democracies. She addresses a host of questions of broad public interest, such as: How should we conceive of the relationship between identity (e.g., racial and gender equality) and the broader struggle for expanded political and social equality? What place should democratic participation have in our globalizing world and in emerging "post-national" institutions?

She has written eleven books, including Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (University of Minnesota and Polity Press 1989); Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the Postsocialist Condition (Routledge 1997); and Stretching the Radical Imagination: Beyond the Unholy Alliance of Identity Politics and Neoliberalism (Verso 2010). In addition, she has written over sixty articles and book chapters. Her stature as a scholar also is evidenced by the impressive list of honors and academic recognitions she has received, including the Storrs Lectures at Yale Law School, the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Stanford University, and the Chaire Blaise Pascale at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences socials in Paris.

For further information on Fraser, see

Patten Lecture Series History

The William T. Patten Foundation has provided generous funds to bring to IU Bloomington people of extraordinary national and international distinction since 1937 -- making it the oldest lecture series at Indiana University. More than 180 world-renowned scholars have lectured at Indiana University under its auspices. Noted specialists in their fields, speakers have been chosen for their ability to convey the significance of their work to a general audience. Chosen by a campus-wide faculty committee, Patten lecturers have represented over 50 academic departments and programs. Past lecturers have included Oscar Arias, Jorge Luis Borges, Noam Chomsky, Natalie Zemon Davis, Umberto Eco, Julian S. Huxley, Evelyn Fox Keller, Toni Morrison, Amos Oz, Helmuth Rilling, Edward Said, Amartya Sen, Wole Soyinka, Ren Thom, Lester Thurow, Strobe Talbott, Martha Nussbaum, and Wendell Berry.

William T. Patten received his A.B. degree in 1893 in history from IU. After graduation he settled in Indianapolis, where he made a career in real estate and politics, including serving as county auditor. He remained appreciative of the educational opportunities that IU had afforded him, and toward the end of his life, in 1931, he made a gift to the university in the form of liberty bonds and Indiana municipal and county bonds. The gift was to be held as an endowment bearing his name, and the income used for bringing to the campus eminent leaders in their fields for residence and lectures to enrich the intellectual life of the campus.

For a more complete history on William T. Patten and further details on the upcoming lecture series, visit

Inquiries about the Patten Foundation and the Patten Lecture Series should be sent to