RGS-IBG 2020, Call for papers: Friedrich Engels and Geography

Organizers: Camilla Royle (King’s College London, camilla.royle@kcl.ac.uk)


Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was Karl Marx’s closest collaborator. Although mentioned less often than Marx in geographical discussions, he was an important theorist in his own right. With his pathbreaking work, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), he analysed the social drivers of poverty, ill health and environmental pollution in urban areas (Clark and Foster, 2006), concerns he returned to in his later work on housing (Larsen et al, 2016, Smith, 2008, p179). Influenced by the Chartist movement, the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune he was a political organiser and journalist. His wide ranging work addressed science, anthropology, philosophy, military history and more (Hunt, 2010).

Engels worked closely with Marx, his economic thinking influenced Capitaland he edited the second and third volumes after Marx’s death. However, some have questioned whether Engels’ interpretation of Marxism gave it a deterministic, economistic or dualist slant alien to Marx’s own thought (Carver, 2003; Smith, 2008, pp34-5, 87). They have suggested that this was partly responsible for reformist and authoritarian versions of socialist practice in the 20thcentury.

This paper session takes the bicentenary of Engels’ birth as an opportunity to examine his contribution to geographical thinking today. Possible themes might include (but are not limited to):

  • Engels as a philosopher and as a Marxist
  • Geographies of workers’ and peasant struggles and revolutions
  • The housing question today
  • Engels on social epidemiology, health and urban life
  • Engels on women, gender and the family
  • Engels on science, nature and the environment
  • The relevance (or otherwise) of Engels to geography in the 21stcentury


Please send abstracts (maximum of 250 words) for a 15-20 minute paper presentation to Camilla.e.royle@kcl.ac.ukby 10 February. Include a proposed title and affiliation.

Skype presentations will be considered where scholars would find it difficult to attend in person – please email the organiser to discuss.

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