Marielle Franco 


Marielle Franco


Marielle Franco PrizE

The Marielle Franco Prize is awarded biennially by the International Herbert Marcuse Society for an outstanding paper presented by a young scholar on the theme of the Marcuse Society's conference.


Rodney Doody 2019

Rodney Doody (PhD candidate, York University, Toronto, CANADA) is the recipient of the Marielle Franco Prize for his paper, "The Hedonism and Asceticism of Neoliberal Subjectivity: The Crude Needs of Consumer Capitalism and its Social, Psychological and Ecological Devastation," delivered at the eighth (8th) biennial conference of the Marcuse Society in 2019, at University of California, Santa Barbara. The prize was confirmed and celebrated at the ninth (9th) biennial conference of the Marcuse Society in 2021, at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, USA. The paper was then revised as a chapter for publication:

Eduardo Altheman 2021

Eduardo Altheman (Postdoctoral Fellow, Program in Sociology, University of São Paulo, BRASIL) is the recipient of the Marielle Franco Prize for his paper, "The Ideology of Platform Capitalism—Neoliberalism, Precarity, and Domination," delivered at the ninth (9th) biennial conference of the Marcuse Society in 2021, at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, USA. The prize was confirmed and celebrated at the tenth (10th) biennial conference of the Marcuse Society in 2023, in Frankfurt, GERMANY. 

In summarizing his conference paper, Altheman writes:

"In this paper, I addressed the issues of ideology and exploitation in what has been termed 'platform capitalism,' focusing on so-called 'lean platforms' or 'labor platforms' (such as Uber, DidiChuxing, iFood, Deliveroo, among others).

"I turned to Herbert Marcuse's work on technology and ideology to analyze how platforms, through a series of technological and managerial apparatuses (such as algorithms, gamification, data extraction, network-based management, and the platform per se), attempt to present themselves as: (a) a neutral digital site; (b) the utmost achievement of Reason; and, (c) an exploitation-free milieu.

"I argued that the platform represents the dreamland of the neoliberal ideology of insulated individuals and a classless cooperative 'association.' In this sense, I intended to update Marcuse's diagnostics of social domination through technology and produce a study on the ideology of advanced neoliberal society as shaped by platform capitalism."

Eduardo Altheman earned the PhD in Sociology from the University of São Paulo (2018), where he also received the BA in Social Sciences (2011) and the MA in Sociology (2013). He was a Visiting scholar at Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main (2014) and at Duke University (2016). 

The title of Altheman's PhD dissertation is Por uma Teoria Crítica do neoliberalismo—Herbert Marcuse no século XXI  [Towards a Critical Theory of Neoliberalism—Herbert Marcuse in the 21st Century], about which he writes: 

"In my dissertation, I engaged with some critical texts written by Herbert Marcuse in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s to understand how his theory of one-dimensionality, counterrevolution, and centripetal forces maintained its topicality for our neoliberal present—or not, given that Marcuse himself was famous for declaring the 'obsolescence' of psychoanalysis, socialism or even Marxism if the object and the historical present pushed concepts themselves to mutate. 

"The dissertation thus pointed out the continuities and ruptures of Marcuse's theory—forged in a context of class compromise, Fordist labor, Keynesian state, and embedded in a prolonged period of relatively stable capitalist growth (the so-called 'thirty glorious years')—when one considers the neoliberal twenty-first century.

"To do so, I focused on three main areas of concern, which comprise the three main sections of the dissertation: class, labor, and subjectivity.

"I concluded (if one can speak of 'conclusion' concerning Critical Theory) that, while class arrangements and labor traits followed different paths than those envisioned by Marcuse's tendential hypotheses, his remarks on ideology and one-dimensional subjectivity are probably more relevant today than in the 1960s."

As regards his research and scholarly interests, Altheman explains:

"My current research focuses on platform labor, mainly as it is carried out in the (semi)periphery of capitalism. In Brazil, platforms have been the country's most significant 'employer' since 2019. This means anyone interested in understanding the contours of the 21st-century working classes cannot neglect the social and political transformations induced by this kind of labor.

"Inspired by Marcuse's insights on the relationship between domination, class configuration, technology, and ideology, I am especially interested in platforms as conduits for neoliberal subjectivation predicated upon meritocracy, personal performance, competition, and hindrance to class solidarity.

"This investigation could help explain the working-class support for Bolsonaro's neoliberal-neofascist agenda (although this is not the only factor that played a role in his election and near reelection).

"To develop this research, I have spent the last three years conducting digital ethnography in WhatsApp and Facebook groups and interviewing platform workers in São Paulo, where I live.

"I plan to publish the research findings as a book that addresses the relationship between the new technological platform apparatus and neoliberal ideology.

"I am also co-editing (with Nicole K. Mayberry, Jina Fast, and Sid Simpson) The Marcusean Mind, a volume dedicated to Marcuse to be published by Routledge as part of their Philosophical Minds series." 

[March 2023]

Cristina Parapar 2023

Cristina Parapar (PhD candidate, Sorbonne University, Paris, FRANCE) is the recipient of the Marielle Franco Prize for her paper, "Il faut continuer: Marcusean Aesthetics in Late Capitalism," delivered at the tenth (10th) biennial conference of the Marcuse Society in 2023, at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, in Frankfurt, GERMANY.  The prize will be confirmed and celebrated at the eleventh (11th) biennial conference of the Marcuse Society in 2025, at George Washington University, in Washington, DC, USA. 

Parapar is PhD candidate in Aesthetics of Music at Sorbonne University. She currently holds a research grant from the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (Paris). Educated in Salamanca and Paris Universities, she completed a BA in Philosophy, Humanities, and Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art. She was a visiting researcher at Duke University (Durham), Columbia University (New York), and Humboldt University (Berlin). Her research focuses on critical theory and philosophy of popular music. Selected musical writings have been published in French ("Silence= violence?" in Éditions L’Harmattan) and in Spanish ("¿O la trampa sintomática o la música en los márgenes?" Fedro). She has also contributed to the volume Pearl Jam and Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2021) and The Marcusean Mind (Routledge, 2024), among others.

The abstract of Parapar's prize-winning paper,  "Il faut continuer: Marcusean Aesthetics in Late Capitalism" follows:

Philosophy has traditionally vilified popular music in general, and the first philosopher to inaugurate this persecution of Leichte Musik was Theodor W. Adorno. At first, the author of Minima Moralia condemned jazz, which he described as a musical commodity. Indeed, he not only railed against jazz, but also against Joan Baez and The Beatles, for example. According to Adorno, the mere attempt to link political revolt with popular music is a failure, since the ontology of Leichte Musik does not allow it to go beyond consumption and entertainment, so that it is not possible to ascribe to it this critical function.

In contrast to his friend, Herbert Marcuse perceives the political dimension and philosophical interest of popular music, namely musical counterculture. Firstly, the author of One-Dimensional Man differentiates between blues, folk rock and roll and “white rock.” This philosophical distinction is particularly significant because it reveals that popular music deserves to be thought philosophically and that it constitutes itself as an agent of negation in the one-dimensional society. In a nutshell, Marcuse's brilliance (and philosophical innovation) lies in defining a part of popular music as die grosse Weigerung.

Therefore the aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, it is necessary to reflect on the place of popular music in Marcuse's aesthetic theory. In other words, the question is to reconsider the political potential of the counterculture of the 1960s and to explain why Marcuse perceived in it the germ of a new sensibility. This paper also aims to examine the position of today's popular music in late capitalism through Marcuse's theoretical prism. It is about proving that certain popular music refuses to be neutralized by the capitalist system and that it refuses to be relegated to a mere piece of affirmative culture. In other words, if “the power of corporate capitalism has stifled the emergence of such a consciousness and imagination; (if) its mass media have adjusted the rational and emotional faculties to its market and its policies and steered them to defense of its dominion” [Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 19690 p.17], could popular music “desadjust” these rational and emotional faculties in order to emancipation? Popular music and aesthetics play a pivotal role in Great Refusal nowadays?

In order to answer to these questions this paper will be divided into three parts. Firstly, I will outline Marcuse's aesthetic period and its differences with Adorno's theory. Secondly, I will delve into the political potential of black music in Marcusean aesthetics. Since the ultimate purpose of this presentation also lies in reconsidering and revisiting current popular music through the prism of Marcusean aesthetics, I will conclude the presentation with an analysis of a current work of popular music, "This is America" (2018), by Childish Gambino.  To put it briefly, I consider that Marcuse's aesthetic intuitions are today revealed as a necessary philosophical tool for thinking about the subversive potential of popular music.

Therefore, in order to vindicate the topicality of Marcuse's aesthetic theory, I will end the presentation by answering these questions: is "This is America" an expression of die grosse Weigerung in late capitalism? Can Childish Gambino’s song constitute the beginning of a new sensibility that would challenge the rationality of repressive society? 

[December 2023]