The Interdisciplinary Center for Studies and Research on Marx and Marxism (NIEP-Marx , Brazil) was founded in 2003, gathering teachers/researchers of different disciplines, such as History, Sociology, Economy, Social Service and Architecture. The group originates from collective teaching activities in social movements and articulates teaching, research and extension activities. The main objective of the NIEP-Marx is the interdisciplinary reflection on labour, culture and politics, based on the standpoint of historical materialism. The group’s theoretical foundation is the work of Marx and Engels, but also that of some key Marxist thinkers of the 20th and 21st Centuries, especially A. Gramsci, G. Lukács and E.P. Thompson.
The theoretical perspective shared by the researchers of NIEP-Marx is synthetically expressed in the following passage of Antonio Gramsci:
That ‘human nature’ is the ‘ensemble of social relations’ is the most satisfying answer [to the question ‘What defines human being?’], because it includes the idea of becoming – man becomes, he changes continuously with the changing of social relations – and because it negates ‘man in general’.
Gramsci’s statement is particularly interesting because it emphasises the historical dynamic of social relations as constitutive of ‘human nature’. The group believes this is one of the main tenets of the worldview built up upon the work of Marx.
The reflection advanced by Marx is characterised by transdisciplinarity, insofar as different levels of analysis interweave in an actually historical explanation of history. In the Marxian project, the multidimensional nature and the emphasis on historicity can be noticed, on the one hand, on the defence of the notion that relations between human beings constitute social process and are constituted by it, being thus endowed with historicity. They can be also noticed, on the other, on the statement of the famous thesis that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it’. This thesis reinforces the dimension of becoming, of the project and the possibility of transformation – as said, the centrality of historical perspective.
In our reading of the social theory elaborated on the basis of Marx’s work, the emphasis relies then on the conception that human beings make their own history in conditions that are not determined just by their will, but by objective situations. These involve material and social dimensions, not just ideas. It is, thus, the historical, dialectic, materialist perspective, openly Marxist, that the researchers of the Niep-Marx share among them.
Since its foundation, the Niep-Marx has enlarged the scope of its activities, increasing the number of researchers involved and the diversity of its projects and achievements. The main activities developed by the group until now are:
- the articulation of the research of the members of the group;
- activities of collective study and research;
- the event Marx and Marxism, annually organised since 2007;
- the Forum-NIEP, an activity designed for the presentation and discussion of researches elaborated by members of the group and/or visiting scholars;
- the organization of workshops, events and conferences that help to diffuse Marxist theoretical perspective;
- the publication of texts advancing the work of the researchers of the group;
- the journal ‘Marx e o Marxismo: Revista do Niep-Marx;
- the integration with similar groups of Brazil and abroad.