Transnational Affects: AHRC International Symposium

Transnational Affects

Queen Mary, University of London

Wednesday 21st May 2014, 9:30-18:00

Mile End campus, Arts One building, Arts Lecture Theatre

An AHRC International Symposium co-hosted by the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London and the Gender Research Group, Newcastle University

Keynote: Jasbir Puar (Rutgers)

Speakers: Joan Anim-Addo (Goldsmiths); Ben Anderson (Durham); Lilie Chouliaraki (LSE); Denise deCaires Narain (Sussex); Alison Donnell (Reading); Caleb Johnston (Edinburgh); Silvia Posocco (Birkbeck); Amit Rai (Queen Mary); Carolyn Pedwell (Newcastle and Queen Mary)

This one-day AHRC international symposium explores what it might mean to offer a transnational perspective on the ‘turn to affect’, focusing on interdisciplinary feminist, postcolonial, queer and other critical perspectives. The event brings together a range of scholarly fields and geo-political sites to examine how affects, emotions and feelings are produced through transnational relations of power and, in turn, how transnational politics work via the circulation of affect. Paying particular attention to shifting gendered, racialised, sexualised and classed dynamics, speakers will address the complex ways in which affects are generated within, circulated through, and productive of transnational processes of empire, colonialism, slavery, diaspora, migration, globalisation, neoliberalism, biopolitics, development, global media, international security, and other phenomena.

Drawing on and extending important work within the fields of affect theory, the history of emotions, transnational studies, international geo-politics, women’s and gender studies, queer studies, postcolonial and critical race studies, and media, cultural and literary theory, among other fields, the event considers the implications of transnational analysis of affective politics for: our understandings of temporality and spatiality; the non- and more-than-human; constitutive entanglements of ‘the discursive’ and ‘the material’, ‘the personal’ and ‘the impersonal’, ‘the biological’ and ‘the cultural’ and ‘the structural’ and ‘the ephemeral’; and critical projects of gendering, queering and decolonizing affect theory. We will examine how emotions and affects are understood, produced and felt differently across different cultural and geo-political contexts and circuits and asks what role feeling plays in wider transnational processes of translation, mediation, imagination and attunement. From different angles, the symposium addresses the central question of how we can attend to the affective hierarchies and exclusions that contemporary transnational relations (re)produce while nonetheless keeping our senses open to the unpredictable futures of affective politics.

This is a free event; however, places are limited. For further information about the event and to reserve your place please visit:

Workshop: After Modernity, into Complexity? Possibilities for Critique

After Modernity, into Complexity? Possibilities for Critique in an Age of Global Cooperation

International workshop at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg, Germany

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The question of spaces, possibilities and positions of critique has been picked up with renewed vigour today. The basis on which the current engagement takes place are fundamental and ongoing transformations in resistance, governing and critique. These include: a transformation of resistant politics form class struggle of socialist movements of the late 19th and early 20th century, to the culture wars of the New Left of the 1960s and 70s through to today’s acephalous bubble-up politics of Occupy etc. Governing rationalities have undergone a transformation from the liberal rule over the public of legal subjects, to the neoliberal responsibilisation of the entrepreneurial subject through to today’s resilience approaches of governing through the learning subject. Critique has shifted from structuralist thought of orthodox Marxism, to its poststructuralist challenge of ethical deconstruction through to today’s nonstructuralist theorisations, such as actor-network theories, new materialism and ‘life politics’. At the same time, Critical Theory in its Habermasian and more Marxist variants, is trying hard to rejuvenate critique under labels such as ‘justification’, ‘the right to justification’, ‘forms of life’ or ‘staging totality’. In essence, the terrain of sociological and philosophical critique is as crowded as ever. Yet, its traction with political struggles seems to be weaker than ever before.

The aim of the workshop, building on the previous event on ‘Culture, Life and Critique’ (23 April 2013), is twofold: First, it seeks to engage further with the question how we can come to a better understanding of the present (and its challenges) through excavating the rationale of current critique and through scrutinising its emancipatory imaginary. If the Enlightenment as critique meant the subject’s ‘exit from’ self-imposed immaturity, what is current critical thought ‘exiting from’ and what is its promise? Is it that complexity leaves us no other option than to immerse ourselves in necessary, i.e. global, cooperation, both hailed as a solution to our problems and conceptualised as grounded in what is biologically or normatively “given”, instead of deliberately engage in emancipatory critique and struggle? Second, what may be the reasons for the lack of traction of contemporary social critique and how can this irrelevance be overcome? We wish to explore these questions with a particular view on the self-referentiality of critical thought. We invite participants to reflect critically upon the question whether the diversification of critical thought resonates with rather than challenges a world that is thought to be complex.

Particular questions we are interested in include (but are not limited to):

  • How has the subject of critique been displaced and/or altered in the shifts from structuralist to poststructuralist to nonstructuralist critique, i.e. does a discourse on complexity resonate more with a focus on cooperation than with one on conflict?
  • Can antagonistic terms such as class and social totality still animate contemporary critique? Is there a place for insolvable conflict in an age where global cooperation seems to be a necessity and not a mere plea?
  • If the excess of life is (over)burdened with both power as well as critical potential against the artificial reductionism and constraint of structure, is external critique bound to be immersed into it or can we bring structure back in?

Confirmed speakers:

Prof David Chandler, University of Westminster

Dr Benjamin Herborth, University of Groningen

Prof Oliver Marchart, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

Dr Dimitrios Sotiropoulos, Open University


We have limited funding available for travel, accommodation and subsistence. Please send abstracts for consideration of not more than 300 words to the organisers by March 9th at the latest. Pol Bargués Pedreny, Kai Koddenbrock, Mario Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt

Politics in Times of Anxiety Conference

Politics in Times of Anxiety Conference, June 9 – 11, 2014

University of Manchester

Speakers: Zygmunt Bauman, Veronique Voruz, Didier Bigo, Michael Dillon, R.B.J. Walker

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, worries over public safety and security became a central issue across the world. The subsequent crisis that broke out in 2008 in the USA and gradually spread in Europe initiated a protracted period of global slump and distressed views on political representation, for example the Occupy movement, the Indignados, or, more recently, uprisings in Greece, Turkey, and Brazil, to name but a few. In these instances, fear about environmental sustainability, economic stability, or social exclusion has permeated the public discourses, creating a strong narrative of an imminent threat, or, uncertainty about the future. These expressions of uncertainty and dissatisfaction are more than mere signs of insecurity. They are attempts at managing, dealing with and manipulating anxiety. The official political discourse aims to identify various different objects of anxiety and secure populations from them (a number of ‘new security threats’ such as the environment, uncertainty, natural disasters etc.); while the political subjects’ responses to the times of anxiety is somewhat different. Some embrace anxiety and see it as a possibility of a radical change in the existing political discourse, others strive to overcome it and seek security. Thus anxiety profoundly questions how we conceive of politics. From classical political action to a different sense of belonging and societal reactions, such as artistic expressions, but also religious ones, what is at stake when anxiety becomes the driving force of politics? This conference aims to engage with the implications anxiety as a phenomena spread across society, personal life, as well as global, regional, and local levels, has on our everyday socio-political reality.
Please submit an abstract of 250 words on by February 28 2014.

Dissenting Methods: London Conference on Critical Thought



For the London Conference on Critical Thought (27-28 June).  See for details of all the streams.
Note that abstracts need to go to the LCCT address below by 10 March.

Stream organisers: Naomi Millner, Julian Brigstocke, Sam Kirwan and Lara Montesinos Coleman with The Authority Research Network.

 What does it mean to be engaged in critical research, today?
 This stream explores the contemporary challenges and limits of critical scholarship by examining the methods we use to engage with, apprehend, and respond to the material struggles of today’s world. We seek both to historicise and to materialise critique, locating a practice always already involved in entanglements of power, experience, or capital, whilst also drawing out the connections with critical praxis more broadly defined. We will focus upon the stakes of critique, asking what forms of collaboration and experimentation might prove effective in confronting political, environmental and economic issues of our time. Such collaborations include not only interpersonal and transnational alliances but also engagements with the political agency of objects, technologies, laws, more-than-human actors, and past and future generations.
 There are long histories of defining critique in relation to praxis, and critical theories from Marxism to post-structuralism have attempted to site the production of critical knowledge against a backdrop of colonial, gendered, and race-inflected power relations. From the 1960s, participatory approaches to methodology have also sought to bridge divides between “activist” forms of knowledge, communities of practice, and academic scholarship. But have we escaped the ivory towers of a complex jargon distanced from everyday understandings and concerns? Should we? What place is there for scholarship within the political, environmental and economic struggles that will define human and more-than-human futures?
 Engaging legacies of the past, defining critical futures
 At the heart of this issue is the experience and performance of temporality. Economic and environmental legacies threaten to colonise the future as well as the present. Moreover, emergent critical theory can sometimes forget the longer trajectories of struggle and invention which have shaped contemporary public institutions, as well its own critical concepts. We are interested in drawing together reflections on critical research as it relates to its own pasts, the place of the scholar in confronting precarious futures, intergenerational exchanges and disconnections, “knowledge-by-experience” through space and time, and the importance of thinking politics for specific historical moments.
 We invite papers engaging within contemporary material struggles which emphasise critical methodologiesscholarship and dissent, and/or the place of academia with a particular emphasis on connecting legacies of the past with critical futures. Contributions may be primarily theoretical or empirical but should relate to attempts to devise methodologies and theories that are adequate to the struggles they confront.
 Please send abstracts for 20-minute papers to with the subject ‘Dissenting methods submission’.

New Perspectives on the Problem of the Public – 15/16 May 2014

The Centre for the Study of Democracy is hosting a two day conference, ‘New Perspectives on the Problem of the Public’ in the Board Room, 309 Regent Street, 15-16 May 2014.

This inter-disciplinary conference brings together researchers from communications and media, built environment, education, geography and political theory to discuss the implications of the rise of new strands of pragmatist, complexity and new materialist approaches to democracy and the public sphere.

We will examine how non-traditional conceptualisations of the ‘public’ might be relevant to various fields of practice and policy making. What roles remain for institutions of governance in a complex, fluid, more pluralist world, less amenable to modernist conceptions of power? What are the implications if representation is increasingly understood as a barrier to the emergence of the public, rather than as a means of accessing it? Does it make sense to think about ‘public goods’ such as health and education if the public can no longer be taken for granted? Could understandings of the public in political theory and policy making be enriched and problematised by their conceptualisations in other academic fields?

Guest speakers:

  • Clive Barnett (Professor of Geography and Social Theory, University of Exeter) – ‘Emergent Publics’
  • Andrew Barry (Professor of Human Geography, University College, London) – ‘Material Politics and the Reinvention of the Public’
  • Jon Coaffee (Professor in Urban Geography, University of Warwick) – ‘Citizenship and Democracy in the City 2.0: Balancing the Quest for Resilience and the Public Interest in Urban Development’
  • John Law (Professor of Sociology, Open University) – title to be confirmed
  • Sarah Whatmore (Professor of Environment and Public Policy, University of Oxford) – ‘Experimental Publics: Science, Democracy and the Redistribution of Expertise’

We invite papers and panel proposals on the following topics (and are keen to include a wide variety of academic fields):

  • new representations of the public
  • the public and the role of teaching/knowledge
  • materials and policy-making
  • space and the production of the public
  • crisis, responsivity and resilience

We have some funding to support travel and subsistence for paper presenters. The deadline for abstracts (250 words) is Friday 21 February 2014. Please send abstracts to Michele Ledda, Robert and David Chandler

CFP: ECPR University of Glasgow

Call for Papers: Power, Politics, and Popular Culture

European Consortium for Political Research General Conference

University of Glasgow, 3-6 September, 2014

Proposal Deadline 15 February, 2010


While the analysis of popular culture has a long provenance in political research as evidenced by the work of Walter Benjamin, David Easton, John Tomlinson, Stuart Hall, and Donna Haraway, there has recently been a renewed interest in exploring how popular culture produces relations of power. Whether it be through analyses of Battlestar Galactica (e.g., Kiersey and Neumann 2012), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Davies 2010; Shepherd 2012), video games (Robinson 2012), alien invasion films (Löfflmann 2013), novels (Shapiro 2013), music (Street 2012), or art (Lisle and Danchev 2009), a growing literature argues that the political power of popular culture must be taken seriously.

Building upon insights into politics and power that have been revealed through the recent cultural turn in political research, this section seeks papers that explore the complex intersections of power, politics and popular culture in their theoretical, historical, comparative, or contemporary dimensions. It is also interested in research that evaluates the state of the art in aesthetic, phenomenological, and representational explorations of contemporary relations of power through popular culture.

Key questions to be considered in papers might include:

  • does popular culture matter in politics, how might it matter, to whom might it matter, and how might its myriad influences be assessed or perceived;
  • what are the methodological issues for examining popular culture in political research–including aesthetic and phenomenological approaches to the analysis of artefacts and power dynamics;
  • what are the political impacts of embodiment, affect, the material design of devices, and the modes through which contemporary media are experienced;
  • how can one analyse cultural forms as a way of problematizing politics and its supporting practices or structures;
  • what is best pedagogical practice in terms of deploying popular culture in the seminar room and/or for teaching appropriate research methods for the field?

Paper and panel proposals are welcome. These must be submitted through the ECPR’s online system at the following address:

If you don’t have an ECPR account you will need to register for one to submit a proposal.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with myself or Matt Davies who are serving as the section convenors.