Archive 2010

Seminar Series 2010


Israel and Palestine: Past and Present

A talk by Avi Shlaim, University of Oxford

Wednesday 3 February 2010, 4:00pm, Richard Hoggart Building 309

A talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict by Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. Avi Shlaim was born in Baghdad in 1945 and grew up in Israel. He is a renowned historian of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and is author of many books including Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine (1988) and The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2000) and editor of The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (2001, 2007). His latest book Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations has recently been published by Verso.

Co-hosted by the Department of Politics, Centre for Postcolonial Studies and Goldsmiths Students’ Union


States, Armies and Empires: Armed Forces and Society in World Politics

A seminar by Dr Tarak Barkawi, senior lecturer in war studies at the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge.

Wednesday 17 February 2010, 5:00-6:30 pm, Senior Common Room, Richard Hoggart Building

This paper offers a critical inquiry into the international organization of violence. The international system of sovereign states entails certain assumptions about polities, armies and societies, assumptions that rest on Eurocentric histories and accounts of political-military relations. This paper critiques these histories and offers an alternative account which locates armed forces amid the world of flows and circulation, and which is based upon the political-military dimensions of imperialism and the co-constitution of core and periphery. Barkawi argues that ‘foreign forces’—those recruited from beyond the boundaries of the polity—have played a key role in the making of the modern world, not least in shaping civil-military relations in the West and enabling intervention and expansion outside it. Here, the international relations of armed force are seen as generative of both domestic and world orders, but not in the manner suggested by Eurocentric inquiry.

Tarak Barkawi specialises in the study of war, armed forces and society with a focus on conflict between the West and the global South. His publications include Globalization and War (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), ‘Peoples, Homelands and Wars? Ethnicity, the Military and Battle among British Imperial Forces in the War against Japan’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 46, #1 (January 2004), and, with Mark Laffey, ‘The Postcolonial Moment in Security Studies’, Review of International Studies, 32, 4 (2006).


After Imperial Reason: Gandhi and the New Cosmopolitanism

A seminar by Mustapha Pasha, Head of International Relations, University of Aberdeen.

Wednesday 3 March 2010, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Senior Common Room, Richard Hoggart Building

Recent reincarnations of Kant’s cosmopolitan meditations rest on the expansive promise of transcending thick, meaning-bearing forms of association and belonging in favour of a thin, but universal (and universalizing), commitment to humanity. The new cosmopolitanism would produce a post-Westphalian ethics in a world of strangers. A key plank of this post-secular sensibility is the evacuation of religious attachments in modernity’s global march. Relying on Gandhi’s critique of modern civilization, this paper challenges the lure of cosmopolitan impulse nested in secularism. Rather, the latter may impose the hegemony of imperial reason in occluding alternatives based on recognition of difference and non-hierarchical cultural agency.

Mustapha Kamal Pasha‘s principal areas of research include Critical International Relations (IR) Theory; Human Security; International Political Economy; and Islamic Studies. He is the author and co-editor of several books, and is currently working on a monograph on the confluence of Islam and IR.


The ‘Roma Problem’ in the EU: Nomadism, (In)visible Architectures and Violence

A seminar by Anca Pusca Politics, Goldsmiths

Tuesday,23 November 2010, 5pm, Richard Hoggart Building 307

This paper argues that the ‘Roma problem’ in the EU is often translated into a ‘space problem’. The targeting of Roma spaces – camps, right to movement, Roma homes and palaces – ultimately challenges the Roma’s right to settlement and insures their invisibility. By turning its attention to the recent politics of Roma expulsions in France, this paper seeks to better understand their implications by looking at: a) the relationship between the Roma’s sedentary vs. nomadic lifestyle; b) the Roma’s use of space to secure both visibility and invisibility; and c) the state’s problematic use of legal violence in order to control and police the Roma. The paper strongly suggests that the Roma ‘space problem’ cannot be solved by attempts to either construct (settlement) or constrict (expulsion) Roma spaces by an outside authority, but rather through an acceptance of Roma’s temporary presence – even if it involves a long-term temporality – in camps ‘abroad’ and continued support for Roma communities ‘at home’.


Elements for a Critical Theory of Intellectuals under Conditions of Informational Capitalism

A seminar by Renate Holub, University of California at Berkeley

Thursday 9 December 2010, 6pm, Senior Common Room, Richard Hoggart Building

When Marx developed his theory of intellectuals, he did so in the context of an economic and political analysis in which intellectuals, located in the ‘superstructure,’ critiqued or legitimated the inequalities and injustices promoted by the controllers of material production processes under conditions of industrial capitalism. Antonio Gramsci, located in a later stage of transatlantic industrial capitalism, attempted to analytically grasp the function of intellectuals under conditions in which a plurality of capitalist state apparatuses reproduced the hegemonies of the political economy. All manner of intellectual strata fulfilled functions in that reproduction. The organizers of new hegemonies were thus required to equally make use of all manner of intellectual strata in the formation of new hegemonies bent towards justice, liberty and equality. In the post-1989 era, critical intellectuals everywhere are faced with extraordinary transformations of the global economies and polities as informational capitalisms increase their share in economic value generation. The new conditions under which critical intellectuals now function require us to search for elements for a critical theory of intellectuals with the capacities to analytically grasp commonality of purpose on a local, regional, and global level. This is particularly important today since over the past 20 to 30 years, large segments of the transatlantic intellectual elites from within the human sciences have either subscribed to the postmodernist dictum of the unpurviewability of social evolutions, or, qua ‘experts’ emerging from within mainstream social sciences,  have conveniently participated in the further fragmentation of social science knowledge by adhering to outdated institutionalized and bureaucratized  principles of mono-disciplinarity. Both positions have ultimately only furthered an increase of poverty and environmental destruction.  I propose in this article that it is by linking the predominant features of informational capitalism to its embeddedness in larger processes of social evolutions in the information age that we can together engage in the development of new forms of norms and values in relation to global justice and democracy. Industrial and financial capitalisms relied on a set of anthropological legitimations which ultimately generated ecological unsustainability, erosion of biodiversity, and existential insecurity. Purporters to informational capitalism adhere to similar legitimations. The historical limits of these norms are clear, particular in the area of economic and jurisprudential theory. Only new anthropological norms and practices in relation to economic jurisprudence and jurisprudential economics  will generate new processes towards global justice and democracy in the organization of production, trade, and culture.

Renate Holub is the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and teaches courses in Social Theory and European Studies. For many years, she has been inspired by the conceptual architecture of Antonio Gramsci. She is at present completing a 3 volume study on: Variable Geographies: Intellectuals, Rights, and States. The first volume is entitled Human Rights before the State: On Vico’s Theory of Global Justice.


Assembling Financial Subjects in the Slum

A seminar by Branwen Gruffydd Jones, Politics, Goldsmiths

Tuesday, December 14, 5:00pm, Senior Common Room, Richard Hoggart Building

Across Asia, Africa and Latin America over the past two decades grassroots urban organisations have formed to struggle for solutions to problems of inadequate housing, sanitation and infrastructure. In 1996 Slum/Shack Dwellers International was formed as an umbrella organisation for this global network of urban ‘people’s organisations’. Many scholars have analysed Slum Dwellers International as a novel form of transnational social movement, an instance of global civil society or grass-roots democratic politics. This paper draws on Foucault’s writings on governmentality to suggest a different understanding of the current role and practice of Slum Dwellers International (SDI). The paper situates SDI within a global complex of organisations and initiatives which promote a neoliberal agenda of ‘slum upgrading’, with financialisation at its core. Using a Foucauldian understanding of neoliberal governmentality, the paper makes sense of SDI’s practices in terms of efforts to construct and assemble social configurations and forms of subjectivity which are required for the financialisation of slums. The activities of SDI can be understood as seeking actively, alongside other agencies, to render slums both governable and ‘bankable’. The analysis is developed with reference to a specific housing project in Ghana.

 

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