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Upcoming summer school


The 2021 London Critical Theory Summer School will take place from 29 June to 9 July. It will build directly on the highly successful virtual school in 2020 that was attended by students from 25 countries. Our hopes for the 2021 Summer School are to once again run this on Birkbeck's campus in central London. 

If this proves to be impossible, due to the ongoing pandemic, we are planning a full-scale virtual Summer School with the same speakers and topics. Attendees will be offered a substantial programme of talks, debates, breakout groups and discussions as well as access to archival resources.

In 2021 we will be subjecting themes and topics covered in our Summer School in 2020 to further critical elaboration, exploring strategies of resistance during a period of ever intensifying global challenges. Each Summer School explores the genealogy and reach of critical theory, whilst encouraging intellectual elaboration and reflection. Our aim is to stimulate progressive, dissident being and thinking.

The need for such thinking has dramatically increased in the past few years which witnessed the advent of leaders across the world - Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson, Modi, Erdoğan, Orbàn and the massive global inequality to which they attest and have exacerbated, the inhumane asylum policies and increasingly licensed ethno-nationalism, racism and misogyny which they sanction, the forms of historical forgetting which they appear to demand. All this now aggravated by a global pandemic which presents new challenges to our ability to live and our capacity for critical thought, as we reflect on the meanings, and possibility, of justice and equality in our pandemic-driven world.

We invite students to immerse themselves in two weeks of discussion and debate in the company of our leading tutors. In 2021, we are delighted to welcome new speakers, Jodi Dean, Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall, alongside our returning speakers, Etienne Balibar, Costas Douzinas, Stephen Frosh, Esther Leslie, Jacqueline Rose and Slavoj Žižek.


  • Etienne Balibar, Emeritus Professor at Paris X Nanterre and Anniversary Chair of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London, 'The Human Species: a Mutant Concept and a New Political Subject'
  • Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York, 'Communism or Neofeudalism'
  • Costas Douzinas, 'Biopolitics, Law and Politics in an Age of Pandemic'
  • Stephen Frosh, 'Shadows of Suffering'
  • Esther Leslie, 'Political Aesthetics of the Present'   
  • Achille Mbembe, Research Professor in History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economy Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 'On Planetary Habitability'.
  • Sarah Nuttall, Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies and Director of the Wits Institute for Social and Economy Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, ‘Psychoanalysis and the Non-Human?'
  • Jacqueline Rose, 'Thinking with Psychoanalysis in a Time of Pandemic'
  • Slavoj Žižek, 'Humanity, Anti-Humanism, Post-Humanity'  


  • Etienne Balibar, 'A Strategic Issue in the COVID-19 Crisis: Public Services Between the State and the Common'
  • Stephen Frosh in conversation with Fakhry Davids, Psychoanalyst and Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 'Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytical Approach to Race and Difference'
  • Esther Leslie, 'Herd Immunity and Recognition in the Present'
  • Jacqueline Rose, 'Violence Seen and Unseen - Truth in a Time of Pandemic'
  • Slavoj Žižek, 'Power, Appearance and Obscenity in the Viral Desert'