Home > Activities > 'Sites of Conflict' Seminar Series 2008/09


'Sites of Conflict'   Seminar Series


  • Kevin McDonald  'Terror and subjectivity: exploring grammars of extreme violence in global movements'
    Analyses of contemporary terrorism are dominated on the one hand by instrumental theories of violence which understand violence as a tool, or by cultural and psychological analyses that approach violence as a pathology of modernity, religion, ‘identity’ or personality.  This paper explores terror as both private experience and public relationship, and considers the extent to which contemporary forms of jihadi violence can be analysed in terms of emerging models of global movement, where we see the importance of global cultural forms such as conspiracy theory, technological mediations such as the Internet, the importance of horror and the extreme, the inexperiencable and the unimaginable that together may constitute a new ‘grammar of violence’.  The paper considers the implications of such violence for the way we attempt to understand and respond to increasingly globalized forms of conflict.
    Professor Kevin McDonald is Marie Curie International Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research centres on contemporary social movements in the context of globalization, his most recent book being Global Movements: Action and Culture (2006).  His current research is entitled ‘Violence and subjectivity in a global movement: jihadi trajectories in Spain and the United Kingdom’, a two-year project exploring emerging forms of increasingly personalised violence charactering jihadi violence in Europe. 
    Wednesday 15th October   3.30 - 5pm   Room 204  Clore Management Centre

  • Wendy Brown    'Porous Sovereignty, Walled Democracy'
    Why the current proliferation of nation-state walls, especially amidst widespread proclamations of global connectedness and anticipation of a world without borders?  And why barricades built of concrete, steel and barbed wire when threats to the nation today are so often miniaturized, vaporous, clandestine, dispersed or networked?  Why walls now and how are they to be understood?   This project considers the recent spate of wall building through the problematic of eroded nation-state sovereignty.  As walls permit infiltration by much of what they formally interdict, confound the distinction between law and lawlessness represented by the nation state, and both highlight and exacerbate tensions between global flows and national anxieties, walls  project an imago of sovereign power that the nation-state cannot sustain.  And as they consecrate the boundary corruption they overtly contest, they signify the ungovernability by law of a range of forces unleashed by globalization.
    Wendy Brown is Emanuel Heller Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley where she is also affiliated with the program in Critical Theory and the program in Women, Gender and Sexuality.  Her books include Regulating Aversion (2006), Edgework (2005), Left Legalism/Left Critique (2002, co-edited), Politics Out of History (2001), States of Injury (1995), and Manhood and Politics (1989).  She is currently working on a book on Marx’s critique of religion and a book on contemporary nation-state walling considered through the theoretical problematic of sovereignty. 
  • Wednesday 19th November   3.30  - 5pm     Room B33    Birkbeck Main Building

  • Tim Lang   'The trouble with food: sectional interest and policy conflict in modern food systems'
    This lecture will explore why food seems to be so troublesome. 1930s and 1940s thinking was so optimistic. Scientists knew what needed to be done. World War 2 horrors had reminded the people, let alone politicians, that food was so important. Worldwide, policies were put in place to encourage output to increase, farmers to grow, and consumers to be able to afford to buy. The model worked…for a time. But quite quickly, certainly by the 1970s, evidence appeared about modern food system’s impact on public health, then the environment and now culture. In the 21st century, food is once again a high profile headache. Some eat too much; others barely if at all. Cultural rules are as varied as biodiversity once was, yet obesity sits alongside anorexia as a ‘social disease’. Enough food is produced to feed 6.7 billion people now but will there be enough for 9 bn in 2040? This lecture will consider some lessons that could be drawn from social rather than technical perspectives.
    Tim Lang  is Professor of Food Policy at City University's Centre for Food Policy in London. In 2006, he was appointed Natural Resources and Land Use Commissioner on the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission where he led the 2008 ‘Green, Healthy and Fair’ report on government’s relations with supermarkets. He is a regular advisor/consultant to the World Health Organisation at global and European levels. He has been a special advisor to four House of Commons Select Committee inquiries (food standards [twice], globalisation and obesity). In 2005-06, he chaired the Scottish NHS Executive’s Scottish Diet Action Plan Review. From 2005, he worked with the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) on its ‘Food Supply in the 21st Century’ programme reporting in October 2008. He was an advisor to the Cabinet Office review of Food and Food Policy published in July 2008. He is a Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health. He is co-author of ‘Food Wars’, ‘The Atlas of Food’ and ‘The Unmanageable Consumer’. His new book ‘Food Policy’ written with City colleagues David Barling and Martin Caraher is due out from Oxford University Press in spring 2009.
    Wednesday 10th December   3.30 - 5pm    Room 204  Clore Management Centre

  • Gail Hornstein      'Who owns the mind?'
    For more than 200 years, psychiatrists have claimed authority over mental life.  They have drawn and redrawn the lines between "normal" and "abnormal" thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, and fought to legitimate their views within medicine and society.  But at every point in psychiatry's history, patients have fought back with their own ideas about madness and treatment.  The closing of public mental institutions across the US, UK, and Europe over the past 25 years has made it possible for current and former psychiatric patients to join together in an international political movement whose approaches now rival those of psychiatrists.  Assumptions about diagnostic frameworks, a "biological basis" for mental illness, and the effectiveness of drug treatment are increasingly under attack as people with first-hand experience of madness develop their own strikingly effective theories and methods.
    Gail A. Hornstein is Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College (USA) and the author of many articles in professional journals and the widely praised biography of the pioneering psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World.  Hornstein’s Bibliography of First-Person Narratives of Madness in English (now in its 4th edition) lists more than 600 titles, and her new book, Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness shows how the ideas of the psychiatric survivor movement can radically reconceive fundamental assumptions about madness and mental life.
    Wednesday 14th January   3.30 - 5pm  Room 204 Clore Management Centre

  • Christopher Scanlon and John Adlam    'Homelessness, dangerousness, disorder and the cycle of rejection: a Cynical analysis?'
    The focus of this presentation is on the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in the system of care and in society. It is based on our direct experience of working with the homeless, the dangerous and the disordered, Our starting point is to observe that despite our best, and at times our worst, efforts ‘to include’, there remains a group of people whose refusal to be included presents us all with significant social problems. The focus of our discussion is to re-locate the problems arising from the anti-social stance at the heart of this refusal from the internal world of the refuser to phenomena associated with what we have calling psychosocial dis-memberment and the ‘un-housed mind (Adlam & Scanlon, 2005, Scanlon & Adlam 2006; 2008a, 2008b). We then explore the complex reciprocal relationship between the housed and the un-housed, society’s members and those that society dis-members and consider some possible implications for those who are tasked with attempting to house, re-member or otherwise to accommodate such people.
    Christopher Scanlon is Consultant Psychotherapist, South London & Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Psychosocial Studies, University of West England, Visiting Lecturer in Forensic Psychotherapy, St George’s University of London, Faculty member at the Institute of Group Analysis (London) and  the Turvey Institute for Group Psychotherapy  and Trustee of the Zito Trust – a major mental health Charity campaigning for improved services for mentally disordered offenders and their victims.
    John Adlam is Principal Psychotherapist, with the St George’s Adult Eating Disorders Service at Springfield University Hospital, Visiting Lecturer in Forensic Psychotherapy at St George’s University of London, freelance organizational consultant and formerly Principal Psychotherapist at  Henderson Hospital Democratic Therapeutic Community until its closure in 2008, He is a member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists and Vice President of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy (IAFP).
    Wednesday 11th   February 3.30 - 5pm   Room 509  Birkbeck Main Building

  • Vikki Bell
    Wednesday 11th March  3.30 - 5pm  Room 152  Birkbeck Main Building

  • Margarita Palacios    'On the Moral Content of Emotional Ties: The Case of “Violent” Youth'
    The current debate on how individualization affects young people has reached a dead end. On the one hand, Communitarians argue that the weakening of social ties is detrimental to community life and that trust is being replaced by indifference and aggression. On the other hand, Foucauldians think that the concern with emotional ties merely represents the governmentality of neoliberal societies: the return of the community is seen as a new form of control and social exclusion. Research on contemporary youth justice and schooling tends to support the second approach, whereas studies on youth violence point to the significance of emotional ties. In this paper, I discuss the possibility of transcending both approaches with a psychoanalytically informed and non-normative conception of intersubjective recognition.
    Wednesday 22nd April   3.30 - 5pm   Room 539  Birkbeck Main Building