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Autumn Term 2016

20 October: Professor Didier Bigo (Department of War Studies, KCL) Digital Surveillance and Everyday Democracy: The Advent of Transnational Guilds of Sensitive Information Worldwide

Abstract: The post-Snowden disclosures about the practices of the Five Eyes alliance highlight central features of contemporary international politics affecting human rights, liberal regimes and democratic practices. The cornerstone of the rise of transnational surveillance actors is the centrifugal dynamics under which asymmetric cooperation between intelligence agencies has expanded hugely, while the easiness of intrusive surveillance of large groups of suspects, and the capacity to legalise such surveillance, has been justified by the context of a global counter-terrorism; necessitating, in the view of the services, politicians and most of their contractors, the monitoring of everyday practices of communication to detect anomalies and abnormal behaviours in order to prevent terrorist attacks. The lecture will analyse these different features and how they are transforming international politics and everyday democratic practices.

3 November: Dr. Tanya Serisier (School of Law, Birkbeck) Speaking Out Online: Has Social Media Changed Responses to Sexual Violence?

Abstract: Recent years have seen the growth of online feminist activism against sexual violence, particularly on social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr. This activism has been hailed as part of a ‘new wave’ of feminist activism, challenging victim-blaming cultures and confronting the failures of the criminal justice system, as well as other institutions such as universities, major sporting organisations, and the media and entertainment industries, to respond adequately to sexual violence. In the most positive depictions of the new wave of feminism, social media allows survivors to share their stories, find engaged and supportive audiences, challenge institutional rape myths and victim-blaming, and participate in activism leading to social and political change.There is, however, also ample evidence that online spaces are subject to the same power relations and inequalities as offline spaces, or even that these power inequalities may be amplified. Online feminist activism has been criticised for assuming the universality of white and middle-class women’s experiences. There have also been strong accompanying critiques about the fact that, in an age of mass incarceration and violent border policing, many online feminist campaigns continue to call uncritically for harsher penalties and more policing as a response to sexual violence. In addition to this, the social media platforms used by feminists and survivors for their activism, have become increasingly well-known for public displays of virulent misogyny, directed disproportionately against women of colour. This paper makes use of select examples to explore the impacts of social media on feminist activism around sexual violence, and social responses to accounts of this violence.

Watch this event here.

24 November: Dr Nando Sigona (School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham) The EU's 'refugee crisis' and the production of 'illegality'

Abstract: The paper will explore the nexus between policy responses to the so-called 'refugee crisis' in the EU and the production of illegalized subjects. It addresses the 'crisis' as agonistic terrain where competing political agendas are articulated and highlights how they impact on boat migrants who crossed the Mediterranean irregularly to reach the EU's southern shores.

You can watch this event here.

8 December: Dr Nicholas Lord (School of Law, University of Manchester) 21st Century Corporate ‘Justice’: Criminalising the Failure to Prevent Crime

Abstract: This talk analyses an approach to corporate justice concerned with criminalising failures to prevent serious crimes within and by UK corporations. I argue that this ‘vicarious’ turn away from the pursuit of ‘substantive’ guilt is emerging as the default 21st century response to global, corporate elites implicated in serious financial crimes. Historically, nation states have faced notable legal, evidential, structural, procedural and financial obstacles underpinned by problems of absent state knowledge and power when seeking to hold corporate criminals to account. In this context, the emergence of organisational fault characterises both ideological and normative, and practical and pragmatic, preferences for responding to ‘big business’. To evidence this I analyse recent developments in relation to corporate bribery in international business where legislation creates an offence of commercial enterprises failing to prevent bribery within the organisational structure. The shift to criminalising organisational fault has symbolic importance but practical inadequacy, raising concerns over the redefinition and communication of what ‘justice’ looks like in cases of corporate deviance.

You can watch this event here.