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DISSENT IN DARK TIMES 2021. A Weekend of Critical Thought, convened by Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in partnership with the London Review of Books.

Venue: Online

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We held our first Dissent in Dark Times weekend just as the virus was spreading  across the planet – and it wormed its way into our thoughts and discussions. A couple of weeks later and Birkbeck, where the event took place, was largely inaccessible. Our next symposium cannot but help configure itself in relation to all that the pandemic has exposed. The pandemic on its own has not created the global crises we are living through, but it has exacerbated them, and has brought aspects to light in new ways: health, wealth and race inequalities; bio-political coercions; immigration and  exclusion at the borders; the acceleration of climate change; animal-human relations and the state of industrial farming; the possibilities and risks of political action; the authority of governments and experts versus that of local initiatives and the proliferation of conspiracy theorists; and perhaps above all what shapes the future may adopt and what should be fought for. It is also the context in which significant things have shifted: the change of US president; the ongoing protests of Black Lives Matter; the extensions of the virtual world rapidly into many areas of life; the disruption for many of usual activities and the proliferation of newly designated identities, such as furloughed employees and keyworkers. We need a forum to talk about all this: to question, to explore, to listen, to debate and to reflect on this exceptional period when across the world, for a multitude of reasons, so many citizens have decided that manifestations of dissent have become more pressing and cannot be wound down, even in times of pandemic and lockdown.

In this spirit, and in collaboration with the London Review of Books, Birkbeck, University of London, is thrilled to announce two days of critical thought about our current times. You are invited to join leading thinkers in their fields for two days of talks and discussion. Confirmed speakers: Hazel Carby, Aviah Sarah Day, Costas Douzinas, Jeremy Harding, John Lanchester and Behrouz Boochani with Omid Tofighian, will join moderators Esther Leslie and Jacqueline Rose, Co-Directors of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, in conversation. Members of the public, students and academics alike from anywhere in the world are invited to come together to listen, learn and contribute to a unique debate about the role of dissent in addressing the challenges of our contemporary world.

Those who attend the event will be given advance access to pre-recorded presentations by our speakers, to be made available a week before the event, as a prelude to the weekend of conversation, debate and dialogue.

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