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Surplus: Wealth, Waste and Excess

A Birkbeck symposium will take an alternative approach to thinking about austerity

In a time of austerity, cuts and unemployment, a one day symposium held at Birkbeck will approach these issues from the opposite side, looking at wealth, waste and excess.

Three roundtables will consider international and national angles, looking at issues such as land grabs and the food crisis, surplus (of workers) and how this leads to redundancy and urban marginalisation.

The panel of academics and journalists includes: Danny Dorling, Emma M Jones, Esther Leslie, Lisa McKenzie, Joel McKim, James Meadway, John Scanlan, Simon Choat, Eric Swyngedouw and Alberto Toscano.

Dr Alex Colas of Birkbeck’s Department of Politics, who is organising the symposium said:

“All civilizations have been built on surplus – an economic, political or cultural capital over and above a minimum which a given society requires to survive. But how is such surplus defined and measured? How is it produced and distributed?

“We will be looking at the relationships between excess and scarcity, wealth and poverty, waste and conflict, and considering issues including the way the super-rich are transforming London or the connections between global energy and militarism.”

Event details:

Date: 21 June 2013
Time: 10am – 5pm
Venue: Birkbeck, University of London, Room B34

The roundtables will cover the following areas:

Scarcity, Violence and the Global Political Economy
Sue Branford (Latin American Bureau) Anders Dahlbeck (ActionAid) Anna Stavrianakis (Sussex) Erik Swyngedouw (Manchester). Chair: Alex Colas
Themes: agro-food system, land-grabs, militarism, water, energy, capitalist crisis, imperialism.

Redundancy, Precarity and Surplus Populations
Danny Dorling (Sheffield) Lisa McKenzie (Nottingham) James Meadway (NEF) Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths). Chair: Sophie Hope
Themes: super-rich, unemployment, reserve army of labour, racism and riots, social marginalisation, spatialisation of inequality.

Waste, Luxury and Excess
Simon Choat (Kingston), Owen Hatherley (independent writer), Joel McKim (Birkbeck), John Scanlan (Manchester). Chair: Esther Leslie

Themes: Rubbish, ruins and ruination, recycling, urban regeneration, valorisation of waste, excess and the city.


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