Culture, Power and Politics Seminar Series
Sessions for 2018
All 6:30pm – 8:30 pm
All Sessions @ Doomed Gallery,: 65-67 Ridley Road, Dalston, London, E8 2NP
All welcome – no charge – no booking required
All hosted and led by Jeremy Gilbert, usually with guests
For many sessions there is some suggested reading listed, but reading it is not obligatory.
For more information about this seminar series including an extensive archive of recordings click here.
April 24th 2018
#metoo / #ImWithHer: feminism, liberalism and the politics of gender
What does Harvey Weinstein’s exposure and fall tell us about our moment? How are gendered relations changing and what is the condition of feminism in the 21st century? What are the most useful ways of conceptualising gendered power today – is it sexism, misogyny, patriarchy or male privilege that feminism is fighting, or are they all the same thing? What has been at stake in the politicisation now, and for the historical women’s movement, of issues like sexual harassment alongside more ‘basic’ economic issues such as equal pay and access to childcare? And what are we to make of the growing tendency of centrist neoliberal politicians like Hilary Clinton appealing to liberal feminism as their main source of legitimacy?
Suggested Reading: http://www.bgu.ac.il/~rottenbe/The%20rise%20of%20neoliberal%20feminism.pdf
Democracy is in the Streets: Fifty Years of 1968
With Hilary Wainwright
May 1968 saw an escalation of protests and political actions by students and workers in France, leading a situation of near-revolution that lasted for several weeks and re-set the terms of political debate for a generation.
Although ‘the events of May’ are remembered as the most obvious and symbolic expression of the revolutionary spirit in that moment, ‘May 1968’ was only one episode in an international series of events and struggles against the bureaucratic cultures of post-war welfare capitalism and the Stalinist ‘socialism’ of the Soviet bloc, from the early 60s to the mid- 80s. This was the moment when the counterculture, student radicalism, Black Power and a new wave or working class militancy coincided with a wave of global anti-imperial struggle and the birth of the women’s movement, the green movement and Gay Liberation.
The consequence of these struggles, their partial defeats and limited victories have been colossal: arguably the adoption of neoliberal policies by governing elites across the globe was motivated as much as anything by the need to contain their demands for radical democracy and collective freedom. On the other hand, sceptics have argued that the counterculture and the New Left undermined working class solidarity, ultimately paving the way for a postmodern culture of narcissism, hedonism and futile identity politics.
The implications of these movements and the debates that they provoked were decisive and long-lasting for the development of radical philosophy, political theory and cultural studies . What is the significance of this history for contemporary radicalism? And would it be accurate to say that ‘1968’ didn’t happen in Britain until 1982?…
Hilary Wainwright remembers 1968 and has been involved in radical politics since the 1960s, playing a key role on the British Left through much of that time. She is the founding editor of Red Pepper and the author of several books, the most recent of which was published this year, titled A New Politics from the Left. Jeremy Gilbert wasn’t born in 1968, but that hasn’t stopped him writing and saying quite a lot about it. On the 50th anniversary of May 1st 1968, they will discuss all of these issues and any others that arise.
Work, Debt, Creativity, Resistance: An Introduction to the thought of Maurizio Lazzarato
Maurizio Lazzarato is best known for having coined the term ‘immaterial labour’ as a way of describing the many forms of work in the contemporary economy that do not produce physical outputs, but are concerned with the production of knowledges, information-flows, moods, and experiences. But his work extends way beyond this analysis, drawing on the tradition of ‘autonomist’ Marxism and the ideas of thinkers such as Foucault and Guattari to offer one of the most powerful and engaged analyses of neoliberal culture, contemporary capitalism, and the organisation forms that resistance to it requires.
This year sees the publication of the English translation of one of his most important works, Experimental Politics. This book provides an account of a key episode in recent French political history – the highly innovative struggle to defend the rights of precarious creative workers that emerged in the summer of 2003 – and uses it to offer one of the most profound analyses to date of the nature of advanced neoliberalism and its complex relationship to creative practice of all kinds. The book was translated by a team of Arianna Bove, Jeremy Gilbert, Andrew Goffey, Mark Hayward and Jason Read, with Jeremy providing a long critical introduction to the book and Lazzarato’s ideas.
In this seminar Jeremy will explain how those ideas have developed and why they are so relevant for contemporary radical politics.
Wars and Capital
This year also sees the publication of the English Edition of Lazzarato’s recent collaboration with philosopher Éric Alliez: Wars and Capital.
Here is the blurb from the publishers catalogue:
“We are at war,” declared the President of the French Republic on the evening of November 13, 2015. But what is this war, exactly?
In Wars and Capital, Éric Alliez and Maurizio Lazzarato propose a counter-history of capitalism to recover the reality of the wars that are inflicted on us and denied to us. We experience not the ideal war of philosophers, but wars of class, race, sex, and gender; wars of civilization and the environment; wars of subjectivity that are raging within populations and that constitute the secret motor of liberal governmentality. By naming the enemy (refugees, migrants, Muslims), the new fascisms establish their hegemony on the processes of political subjectivation by reducing them to racist, sexist, and xenophobic slogans, fanning the flames of war among the poor and maintaining the total war philosophy of neoliberalism.
Because war and fascism are the repressed elements of post-’68 thought, Alliez and Lazzarato not only read the history of capital through war but also read war itself through the strange revolution of ’68, which made possible the passage from war in the singular to a plurality of wars—and from wars to the construction of new war machines against contemporary financialization. It is a question of pushing “’68 thought” beyond its own limits and redirecting it towards a new pragmatics of struggle linked to the continuous war of capital. It is especially important for us to prepare ourselves for the battles we will have to fight if we do not want to be always defeated.
In this seminar Éric and Maurizio will introduce and discuss some of the key arguments and ideas from this important new work.
Eyes Right: Trumpism, Brexit and the rise of the alt-right
The Brexit vote and Trump’s election both seem to mark a terminal crisis for the liberal cosmopolitan consensus that has obtained in the English-speaking world since the 1990s. In both cases, centrist elites have been quick to blame external agencies (Cambridge Analytica, Vladimir Putin, etc.), apparently unable to believe that it is the effects of their own policies that have led to them losing significant levels of public support. At the same time, concerns over national identity, and hostility to multiculturalism and immigration, continue to inform the politics of the Right in many ways: from the casual English xenophobia of UKIP the extreme racism of the alt-right. How can we make sense of all this and what can we do about it?
Suggested Reading: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n10/alan-finlayson/brexitism\
May 29th – No session
Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century (I)
with Alex Williams
Gramsci’s concept of ‘hegemony’ remains indispensable to understanding the relationships between culture, politics, economics and technology. Every generation since the 1930s has had to update the idea and its application in the light of new developments in the wider world and in the domain of theory and philosophy. In this session Alex and Jeremy will introduce some key concepts and analyses from their forthcoming book Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century (Verso, 2019). This will be the fist of two seminars in the series to will explore this material.
Art, Glitch, Politics
with Debra Benita Shaw
At a time when the meaning of democracy is challenged by the power of algorithms and the politics of misinformation what has become apparent is that the valorisation of data is the defining characteristic of contemporary digital capitalism. Big Data is sold on the basis of accurate retrieval; the promise that a series of perfect signals can be abstracted from the background noise of the world’s incessant uploading of information.
Against this background, the rise of digital ‘glitch’ art is interesting in terms of how it privileges noise over signal and aestheticises error. Glitch artists randomly re-assort ordered sequences to demonstrate that order itself is arbitrary, contingent and open to transduction. In deliberately confounding the apparently smooth interface through which digital messages are received, the glitch aesthetic suggests a productive imagery for a politics which confronts the hierarchies embedded in and reproduced by digital culture.
This seminar is also part of this year’s programme for Antiuniversity 2018
Black Lives Matter – ‘race’, bodies and biopolitics in the 21st century
The Black Lives Matter movement has seen arguably the most significant revival of Black radicalism in the English-speaking world for many years. What has led to this situation and what are the political, historical and theoretical issues raised by it? Is ‘black’ still a meaningful term of political identification for non-white peoples outside the African diaspora? What is the legacy of slavery and colonialism in the contemporary West? Why is racism amongst police forces such a perpetually intractable problem, even in apparently liberal countries like the UK (is the very concept of policing, as Foucault seemed to suggest, itself just inherently racist?). How have new philosophies of materiality and embodied experience contributed to the understanding of ‘race’ as a historical and lived experience? What is the place of ‘black music’ in contemporary culture, 100 years in to the history of recorded sound, and what was been the historical relationship of music to black radicalism?
Directly after this seminar there will be a meeting to set up a reading group focussing on theories of race, colonialism, post-coloniality etc, open to anyone who is interested in joining.
The Right to the City: politics, place and policy in neoliberal London
London’s housing market is in crisis because the global super-rich use our homes as piggy-banks and the government does nothing to stop them. Rent is becoming completely unaffordable (never mind buying a place). Gentrification is killing cultural venues all over the city, as overpriced flats crowd out the places where people gather to make some noise. At the heart of the city, the Corporation of the City of London is a law unto itself, and isn’t even democratically elected. The residents of Grenfell Tower have still not been re-housed. None of this is happening by accident, and none of it is going to change without a radical re-think of what London is for, and a radical challenge to the power of finance capital. In this session we’ll discuss these issues with two expert campaigners, and think about how they fit into the wider history of global neoliberalism.
PFI: The Financialisation of Everything
With Grace Blakely
The ‘Private Finance Initiative’ still sounds like a dry, technical procedure that nobody could get too excited about. That’s what it’s supposed to sound like. Journalists and government have colluded for 25 years in making sure that the public don’t take too much interest in it.
In fact the PFI has been central to UK government policy since the mid 1990s and has been the vehicle through which huge chunks of the British public sector have been privatised without any mandate from the people. One of Stuart Hall’s last great public interventions was to call for the launch of a public campaign against this programme in 2000 – he could see how serious its implications were.
The story of the Private Finance Initiative reached its long-predicted denouement this year with the collapse of Carillion, a company employing 43,000 workers, responsible for dozens of contracts to deliver services across the UK public sector. The biggest bankruptcy in British history has exposed what many economists and political commentators have been saying for years: the PFI was a disastrous policy that was never really intended to benefit the public, but to enable multinational corporations to generate vast profits at the expense of the tax-payer, local authorities, schools and hospitals
But what exactly is the PFI, how does it work, and why are the Blairites still opposed to actually scrapping it?
Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century (II)
with Alex Williams
This session will continue the discussion begun on June 5th .
Recent years have seen a remarkable new wave of engagement between radical political movements and established institutions of government and party politics; with decidedly mixed results. From the Syriza experiment to the emergence of Corbynism, what lessons can be learned, and how can we best hope to take advantage of the opportunities for radical democracy which the twenty-first century affords? What forms of leadership, strategy and organisation are possible and necessary in this new period?
Acclaimed thinker and co-author of several key works with Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, will discuss these issue – as well as themes from their new book, Assembly – with Marina Prentoulis, Jeremy Gilbert and other participants in the seminar.
Saturday October 14th 2017
Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU
Free, all welcome, no advanced booking, please arrive promptly as space will be very limited.
Michael will also be speaking at a ticketed event in Finsbury Park earlier the same afternoon:‘ Opening the Commons: Technology, Leadership and Organisation in conversation with Michael Hardt on Assembly’.
UEL Centre for Cultural Studies Research
Women, Benefit Shaming
and the Dismantling of Welfare
A Feminist Critique of Neoliberalism
Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London
University Square Stratford, Room USG 17
Wednesday May 31st 2017, 6:30 pm
Professor Angela McRobbie has been a leading figure in Cultural Studies since the mid-1970s. Her published work encompasses books and articles on feminist theory, gender and popular culture, fashion and creative economy, and working lives in the culture industries. She is currently Mercator Fellow, Germany where she is completing a book on feminism and the culture of neoliberalism (polity 2018).
Her most recent books include
This lecture makes an argument about the centrality of women’s participation in work and in family life as a critical tenet of contemporary neoliberalism’s dismantling of welfare. A key means for effecting this change includes a gendered modality of benefit shaming.
Admission is free to all and there is no need to book.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/403413620031992/
Date: 9 March 2017 6.00pm
Launch of Stuart Hall’s Selected Political Writings
Venue: University of East London, University Square Stratford (five minutes from Stratford Underground)
Bill Schwarz (Queen Mary University)
Roshi Naidoo (Soundings)
Jeremy Gilbert (University of East London)
Chair: Sally Davison (Lawrence and Wishart and Soundings).
At 7.30pm there will be a drinks reception to celebrate the book and the establishment of a Stuart Hall Fellowship at the University of East London.
Organised by Lawrence and Wishart, The University of East London and the Stuart Hall Foundation,
Admission is free, but tickets should be booked in advance.
Stuart Hall’s Selected Political Writings contains eighteen of his outstanding political contributions, including his writing on the New Left, Thatcherism and neoliberalism. It is published by Lawrence and Wishart in January 2017. .
Book Launch &Discussion of
Alternatives to Neoliberalism –
Towards Equality and Democracy
Tuesday 14th March 6.0 pm
University of East London
USG.19, University Square Stratford,
Salway Rd, E15 1NF
(DLR, Jubilee, Central & rail lines to Stratford station)
Anna Coote~ Jeremy Gilbert~ Bryn Jones~ Mike O’Donnell
All welcome, no charge
OR contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information at: alternativestoneoliberalism.org;
What is the nature of the current historical conjuncture?
Does Brexit mark the limit point of the the 30-year phase of neoliberalisation, or a new intensification of the long hegemony of the Right?
Two events were held in the same week….
The End Of Neoliberalism?
15th december: 10am-5pm
The Audio of this is now available on our podcast feed
City university, college building, room a130
272-278 St John St, London EC1V 4PB
Free, all welcome, no need to book
In 2016, almost a decade after the worst financial crisis for eighty years, it seems there are signs that neoliberalism is finally in retreat. The ruling common sense of policy makers, economists, business people, and mainstream journalists on a global basis since the 1980s, neoliberalism had seemed all but indefatigable. Yet a series of signs today point towards a radical shift. From the rise of new populist political movements on the left and the right, to the seeming reversal of global trade, and the calamitous brexit vote in the uk, the existing state of neoliberal affairs is in a process of transition. Underpinning many of these indicators is a shift in political logic, from one which placed the market at the centre of human life, to one which is focused on preservation of the border. The questions that arise from this confluence of events are multiple:
- Is this the end of neoliberalism, or a point of inflection towards a new mutation?
- Is neoliberalism merely equivalent to the process of globalisation, or not?
- Is this a global ‘hegemonic crisis’?
- What happens to existing neoliberal regimes and modes of governance once the border takes precedence over the market?
- Can this transformation be said to have been generated by neoliberalism itself?
- How is this shift inflected by particular local cultural, social, political, and economic conditions?
- Is the future one of ethno-nationalist fascism or some other form of authoritarianism?
- What does rising nationalism look like in an era of global technological communications?
- What are the prospects for contending this crisis from the left?
Christine Berry: principal director for policy & government, New Economics Foundation.
Aditya Chakrabortty: senior economics commentator for The Guardian.
William Davies: reader in political economy at goldsmiths, university of london and author of The Limits Of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty And The Logic Of Competition.
Sara Farris: senior lecturer in sociology at goldsmiths, university of london. She is currently a member of the editorial board of historical materialism and international book review editor for critical sociology.
Alan Finlayson: professor of political and social theory at the university of east anglia. He is also chair of the editorial board of the political journal Renewal.
Jeremy Gilbert: professor of cultural and political theory at the university of east london and the editor of New Formations.
Jo Littler: reader in the centre for cultural industries in the dept of sociology, city, university of london. Her new book Against Meritocracy will be published next year.
James Meadway: economic advisor to the shadow chancellor.
Catherine Rottenberg: marie sklodowska curie fellow in the sociology department, goldsmiths and senior lecturer in the department of foreign literatures and linguistics and the gender studies program, ben-gurion university of the negev, beer sheva, israel. Her most recent publication is
“neoliberal feminism and the future of human capital” forthcoming in Signs.
Alex williams: lecturer in the centre for culture and the creative industries, in the dept. of sociology at city, university of london. He is the author of Inventing The Future: Postcapitalism and A World Without Work.
Who Broke Britain?
Presented by the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London as part of the Culture, Power, Politics series (go to the website if you would like to listen to the podcast)
December 12th 2016 6:30-8:30 pm (or a bit later…)
With Ayeisha Thomas-Smith (Compass), Anthony Barnett (open Democracy) and Jeremy Gilbert (UEL)
Open School East
The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ
All welcome – no prior booking required
This seminar will be the latest occasional instalment in the ‘Culture, Power and Politics‘ series, bringing together many of the conceptual themes discussed over the past year to understand what is happening to British politics, society and culture at the end of a tumultuous year.
In the 1970s the politics of the New Right created an unlikely fusion between anti-state individualism and authoritarian social conservatisim. Today, the contradictory effects of these agendas have driven the country to breaking point. The UK is falling apart, as England votes for Brexit while the rest of the country, including London, looks on aghast and wonders if there is a way out. A 40-year campaign of misinformation by the popular press has carried our political culture into the age of ‘post-truth politics’ . The inability of the technocratic elite to manage post-democratic societies has been brutally revealed by Brexit. How did we get here and where are we going?