Culture and Polity

CCSR’s seminar series for 2012-13 brings together a diverse set of concerns under the heading of Culture and Polity, interrogating urgent questions of cultural change in the context of new forms of community, contemporary commodity forms and government policy. Four years from what is popularly deemed the beginning of the financial ‘crisis’, we are witnessing shifts in the structure and forms of neoliberal governance as attempts are made to limit the effects of draconian reductions in public services, increasing unemployment and the failure of ‘choice’ as the motive defining populations of economic actors.

This series will examine these shifts and their effects in the cultural sphere, with an emphasis on assessing the potential for the unexpected in new alliances, re-configurations and forms of sociality. How can we assess the value of digitisation and the digitisation of value and the modes of subjectivation that it entails? How can we understand the affective modalities mobilised by the discourses of population economics and securitisation? What new political formations might emerge from contests over the meaning of space? What are the effects of public policies that directly impact cultural production?

Digitisation and Value (December 5, 2012)

This session will bring together a range of perspectives on the question of digitization and value, from the spheres of media and cultural studies, digital arts practice, and open source enterprise. To what extent do networked digital technologies enable new forms of human subjectivity, social organization and expressive new forms of culture? Do digital production tools and networked communications provide new modalities of intensity and sensation? Or do the materialities of digitization merely extend the field of neoliberal authority? Can technology offer new tools for building communities and potentially emancipate impoverished groups and environments? How do we conceive of value in a digital world?

Dr Paula Graham: ”Big Society’ and the Digitisation Agenda – Transforming Tower Hamlets?’
Dr Graham is Director of Fossbox and founder of Flossie

Professor Gary Hall: ‘#My Subjectivation’
Professor Hall is Director of the Centre for Disruptive Media, Coventry University and author of Digitize this book! The Politics of New Media(Minnesota UP, 2008)

Dr Roshini Kempadoo: ‘Templating Our Visual Selves: The Question of Critical Aesthetics’
Dr Kempadoo is Reader in Media Studies, School of Arts & Digital Industries, UEL, Digital Image Artist and photographer whose work has recently been shown as part of About Change (World Bank Art Program, Washington DC) and Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions (Art Museum of the Americas, Washington DC)

Professor Susanna Paasonen: ‘Stickiness, Labour & Online Porn’
Professor Paasonen teaches Media Studies at University of Turku, Finland and is the author of Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography(MIT Press, 2011)

For further information please contact Stephen Maddison

Community, Security & Democracy (February 6, 2013)

This is the second seminar in our Culture & Polity series in which our invited speakers will be examining the post-neoliberal subject as produced by the strategies of behavioural economics, security screening and the discourse of virology. What is the meaning of community and the social under these conditions? What forms of governance emerge from new techniques of securitisation and behaviour management and what are the implications for democratic processes?

Room EB.G.10 Docklands Campus

Will Davies: ‘Experiments in Community: Relational Government and Audit After Neoliberalism’.

Will Davies is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick. His research looks at the policy uses of economic techniques and methods, especially with respect to the promotion of competitiveness and wellbeing.

Tony D Sampson: ‘The Immunologic Strategem: How to Spread Fear by Not Specifying Whom Your Enemy Is’

Tony D. Sampson is a Reader in Digital Media and Communications at the University of East London. His ongoing interest in contagion theory is reflected in his recent publications, including The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture (2009), which he coedited with Jussi Parikka, and Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2012. He blogs at

Mark Maguire: ‘Policing the Emotions: Abnormal Behaviour Detection in Counter-Terrorism Operations’

Mark Maguire is Head of the Department of Anthropology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He researches the technologies and processes of securitization, especially counter-terrorism, biometric security, affective computing and the detection of abnormal behaviour and ‘malintent’.

Chair: Debra Benita Shaw, School of Arts & Digital Industries, UEL.

City and Space (March 6th, 2013) 

This is the third seminar in our Culture and Polity series in which our invited speakers will be examining the city both as a concept and as a space marked by social and cultural divisions and in which conflicting notions of community emerge. Has the economic downturn restructured the suburb from paradise to pressure cooker, making it the new inner city precariously perched on the edge? What are the political consequences of the impact of privatisation on city space? The award-winning film-maker John Smith will also present his film ‘Blight’ which revolves around the building of the M11 Link Road in East London, which provoked a long and bitter campaign by local residents to protect their homes from demolition.

Room EB.G.10, Docklands Campus, 5 -7.30pm

Rupa Huq: ‘On the Edge: Rethinking Suburbia in the Downturn’

Rupa Huq is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Kingston University. She both lives and works in suburbia, having previously served as Deputy Mayoress of London Borough of Ealing (2010-11) Her publications include “Beyond Subculture” (2006, Routledge) and “On the Edge” (2013, Lawrence and Wishart).

Mike Raco: ‘State-led Privatisation and the Demise of the Democratic State: Welfare Reform and Localism in an Era of Regulatory Capitalism’

Mike Raco is Professor of Urban Governance and Development in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. He has published widely on the topics of urban governance, regeneration, sustainability, and the politics of urban economic development. Recent books include: State-led Privatisation and the Demise of the Democratic State: Welfare Reform and Localism in an Era of Regulatory Capitalism (Ashgate, Hants.); Regenerating London: Governance, Sustainability and Community in a Global City (with Rob Imrie and Loretta Lees, Routledge, London); and The Future of Sustainable Cities: Critical Reflections (with John Flint, Policy Press, Bristol). 

John Smith: ‘Blight’ (film presentation and discussion)

John Smith lives and works in London. He teaches part-time at the University of East London where he is Professor of Fine Art. He is represented by Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin. Since 1972 he has made over fifty film, video and installation works that have been shown in cinemas, art galleries and on television around the world and awarded major prizes at many international film festivals. Heregularly presents his work in person and in recent years it has been profiled through retrospectives at film festivals in Oberhausen, Tampere, St. Petersburg, La Rochelle, Mexico City, Uppsala, Cork, Bristol, Hull and Glasgow.

Chair: Ashwani Sharma, School of Arts & Digital Industries, University of East London

Public Policy (March 27
, 2013).

Presented in association with Iniva, the fourth and final event in the Centre for Cultural Studies Research’s 2012-13 Culture & Polity explores the question of public policy. As the government’s austerity drive continues to whittle away arts funding while ministers question the very value of the arts in an economy mired in recession, how should artists and arts bodies respond? What might a progressive arts policy look like? Is Britain’s cultural and creative sector under threat, or will hard times inspire aesthetic and political radicalism?

Tessa Jackson:
Chief Executive Officer, Iniva. Tessa has over 25 years experience within the visual arts as a gallery director, curator, and consultant on cultural policy and strategic planning in Britain and internationally. Tessa was the founding Artistic Director of Artes Mundi, Wales’ International Visual Art Exhibition and Prize, a role she held from 2002-10. She combined this with running her own consultancy, International Cultural Development. Tessa has curated recent exhibitions by NS Harsha, Chen Chieh-jen and Zineb Sedira.

Áine O’Brien: Áine is Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts, London, and leads on creative direction at Pivotal Arts, Dublin. She created FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications), the predecessor to Pivotal Arts, in 2007, and co-founded the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice (CTMP), a doctoral research centre specializing in researching migration through creative arts and media practice. Her productions to date (film, print and curation) explore global storylines linking migration, creative documentary and social change. She is currently developing a collaborative project in London titled Neighbourhoods: Documentary Practice, Everyday Integration and Public Participation.

Gavin Poynter:
Professor and Chair, London East Research Institute, University of East London. Gavin has widely published on ‘London 2012’, the economics of the service industries and urban regeneration. He has completed several studies on the East London region, including for the OECD/DCLG, GLA, and local boroughs. He is the co-editor (with Andrew Calcutt Iain MacRury) of London After Recession: A Fictitious Capital?

Cecilia Wee: London Regional Council of Arts Council England. Cecilia is a curator, writer and broadcaster who produces projects in the fields of experimental sound, performance and visual art practices, looking at issues around cultural understandings of militarised combat, economic systems and sustainable development. Cecilia is Visiting Lecturer in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She is Chair of the Live Art Development Agency, a Council Member of Resonance FM and a member of the Artquest Advisory Board.

Chair: Tim Lawrence, Co-director, CCSR, School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London.

This event will take place at PS2, Iniva, Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DZ. 6:30-8:30pm

Admission £7/£5

Digitisation and Value will take place in room EB1.45. All subsequent seminars are in room EB.G.10, East Building, Docklands Campus

Centre for Cultural Studies Research