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Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies at UEL

Stuart Hall, the globally-respected and much-loved public intellectual and giant of cultural studies, who has just died, had a huge influence on the development of Sociology and Cultural Studies at the University of East London.

UEL (then still North East London Polytechnic) was the first university in the UK to establish an undergraduate degree in, and later a department of, Cultural Studies. The BA, launched in 1980, was developed by a group of UEL staff several of whom had had strong links with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham, the unit directed by Stuart Hall. Continue reading Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies at UEL

The Art of Protest Podcasts

CCSR’s ‘The Art of Protest’ seminar – which looked at the art and music of the recent student protests – took place yesterday (2nd March 2011) and was a well attended event that produced a stimulating discussion. Listen to full audio recordings of Dan Hancox’s, Adam Harper’s and Jesse Darling’s papers here (The Art Of Protest) and the discussion they generated here (The Art of Protest discussion).

‘Women, Work, Equality: From Dagenham to the Coalition Cuts’ Podcast

Professor Maggie Humm reported that the ‘Women, Work, Equality: From Dagenham to the Coalition Cuts’ event was a key finale to our successful seminar series, ‘women are being hit disproportionately by the Budget cuts. Studies show they will carry three-quarters of the burden because they rely more on benefits, and two-thirds of public sector workers are women (77% of the NHS). Women are also over-represented in part-time and hourly paid jobs. Already more than 30,000 women a year lose their jobs due to pregnancy’.

Continue reading ‘Women, Work, Equality: From Dagenham to the Coalition Cuts’ Podcast

New CCSR Publication

Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film by Anat Pick

Simone Weil once wrote that “the vulnerability of precious things is beautiful because vulnerability is a mark of existence.” With these words, she established a relationship among vulnerability, beauty, and existence that transcends the boundaries separating the species. Her conception of a radical ethics and aesthetics could be characterized as a new “poetics of species,” that forces us to rethink the significance of the body, both human and animal. Exploring the “logic of flesh,” or how art and culture use the body to mark species identity, Anat Pick reimagines a poetics that begins with the vulnerability of bodies, not the omnipotence of thought.

Offering a powerful alternative to more personalist visions of morality, Pick proposes a “creaturely” approach based on the shared embodiedness of humans and animals and a postsecular perspective on human-animal relations. She turns to literature, film, and other cultural texts that prioritize the inhuman and challenge the familiar inventory of the human (consciousness, language, morality, and dignity). She reintroduces Weil’s crucially important work and its elaboration of themes such as witnessing, commemoration, and collective memory, and she moves away from assumptions about animal “otherness” and nonhuman subjectivities. Pick identifies the “animal” within all humans, emphasizing the corporeal and its issues of power and freedom. In her creaturely view, powerlessness is the point at which both aesthetic and ethical thinking must begin.

Debra Benita Shaw at University of Surrey Conference on the Emergence of the Posthuman Subject

On 3rd July, 2010, CCSR committee member Debra Benita Shaw spoke at the University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies conference The Emergence of the Posthuman Subject. She delivered a paper entitled ‘Posthuman Remains: Contemporary Biopolitics and the Consumption of Undeath’ which interrogated the fascination with life extension techniques and how they can be understood in terms of the way that neoliberalism constructs contemporary subjectivities.

ACS Crossroads in Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, 2010

CCSR committee member Debra Benita Shaw and Sarah Baker, a former doctoral candidate at UEL, attached to CCSR, who was recently awarded her PhD, presented papers at the 8th Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, June 17th – 21st, 2010. Sarah’s paper, called ‘Retro Homes and the Value of ‘Authentic’ Iconicity’ discussed the results of ethnographic research among ‘retro’ enthusiasts in the UK. Debra’s paper, ‘Investment Strategies in the Genomic Domain: The Life Cycle of homo oeconomicus’ presented the results of ongoing research into the connection between evolutionary psychology and contemporary neo-liberalism.

Started in 1996 in Tampere, Finland, the Crossroads Conferences were to fill what was felt to be a gap in the international cultural studies community. Since then it had become one of the most important international conferences in cultural studies where scholars from all five continents get together to exchange their scholarly insights as well as to get in touch with different cultures. Organized by the Association for Cultural Studies (ACS), Crossroads conference is now held every two years in different parts of the world: Birmingham in UK, Illinois in US, Istanbul in Turkey and Kingston in Jamaica. This was the first time it had been held in East Asia