The Politics of Debt: Concepts and experiences of debt have become central to the management of contemporary capitalism, to understandings of its consequences and to social experience at every scale. National debt, personal debt, ecological debt are key issues for understanding contemporary culture and politics. But what exactly is debt? Can we manage without it? Are current levels of personal, national, corporate and ecological debt sustainable; and what are the origins of this most fundamental concept?
Focusing on the themes of debt, pain, and work, the coalition government has attempted to build a new common sense around the need for deep public sector spending cuts, the curtailment of strategic health authority and local governmental influence in the provision of health and education, and the sweeping shift from public sector to private sector delivery. This academic year the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at UEL is holding three linked seminars on the themes of Debt (13 October), Pain (December 1) and Work (date to be confirmed) in order to interrogate the substance of the government’s strategy. Each event will be held at UEL’s Docklands Campus in East London, and will feature speakers from a range of activist, journalistic and research backgrounds.
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.
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