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10th Annual Aberystwyth-Lancaster Graduate Colloquium

Claus Moser Building, Keele University

14th-16th June 2012




Keynote Speakers:

Professor Michael Shapiro (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Professor Mark Duffield (Bristol University)




The ALGC is a forum in which graduate students explore and discuss critical and post-structuralist approaches to global politics. The colloquium provides a friendly environment for students to present their ideas and receive feedback from other students and scholars in the field, as well as to engage in some lively debates about the future of critical scholarship. The ALGC is organised by students and for students with the support of academic staff.


Registration is free, all are welcome, please email Corey Walker-Mortimer at: c.b.walker-mortimer@ilpj.keele.ac.uk


Hosted by the Emerging Securities Research Unit and the Centre for the Study of Politics, International Relations and the Environment (RC4SPIRE)

Sponsored by The Research Institute for Social Sciences, Keele University, and the BISA Poststructural Politics Working Group


Introduction

The ALGC is a forum in which graduate students explore and discuss critical and post-structuralist approaches to global politics. The colloquium provides a friendly environment for students to present their ideas and receive feedback from other students and scholars in the field, as well as to engage in some lively debates about the future of critical scholarship. The ALGC is organised by students and for students with the support of academic staff.

In 2012, the 10th version of the colloquium will be hosted by The Emerging Securities Unit at Keele University. InSpire – Journal of Law, Politics and Societies aims to publish a special summer issue of papers presented as the Colloquium.


Programme

Thursday 14th June

16:00 Welcome reception in foyer of Claus Moser

16:30 Keynote Address Professor Mark Duffield – How did we become unprepared? From modernist to post-modernist conceptions of disaster

18:30 Food in the KPA


Friday 15th of June

09:00 Temporalities: memory, anticipation, anxiety

Chair: Professor Ronnie Lippens

Discussant: Corey Walker-Mortimer

Andreas Karparti (Aberystwyth University) - Whose crisis? Towards a reconsideration of youth and labour in post-war Sierra Leone

Yvonne Rinkart (Aberystwyth University) Falling as a State of the Present - A Žižekian Analysis of the Falling Man

Huw diprose (Aberystwyth University) – Politics, denial, anxiety, food: examining responses of alternative food movements

10:30 Coffee break

11:00 Revisiting the Frankfurt School and English School

Chair: Dr. Barry Ryan

Discussant: Robert Emerton

Carolin Kaltofen (Aberystwyth University) - Engaging Adorno: the ‘critical’ in Critical Security Studies

Alex Hoseason (Aberystwyth University) - Returning to Frankfurt: Critical Theory and the Harmful Condition

Duncan Weaver (Keele University) - Ontologies of the Global: methodological pluralism and the English School Renaissance

12:30 Lunch

1:30 Problematising identity politics

Chair: Dr. Peter Adey

Discussant: Carolin Kaltofen

Robert Emerton (Keele University) – Oswald Spengler and the Problematisation of Civilisation/s

Anna-Karin Eriksson (Linnaeus University) – Identity and Japan’s post 3.11 reconstruction

Maurice Stierl (Warwick University) – Mapping resistance at the border


3:00 pm

Biopolitics: thinking the politics of life (and death) with Foucault and Agamben

Chair: Dr. Luis Lobo-Guerrero

Discussant: Christopher Zebrowski

Owen D. Thomas (University of Exeter) – Public inquiry and the liberal governmentality: publicity, security and the liberal way of war

Corey Walker-Mortimer (Keele University) – The Biopolitics of Creativity in Design-Driven Innovation

4:30 coffee break

5:00 pm

Key Note Address: Professor Michael Shapiro – Against Explanation: Security Dispositifs

6:30

Close of the Colloquium followed by food at Jalsa restaurant in Newcastle


Abstracts

Temporalities: memory, anticipation, anxiety

Andreas Karparti (Aberystwyth University) – Whose Crisis? Towards a Reconsideration of Youth and Labour in post-war Sierra Leone

The UN proclaimed 2012 to be the International Year of Youth, even if the occasion is one of concern rather than celebration. With the global economic downturn having exacerbated the already fragile livelihoods of young people around the world, youth is now more than ever said to be in a state of crisis – whether in inner city London or the mining fields of rural Sierra Leone. This paper challenges the notion that it is youth which is in crisis. Taking the view that the ‘crisis of youth’ especially in sub-Saharan Africa has more to do with the enduring lack of dignified employment opportunities than intrinsic qualities or deficits of young people, the paper seeks to recast the question of youth as the much broader question of labour and its contradictory position in the market economy. Going beyond traditional Marxist approaches associated with such arguments, the paper draws inspiration from thinkers as diverse as Michel Foucault, Jaques Donzelot, Karl Polanyi or André Gorz; all of whom had important arguments to make about the question of labour in the context of capitalist social relations. The aim of the paper (and my PhD) is thus twofold: first to highlight the enduring pertinence of the labour question by critically interrogating the alleged ‘crisis of youth’ in Sierra Leone, and second to call for renewed attention to the centrality of labour as a key category of critical social enquiry.


Yvonne Rinkart (Aberystwyth University) – Falling as a State of the Present - A Žižekian Analysis of the Falling Man

Most discussions of 9/11 are concerned either with what they deem to be the causes of the event or with what they regard as its consequences. This focus renders 9/11 an event of the future (following the causes) or of the past (followed by consequences).

What these discussions cannot account for, and what this piece wishes to focus on, is 9/11 as a present event. It follows Žižek’s discussion of 9/11, which investigates how the events have come to be incorporated in a symbolic framework. This framework allows us to make sense of the events and to attribute meaning to them, i.e. it renders a present event past and future. Once the work of this symbolic framework has been understood, it can be examined critically.

Consequently, the piece turns to one specific element in 9/11: The Falling Man. Richard Drew’s photo (see below) of the same name was widely publicised on September, 12th. After this day, however, the Falling Man all but disappeared from popular awareness as well as academic discourse. Žižek’s analysis of 9/11 also hardly touches the topic. Consequently, this piece reviews those rare artistic and academic discussions of the Falling Man. Building on Žižek’s argument, it suggests that they lead to the horrifying, and therefore repressed realisation, that – since 9/11 is a moment of our present – we are Falling Men. The implications of this realisation shall be discussed.


Huw Diprose (Aberystwyth University) - Politics, Denial, Anxiety, Food: Examining responses of Alternative Food Movements

Food operates as usefully visible intersection between Material Production, Cultural Practices and Identities. The first half of this paper will question the denial of this in general depolitisation of food that arrives with its relegation to mere economic vector, as an industry, and a discourse of individual freedoms, as commodities of consumer choice. I will argue this is a hotbed for productive anxieties, as the politics of food are consistently denied they also return to haunt discourses of community and regional identities, discourse of climate change and nature, health and policy, Trade and the implications of a global economy. In the second half I will turn towards ‘Alternative food movements’ as attempts to respond to these anxieties. Diverse practices are levied here in attempts to escape of mitigate the intransigencies of neoliberal supply chains. Using specific case studies I will examine if they operate as the challenge they attempt to be, or if there remains a venue in alternative food movements to assist in the reproduction of neoliberal ideologies, production by quieting anxieties and preventing a more perturbing politicisation of Food and its production.

Revisiting the Frankfurt School and English School

Carolin Kaltofen (Aberystwyth University) – Engaging Adorno: The ‘critical’ in Critical Security Studies

Even though its focus on emancipation purposefully intends to build upon the intellectual legacy of the Frankfurt School, Critical Security Studies has thus far only interpreted the Frankfurt tradition in a circumscribed manner. That is to say, it selectively drew on some concepts in critical theory that are most associated with Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth. However, in favouring Habermas et al., Booth and Wyn Jones – the doyens of Critical Security Studies – neglect or falsely reject thinkers such as Theodor W. Adorno. This paper demonstrates that a re-engagement with Adorno’s work not only provides a more complete appraisal of the Frankfurt School’s thought, but that it might also reinvigorate Critical Security Studies as a “critical” approach to security. It proposes that this can be achieved by employing Adorno’s ethics of resistance and through the development of the philosophical construct of a constellation of security.

Alex Hoseason (Aberystwyth University) – Returning to Frankfurt: Critical Theory and the Harmful Condition

This paper engages with work of the Frankfurt School through a closer engagement with the ethical commitments present in much of the work. With the work of Adorno and Habermas, Critical Theory became widely criticised as losing its subject in the wake of the critique of Marxism, and it is claimed that a particular focus on the proletariat as a labour-based category has become less relevant in contemporary capitalism. However, it is claimed that while the moment of contradiction that produced the proletariat as a subject may have passed, this does not lead directly to the conclusion that Critical Theory is irrelevant. Rather, an awareness of the ethical commitments of first-generation Frankfurt School thinkers might lead to a stronger notion of the subject founded in the concept of the harmful condition.

This argument is made by rendering the proletariat as a historical phenomenon, and asserting the necessity of a constant search for the subject based on Marx’s ‘ruthless criticism of everything existing’. A greater understanding of what constitutes a harmful condition may form the basis of a Critical Theory that is able to locate the subject within historically contingent contradictions. It is claimed, finally, that the harmful condition is able to provide insight into contradictions that are mobile or transient, and is thus suitable for a research agenda that is to adapt to the liquid nature of contemporary modernity.

Duncan Weaver (Keele University) – Ontologies of the Global: Positioning Weber in the Contemporary English School


The English School of International Relations theory is enjoying a well-earned renaissance, despite sustaining methodological assault. The paper firstly introduces the English School tradition and its signature concept, international society. Charges of methodological naïveté, deficiency and absence will be examined in the second section. Anti-foundational ontology and hermeneutic epistemology will be employed, thirdly, in the refutation of those charges. It is argued that the English School affords a valuably broad intellectual space in which interweaving global ontologies coexist in constructive tension. But difficulties remain. For this reason, the paper’s fourth task is to espouse a distinctly Weberian approach to contemporary English School research. Such an approach allows scholars to theorise international society, possibly for the first time, as an ideal type; it invites new endeavours, namely to seek the ‘spirit’ of international society; and it fills a methodological lacuna: the missing social dimension of international society.


Problematising identity politics

Robert Emerton (Keele University) – Oswald Spengler and the Problematisation of Civilisation/s

This paper intends to address the question of how, why and at what moment did Euro-American understandings of ‘civilisation’ shift from a singular Euro-centric perspective with an emphasis upon Greek or Roman civilisation, of which Europe and America were seen as the rightful heirs, to the notion of a plurality of ‘civilisations’, spatially, temporally and culturally distinct from one-another? The question relates to the wide body of work contesting the nature of cultural and economic development, modernity and the extent to which they have been viewed through an overly Euro-centric conceptual grid, and this intervention seeks to contribute to a genealogical understanding of such phenomena. Through an analysis of Oswald Spengler’s seminal work The Decline of the West and subsequent re/interpretations it is argued that Spengler’s work signified such a shift with his argument that history should be viewed in terms of spatially and temporally distinct cultural groupings. The further question arises from analysis of Spengler’s sweeping and deterministic vision of history of the extent to which it is indicative of a wider trend within the development of the concept of ‘civilisation/s’, in which the European seeks to regain control of a challenged and contested development in the writing of history, again effectively subsuming the non-European under a Euro-centric vision of the telos of history. In such a manner Spengler’s work is located within a reactionary conservative movement that sought to make sense of changes in the international order and is related to its antecedents in Nineteenth Century German philosophy.


Anna-Karin Eriksson (Linnaeus University) – Identity and Japan’s post 3.11 reconstruction

The aim of this paper is to develop a framework for studying national identity constructions in Japan. In contrast to other work on identity, it rejects alterity as its analytical starting point. This helps avoiding the kind of reification of negative dynamics, which, even as it criticizes those dynamics, much scholarship in the field seems guilty of.

By invoking time and process in reconceptualising and repositioning national identity constructions, the essentialist foundation of established accounts are shifted to an existentialist foundation. In this, notions of the nation, state and people give way to identity constructions founded on responsibility and agency.

In taking responsibility for who we are and what we want to become, national identity constructions can be a driving force in sustainable societal (re)construction, something much needed under the circumstances currently facing Japan.


Maurice Stierl (Warwick University) – ‘Mapping Resistance at the Border’

Borders function as fundamental elements in the construction of human identity, denoting what and who belongs, indicating limits to the inside, and inviting speculation to what awaits beyond. Borders are, however, not mere tools of exclusion but have taken on multiple shapes and functions. European Union borders, for example, are polysemic, and thus can become externalised, internalised, multiplied, digitalised and even inscribed into the body. The shifting nature of borders implies that border encounters can take place not necessarily at the geographical limit of the state but in several temporal and spatial dimensions. This paper explores how EU border practices attempt to monitor, trace, (re)direct or stop movements of subjects and illustrates creative forms of resistance to such practices. Employing a Foucauldian/post-structuralist approach to power and resistance the paper argues that rather than being a flawless ‘governmental system of border control’, EU border management is far from ‘total’ and has to face constant border subversion, uncontrollable movement and excessive mobility of (undocumented) migrants as well as diverse political activist networks. In this paper challenges to EU border management will be explored by focusing on how certain political groups ‘reclaim the map’. Counter-cartography breaks with the myth of the objectivity and neutrality of EU border mapping (e.g. Frontex, Europol maps) and problematises commonsensical understandings of space, state-sovereignty, movement, and order. Allowing for a different interpretation of reality these counter-maps can help create alternative border imaginaries and may inform a nuanced politics of dissent.


Biopolitics: thinking the politics of life (and death) with Foucault and Agamben

Owen D. Thomas (University of Exeter) – Public Inquiry and the Liberal Governmentality: Publicity, Security, and the Liberal Way of War

This paper examines how the principle of publicity is invoked and used strategically as part of the liberal way of war. According to the tenets of liberal foreign policy thinking, the public sphere acts prospectively as a restraint upon the state, legitimizing policies in accordance with public right and preventing those policies that contravene what Woodrow Wilson called ‘the common purpose of enlightened mankind’. In recent years, however, prospective acts of publicity have failed to prevent liberal states from engaging in illiberal ways of war. This has led to the instigation of public inquiries whereby the liberal state retrospectively exercises public reason, differentiating itself from illiberal states through the staging of a particular conduct of fact-finding and truth telling, constituting publics who will bear witness to the atonement of the state.

Taking ‘The Iraq (Chilcot) Inquiry’ as its point of reference, and drawing on Foucault’s dispositif, this paper will outline how the liberal state practices publicity to justify itself in the actually existing exercise of the public inquiry. Through the interrelation of a heterogeneous ensemble of elements – competing discourses of openness and security, methodological assumptions, architecture and so on – I outline how the practice of public inquiry constitutes its own public sphere, epistemological suppositions and normative commitments in pursuit of ‘finding fact and learning lessons’. If the public inquiry does not confirm to the principles of publicity as the self-understanding of the liberal state suggests, the liberal way of war is fundamentally different to that traditionally imagined.

Corey Walker-Mortimer (Keele University) – The biopolitics of creativity in design-driven innovation

The paper offers an analysis of design-driven innovation as a discourse on entrepreneurialism, exploring how it provides a biopolitics of security by enabling enterprise, doing so by investing in people to inspire and provide them with the capacities to innovate. Neoliberalism sees in the rise of knowledge based economics the possibility for continuous economic growth without limit. The raw resource is the human imagination and its creative potentials. In Britain in 2005, creativity was declared the principle matter of concern for Britain’s innovation economy, necessitating large scale educational reform and a restructuring of the British economy around its creative core, that sector of the economy that produces an excess of ‘expressive value’. Creativity however was also recognised as something of a troublesome category. As a resource, the human imagination is something of an economic wildcard. It is radically contingent. Interestingly, the same report in 2005, posed design as the best mechanism for turning creativity into innovation. Since then the discourse of design-driven innovation has emerged, a management discourse for how to effectively restructure business enterprise using design thinking. The UK Design Council has pioneered this discourse and now implement it through a series of business support services. This paper explores those services finding design processes that radically problematize the question of value production in political economy. Here, value is less to do with the exchange of equivalents than it is with the expressive value to be found in experientially problematasing encounters with difference, differences that introduce variation into the way we live and do business, that is to say, innovation.


Participants

Participant

Affiliation

Email

Dr. Peter Adey

Royal Holloway, University of London

Peter.adey@rhul.ac.uk

Dr. Emma Anderson

Keele University

e.anderson@pol.keele.ac.uk

Alessandra Ceccarelli

Keele University

a.ceccarelli@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Huw Diprose

Aberystwyth University

huwdiprose@gmail.com

Professor Timothy Doyle

Keele University

t.j.doyle@pol.keele.ac.uk

Professor Mark Duffield

Bristol University

m.duffield@bristol.ac.uk

Robert Emerton

Keele University

r.h.emerton@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Anna-Karin Eriksson

Linnaeus University

anna-karin.eriksson@inu.se

Dr. Luis Lobo-Guerrero

Keele University

l.lobo-guerrero@intr.keele.ac.uk

Julliete Hallaire

Keele University

j.m.hallaire@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Alex Hoseason

Aberystwyth University

alh26@aber.ac.uk

Carolin Kaltofen

Aberystwyth University

cak4@aber.ac.uk

Andreas Karpati

Aberystwyth University

ank7@aber.ac.uk

Seref Kavak

Keele University

s.kavak@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Professor Ronnie Lippens

Keele University

r.lippens@crim.keele.ac.uk

Linda Monsees

Groningen University

linda.monsees@googlemail.com

Dr. Helen Parr

Keele University

h.parr@intr.keele.ac.uk

Yvonne Rinkart

Aberystwyth University

ykr9@aber.ac.uk

Dr. Barry Ryan

Keele University

b.j.ryan@intr.keele.ac.uk

Professor Michael Shapiro

University of Hawaii

Shapiro@hawaii.edu

Phillip Slann

Keele University

p.a.slann@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Maurice Stierl

University of Warwick

maurice.stierl@gmail.com

Emma Teresa Murray

Keele University

e.t.murray@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Owen Thomas

Exeter University

odt201@exeter.ac.uk

Corey Walker-Mortimer

Keele University

c.b.walker-mortimer@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Duncan Weaver

Keele University

d.a.f.weaver@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Ilia Xypolia

Keele University

i.xypolia@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Mustafa Yasacan

Keele University

m.yasacan@ilpj.keele.ac.uk

Christopher Zebrowski

Keele University

c.zebrowski@ilpj.keele.ac.uk



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