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Daily Archives: April 14th, 2015

Social Imaginaries

Social Imaginaries



School of Politics & International Relations

Queen Mary, University of London

Arts One, Room 1.28

10 am – 6 pm, Friday 17 April 2015

It is generally accepted that the various strands of thought associated with ‘post-structuralism’ have had an extensive impact on the study of politics in the UK and the United States over the past 30 years. However, it is also clear from a number of recent publications that there is renewed interest in the vexed questions of how to define post-structuralism and how to evaluate its overall significance. Indeed, it would be fair to say that some half-century after the publication of seminal texts such as Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, Gilles Deleuze’s Nietzsche and Philosophy and Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology, ‘post-structuralism’ remains an essentially contested concept. Both supporters and critics alike remain divided on whether or not post-structuralism represents a distinct tradition, and on the extent to which post-structuralist theory can enhance the study of politics.

We will use this workshop to take stock of the state of the art in post-structuralist political theory, while also identifying the key debates and issues that will shape the field in the future. The workshop brings together leading scholars from across the UK to address these questions, in order to provide a conceptual map of the politics of post-structuralism today. We expect the discussion to show how scholars diverge on several key points, while converging in common conviction that post-structuralism represents a distinct mode of theorizing, and one that remains crucially important for the study of political movements, practices and institutions.


Key themes and questions

The workshop engages substantive debates within the subfield. However, the presentations and discussions will also serve to introduce colleagues working across the disciplines of political science and international relations to a range of themes and questions about the status of post-structuralism today. These include:


Definitional questions:

What is post-structuralism and how does it relate to other major currents in continental philosophy such as structuralism, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, existentialism and post-modernism?

How, and to what extent, does post-structuralism form part of the wider linguistic turn in 20th century philosophy?


Questions about distinct schools and traditions:

What have been the major contributions of (for example) the Foucauldian analysis of governmentality and disciplinary power, of the Essex School of ‘discourse theory’, of Žižek’s account of ideology, and of contemporary theories of rhetoric?

What is the significance of the recent critiques of semiotics and of discourse theory put forward by the ‘new materialist’ approaches and the ‘speculative realists’?

How, and to what extent, does post-structuralist theory overlap with and impact upon related approaches within the disciplines of political science and international relations, such as (post-)Marxism, Feminism, constructivism and the new institutionalism.


Conceptual questions:

How do post-structuralists address some of the major issues in the philosophy of the social sciences, such as the nature and scope of the political, the question of the construction of interest and identities, of agency and structure, and of the role of ontology and epistemology?

What are the meaning and significance of terms such ‘anti-essentialism’ and ‘post-foundationalism’?


Normative questions:

Can post-structuralism or post-foundationalism sustain a coherent normative theory of politics without falling into a performative contradiction?

What is the significance of the main normative approaches to emerge from post-structuralism, for example the tradition of ‘agonistic democracy’ and the revived interest in the idea of communism?



9.30-10.00 Registration and welcome

10.00-12.30 Session 1

Benoît Dillet (University of Loughborough): The Right to Problems: Post-Structuralism, Ontology and Politics

Gulshan Khan (University of Nottingham): Post-Structuralism, Ontology and the Political

Lasse Thomassen (Queen Mary): Post-Structuralism and Representation

Chair: Mark Wenman (University of Nottingham)


12.30-13.30 Lunch


13.30-15.30 Session 2

Iain MacKenzie (University of Kent) and Robert Porter (University of Ulster): From Occupy to Activate: Or, the (Re-)Politicization of Post-Structuralism in Everyday Life

Mark Wenman (University of Nottingham): Rethinking Freedom: Political Agency after Post-Structuralism

Chair: Lasse Thomassen (Queen Mary)


15.30-16.00 Tea/coffee


16.00-18.00 Roundtable: Poststructuralism and Political Theory Today

Simon Choat (Kingston)

Eric Heinze (Queen Mary)

Kim Hutchings (Queen Mary)

Caroline Williams (Queen Mary)

Chair: Mark Wenman


Register here


Places are limited, and registration is necessary. PSA members will be able to attend for free; non-PSA members will pay a small fee (£30/employed; £15 unemployed/students), which includes tea/coffee and lunch.

Funded by the School of Politics and International Relations

and the Political Thought Specialist Group of the PSA


Dr Lasse Thomassen
School of Politics & International Relations
Queen Mary, University of London
327 Mile End Road
London E14NS
United Kingdom
Tel: 0207 882 2848

Contemporary Political Theory Annual Prize winner: ‘Political theory in the square: Protest, representation and subjectification


‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia:

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate:

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas:


Rikowski Point:

Obsolete Capitalism

Obsolete Capitalism


Twelfth Annual Historical Materialism Conference

School of Oriental and African Studies, Central London, 5-8 November 2015

Deadline for abstracts: 1 May 2015
Link for paper proposals will be live this weekend at

As austerity tightens its grip around the throats of the peoples of Europe, but also rears its ugly head in Brazil and elsewhere, we are forced to recognize that it is not the mere byproduct of the « economic crisis » but a political project in its own right, one whose aim is to deepen and consolidate the most uncompromising forms of neoliberal capitalism. It cannot be said that this project has hitherto been met with passivity, even if social movements of resistance have been mostly far from strong enough to halt its advance. Yet something is perhaps beginning to change, namely the emergence of counter-austerity projects that have pitched themselves at a political – even electoral or governmental – level. With all their weaknesses, hesitations and contradictions, the chinks of light in Southern Europe, amongst others, should compel Marxists to pose a whole series of ‘old’ strategic and theoretical problems in new garbs and new configurations, ​but perhaps also to retire some of our dear fetishes and shibboleths, and to experiment with forms and strategies adequate to our present. Among the themes that have returned to the agenda are: the relationship of movements and parties of the radical Left to states and governments; the need for a political response to how class power is enmeshed with forms of domination that have gender, race, imperialism or sexuality as their axes; possible « socialist » futures and the « transitional » mediations implied by them; the guiding dichotomies of left thought: reform and revolution, revolution and revolt, state and movement, parties classes and masses; the link between the limits to capital and the limits of politics.

At this year’s Historical Materialism Annual Conference in London, 5-8 November 2015, we would like to encourage papers on these and other topics, with a particular focus on Greece, Spain and Latin America as laboratories for these experiences and debates.

Among the themes we would like to explore are * :

Dual Power and Socialist Transition
Communisation, Accelerationism and their limits
Transitional Programme Redivivus?
The European Union as a Class Project
Greece and Spain as Laboratories of Change
Latin America – What Follows the Pink Wave?
Cultural and Aesthetic Representations of Crisis
What Is Populism?
The Reformist Hypothesis
Right-wing Strategies in the Crisis

Other themes we would like to see are:

Nietzsche and Marxism (to celebrate the publication of Domenico Losurdo’s book on Nietzsche in the HM Book Series)
History and Actuality of the first four congresses of the Communist International
Social Reproduction
Race and Capitalism
Capitalism, Logistics and the Sea
The Legacy of Nicos Poulantzas and Left Eurocommunism
Capitalism and Global Inequality: Keynes or Marx?
Marxist Thought in the Arab World
China: Is the Miracle About to Crash?
« Leninism » and its Discontents
Strategies of Counter-Revolution
Culture and State Building
Rebuilding Communities and the Battles around Housing.
Technologies and Culture
*This is a non-exclusive list: other subjects are of course welcome too. Pre-constituted panels are welcome but we reserve the right to disaggregate them and create new panels with some of the speakers proposed.

N.B. Given the complexity of organising a conference of this size, we cannot guarantee that speakers will be able to speak on a certain day or at a certain time. Last minute changes to the conference programme may be necessary due to cancellations, and we ask for speakers’ understanding should a paper or session need to be moved. Finally, please do not propose a paper unless there are realistic prospects that you will be able to attend – « no shows » cause endless knock-on problems of organisation and stress.

Separate CFPs for streams during the conference, such as on Marxism and Feminism, will be circulated soon.




‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia:


Glenn’s article Fuel For the Living Fire: Labour-Power! Is now available at Academia, at:

Ruth Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski


For the last four months, Ruth Rikowski has been doing a lot of crochet work. Her grandmother, Elsie Vickery, was very creative and skilled regarding crochet, and Ruth has a number of examples of her grandmother’s work – some of which we have framed and hung up in our home.

Ruth maintains that, not only does her crochet work produce pleasing products which she can wear or display in the home, but the experience of doing the work is soothing and relaxing whilst also stimulating her imagination and thinking about many topics.


Here are some examples of her work:




Crochet 1

Crochet 1

You see further examples of Ruth’s crochet work at:

Glenn Rikowski


‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia:


Glenn’s article Fuel For the Living Fire: Labour-Power! Is now available at Academia, at:

Big Data

Big Data


Call for Papers: ‘The Politics of Digital Technology’
Panel Proposal for the International Studies Association 57th Annual Conference, Atlanta Georgia, 16-19 March 2016
Convenors: Linda Monsees and David Chandler

The importance of technology, especially digital technologies, for world politics has increasingly caught the attention of IR-scholars. The so-called digital revolution asks us to rethink the role of technology in our current times and to consider how its specific characteristics might challenge traditional political ontologies. It is now widely acknowledged that technology is more than a residual category for theorizing world politics but in the centre of ongoing transformations. These transformations can be observed in real-world political debates and policy-making (Wikileaks and data gathering, the rule of the algorithm, digital humanitarianism, Big Data and the Internet of Things) and also in a growing theoretical interest in science and technology studies (STS) and the ‘material-turn’.

Contributing to this debate, this panel seeks to rethink the possibilities for theorizing the relationship between technology and politics. The current challenge lies in meaningfully conceptualizing technology and its relation to politics in a way that does not reduce technology to just another variable determining the outcome of policies. However, assuming that all technology is always already political might hinder us from understanding the specific linkages between technology and politics or the distinct characteristics enabling technology to be political. Insights from science and technology studies might help to engage with the social role of technology, but the question of how technology is political remains open. Adapting STS to political science might need additional tools for thoroughly engaging with the political aspects of technology. That is why we would like to bring scholars together who work from different theoretical perspectives and use a variety of approaches.

We welcome contributions that ask how we can grasp the distinct characteristics of the relationship between politics and technology. Theoretical and/or empirical contributions that aim at understanding the above outlined questions are welcomed. Possible contributions might ask about the politics of certain technologies, the specificities of digital technologies or how technologies might challenge traditional categories of International Relations.

Please send proposals with a title (limited to 50 words) and an abstract (limited to 200 words), three tags, and at least one author to Linda Monsees ( and David Chandler ( by 15 May 2015.

Best wishes,
Linda and David

David Chandler, Professor of International Relations, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London, W1T 3UW. Tel: ++44 (0)776 525 3073.
Journal Editor, Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses:
Amazon books page:
Personal website:
Twitter: @DavidCh27992090




‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: