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Thinking through Spinoza: A research symposium

Friday 24 May, Room 3.20 Arts 2 Building
School of Politics and IR, Queen Mary, University of London

Spinoza’s philosophy continues to be an important reference point for scholars working within the Humanities. The symposium reflects this diversity of engagements with Spinoza, and brings together scholars working within political theory, philosophy, architecture, and the visual cultures. The symposium asks ‘How might we think with/through Spinoza today? The speakers’ responses reflect some of the most exciting and innovative approaches being developed through Spinoza’s thought today.


9.30-10.00:        Arrival, coffee, and registration

10.00-10.15:      Opening Remarks: Thinking, through Spinoza – Dr Caroline Williams (SPIR, QMUL)
10.15-11.30:      ‘Vital materialism: Spinoza after Deleuze’, Professor Rosi Braidotti (Director, Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht)
Chair:                Professor Diana Coole, (Politics, Birkbeck)

11.30-11.45        Coffee

11.45-1.15:        ‘Spinoza’s concept of equality’: Dr Beth Lord (Philosophy, Aberdeen); and ‘Spinoza’s Geometric Ecologies’, Dr Peg Rawes (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
Chair:                Dr Filippo del Lucchese (Politics, Brunel)

1.15-2.15           LUNCH (Arts Two Senior Common Room, 4th floor)

2.15-3.45           ‘Jura communia as anima imperii: the symptomatic relationship between law and conflict in Spinoza’ Dr Filippo del Lucchese (Politics, Brunel); and ‘Spinoza and the Production of Subjectivity (or, the Three Kinds of Knowledge, and the Passage Between)’ Dr Simon O’Sullivan (Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths)
Chair:                Dr Beth Lord (Philosophy, Aberdeen)

3.45-4.00    COFFEE

4.00-5.15           ‘Spinoza and Art’, Professor Moira Gatens (Philosophy, Sydney)
Chair:                Dr Caroline Williams (SPIR, QMUL)

5.15-6.30    Closing Remarks (Dr Caroline Williams (SPIR, QMUL) followed
by a wine reception for all participants (ArtsTwo SCR)

To register for the event, or for further information, click on the following link:

Best Wishes,

Dr Caroline Williams
School of Politics & International Relations Queen Mary, University of
327 Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
United Kingdom




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Louis Althusser

Louis Althusser



International Conference

9th – 11th October 2009

Jan Van Eyck Academie

Academieplein 1 Maastricht

The Netherlands

The work of Louis Althusser and his associates constituted an important attempt to rethink the political and philosophical potential of Marx’s thought, in tension with its ‘orthodox’ reading in Stalinism. In his work in the 1960s and 1970s, Althusser proposed to negate the metaphysical categories of subject, substance, telos, and end. He further explored these themes in the late 1970s and 1980s in terms of the event, the encounter and contingency. The late Althusser’s “materialism of the encounter” both provides many points of contact for a productive dialogue with thinkers associated with post-structuralism, while at the same time seeming to maintain a stronger connection to the Marxist tradition, particularly in terms of his continuing affirmation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. One of the purposes of this conference will be to attempt to gain an overview of the development of Althusser’s thought and to pose the question of its legacy for contemporary debates in radical political thought.

It is not only the legacy of Louis Althusser that will be of our interest here, however, but rather how to encounter and deal with the more unrecognised or suppressed points in his thought that remain enigmatic, and at the same time productive for further research in politics, economy, philosophy (and ideology). Many contemporary discussions ranging from Badiou and Zizek to Balibar, Laclau and Butler revolve around some topics that were traced or started by Louis Althusser, mainly on ideology, linking Althusser to Lacan or politics. In this conference, we would like to focus on some points that have not yet been discussed or have not yet been given the attention they deserve.

In the Althusserian spirit of philosophy working by attacking established positions on an occupied Kampfplatz, we outline four different fields of investigation to which panels will be dedicated: ruptures in philosophy, politics, political economy and politics and philosophy in the late Althusser. In each field, we intend to subject established interpretations of Althusser’s thought to critique and to attempt to determine productive areas for future research. Beyond such scholarly and philological debates, however, our guiding concern will be to pose the question of the extent to which an encounter with Althusser today has the potential to promote critical energies and perspectives that are capable of intervening effectively in the contemporary conjuncture.


* Ruptures in Philosophy: Dis/continuities in Althusser’s Thought

* The Primacy of Politics: Singularity, Dictatorship of Proletariat, Class Struggle

* The Critique of Political Economy and the Legacy of Althusser

* Politics and Philosophy in the Late Althusser: The Philosophy of the Encounter and Aleatory Materialism


Giorgos Fourtounis, Geoffrey Goshgarian, Slobodan Karamanic, Katja Kolsek, Marko Krzan, Mikko Lahtinen, Rasto Mocnik, Vittorio Morfino, Ozren Pupovac, Jason Read, Panagiotis Sotiris, Maria Turchetto, Caroline Williams, Frieder Otto Wolf


Katja Diefenbach, Gal Kirn, Peter Thomas


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