2009 events


Part I of Capitalism, Culture, Critique

The Centre for the study of Global Media and Democracy will be hosting a series of events throughout 2009-10 on resources for critical thinking and political engagement.

Thursday 29 October 2009, 5.30-7pm, Richard Hoggart Building, room 309, Goldsmiths
Critical hope: radicalism after radicalism
Dr Jeremy Gilbert, University of East London
Professor Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths
Professor Lisa Adkins, Goldsmiths

Contact Kate Nash k.nash (@gold.ac.uk)

  • See a video of this event


Gianni Vattimo "Philosophy and Emancipation"

Tuesday December 1st 2009, 6-8pm

Venue: Goldsmiths Main Building, Senior Common Room

Hosted by the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy and the Research Unit for Politics and Ethics (in its series on "The Libertarian Impulse")

Gianni Vattimo, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin, has for decades been one of Europe's leading thinkers, with pionerering studies on Nietzsche, Heidgger, and their contributions to postmodern thought. A leading exponent of Italian "nihilism", for Vattimo the inexorable decline of fixed notions of truth opens the way to the pluralisation of emancipation and new modes of being. His works include "The End of Modernity", "Beyond Interpretation", "The Adventure of Difference" and, more recently, "After Christianity" and "Art's Claim to Truth".


Imagining a Radicalized Public Sphere in a context of global capital and digital networks

A seminar organized by Goldsmiths' Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy
(Lincoln Dahlberg - Co-editor of Radical Democracy and the Internet, 2007, Palgrave, Dept. Journalism and Communications, University of Queensland)

2 June 2009, 5-7pm, Goldsmiths, University of London
The concept of the public sphere has become central to understanding and imagining the role of media in democratic societies. In particular, Jürgen Habermas' deliberative conceptualization of the public sphere has become influential in media and communication studies. The concept is a popular point of departure for media- democracy research and theory given that it provides a critical, post-positivist and communication centred understanding of the role of social actors and institutions in political processes. More specifically, Habermas' public sphere is defined as constituted through attempts to resolve breakdowns in social consensus by way of deliberative processes based upon norms of communicative action embedded within everyday 'post-conventional' communication. The actualization of such public sphere deliberation is now seen by many media-democracy commentators as increasingly possible given global digital communication networks.

Despite this popularity within media studies, the Habermasian public sphere has come under sustained criticism, particularly from feminist and post- structuralist theorists, for excluding voices that do not 'fit' the universal normative criteria deemed to define idealized deliberation. In this lecture Dahlberg examines how we might be able to re-imagine the public sphere concept so as to account for the politics associated with such exclusion, and therefore be able to continue to deploy the concept in a radicalized form for critical media-democracy analysis. He will read the limits of the Habermasian public sphere through Laclauian discourse theory. He will then propose that a radicalized public sphere conception can be conceived of through the articulation of discourse theory's understandings of discourse and radical democratic ethics, as well as counter-public sphere theory. The claim is that this articulation accounts for the politics of exclusion, the democratic possibilities of such politics, and the normative role of the media there-in.

However, a significant question remains, developing out of a political economy critique of both Habermas and discourse theory: how adequate is the proposed discourse theoretic radicalization for conceiving of radical democracy in the context of global capitalism, where politics is being increasingly colonized by instrumentalized and individualized logics. In fact, imagining a discourse theoretic public sphere could be read as leading to further ideological exclusion in the sense of overlooking politics related to material economic relations. I conclude by exploring this question, focusing upon the culture/economy binary, the democratizing possibilities arising from dislocations in capitalism, and the opportunities afforded by contemporary media, particularly digital networks. The aim is to imagine a radical public sphere developing against the anti-democratic, depoliticizing aspects of global capitalism and consumer society.


Media Ethics

Thursday, 21 May 2009, preconference at ICA 2009 conference ChicagoThe Centre co-sponsored,with New York University, an the one-day preconference on Media Ethics at the International Communication Association's annual conference in Chicago. Keynote speakers were Daniel Dayan, Clifford Christians, Lilie Chouliaraki and Ronald Arnett with over 30 other speakers.

This event follows conferences on Media Ethics at University of Cambridge, UK (April 2008) and American University of Paris (June 2008) with which Goldsmiths's Department of Media and Communications, and Nick Couldry in particular, were associated.

For more details, please see the conference website.


Persuasion: Rhetoric and Politics in Contemporary Democracy

A seminar organized by the Goldsmiths' Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy and the Centre for Culture and Politics, University of Swansea

5 May 2009 at Goldsmiths, University of London


Aletta Norval (University of Essex)
Michael Carrithers (Durham University)
Rochana Bajpai (SOAS)
Alan Finlayson (Swansea University)
Chair: James Martin (Goldsmiths)

Persuasion is one of the most fundamental of democratic political activities. But it is also one of the most ambiguous. Does democratic development and expansion require the slow substitution of persuasion or rational conviction or, on the contrary, the proliferation of opportunities for rhetorical contestation? Where is the line between persuasion and force? Are there standards of truth or consent that guarantee the democratic character of a persuasive activity? What forms of rhetoric distinguish a democratic polity from tyranny? What happens to political persuasion in an economy and culture dominated by commercial persuasion? How can we best understand and analyse the forms, modes and locations of contemporary political rhetoric as manifested in visual and media cultures?

This interdisciplinary seminar explores the modes of democratic persuasion, the methods for its explication and interpretation and the prospects for rhetoric both in the academy and in the contemporary multifaceted polis.


Talk by Melissa Gregg

Dr Melissa Gregg, University of Queensland (and recently apointed at University of Sydney) spoke on the topic of "Social networking sites, neoliberalism and online culture".

Thursday 19 March 2009, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Gregg is the author of Cultural Studies' Affective Voices (Palgrave 2006) and writes on online culture and the relations between cultural studies and everyday experience and co-edited a special edition of the journal Continuum on this topic in 2007. She is well known to Goldsmiths, having given a talk at the very successful Sociology/Media Departments Gender Studies event organised with sociology in 2008.


Lecture by Craig Calhoun

Professor Craig Calhoun, Department of Sociology, New York University and President of the Social Science Research Council, was scheduled to lecture on the topic:

"Is Humanitarianism Beyond Politics?"

Thursday 12 March 2009, Goldsmiths, University of London

Craig Calhoun is a world-renowned sociologist, writing on issues of political and cultural sociology, and edited the pathbreaking book Habermas and the Public Sphere (MIT Press 1992). He is the editor most recently of the International Handbook of Sociology (with Chris Rojek and Bryan Turner), London: Sage, 2005, and author of Lessons of Empire? (with Frederick Cooper and Kevin Moore), New York: New Press, 2005.

Sadly this lecture had to be cancelled due to unavoidable personal reasons.



Professor James Curran (Department of Media and Communications) is a member of the five-country team led by Toril Aalberg that has secured a grant of 18.88 million Norwegian Krone from the Norwegian Research Council to investigate Media Systems, News Content, and Public Perception of Political Reality.
See further information.