Events 2013-2014


On Diversity as a Martial Value, or: can you have Muslim soldiers?

29th January 2013, 4.30 - 6.30pm, Lecture Theatre, Ben Pimlott Building

A talk by Vron Ware, Research fellow at the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) and the Centre for Research in Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), Open University, UK

Feminism and Neo-Liberal Governmentality - Johanna Oksala

26th February 2013, 5.00 - 6.30pm, RHB 144, Richard Hoggart Building

Johanna is currently Academy Research Fellow (2012-2017) in the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. She has previously worked as Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Dundee, UK (2007-2011) and as Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy at New School for Social Research, USA (2006-2007).

Feminist scholars have analysed the political changes in the situation of women that have been brought about by neoliberalism, but their assessments of its consequences for feminist theory and politics vary. Several feminist thinkers have argued that feminism must now return its focus to socialist politics and foreground economic questions of redistribution in order to combat the hegemony of neoliberalism. Some have further identified poststructuralism and its dominance in feminist scholarship as responsible for the debilitating move away from socialist or Marxist paradigms. 

I share their diagnosis to the extent that it is my contention that the rapid neoliberalization characterizing the last thirty years has put women and feminist thought in a completely new political situation. However, in contrast to those feminist thinkers who want to put the blame for the current impasse on the rise of poststructuralist modes of thought in feminist theory and advocate a return to traditional socialist political paradigms, I contend that such a return represents dangerous nostalgia that would rob feminist theory of its remaining political relevance. It is my contention that the poststructuralist turn in feminist theory in the 1980s and 1990s continues to represent an important theoretical advance, only now its theoretical and political force has to be redirected to new issues in order to get a better handle on the impact of neoliberalism on the lives of women. 

I will discuss Foucault’s philosophical analysis of neoliberalism in order to assess the ways it can contribute to this task. His lectures delivered at the Collège de France in 1979 provide a novel conceptual and theoretical framework for the critical analysis of neoliberalism, but they have received surprisingly little attention from feminist thinkers (in French in 2004, Naissance de la Biopolitique, and in English in 2008, The Birth of Biopolitics). I argue that this framework is vital for the feminist diagnosis of our contemporary political reality. My paper identifies the distinctive strengths of the Foucauldian approach and analyzes its consequences for feminist theory and politics.

Atmospheres: Cities, ecologies, animals, justice - Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos

12th March 2013, 5.00 - 6.30pm, RHB 144, Richard Hoggart Building

Andreas , LLB, LLM, PhD, has read Law in Thessaloniki, Greece, as well as in other European cities. He completed his LLM at King's College, London, and his PhD at Birkbeck College, London. 

He is Professor of Law & Theory and Director of the Westminster International Law & Theory Centre at the University of Westminster, London, and his research interests include critical legal theory, autopoiesis, philosophy, psychoanalysis, architecture, geography, art, phenomenology, and their critical instances of confluence. He researches in the areas of environmental law, EU law, human rights and critical jurisprudence.

Andreas shall deal with airs and sounds and scents, while keeping an eye on the law. His field of enquiry is the concept of atmosphere, namely the interstitial area between sensory and affective occurrences. Atmospheres are legally determined. The law controls affective occurrences by regulating sensory stimulation, guiding thus bodies into corridors of sensory compulsion – an aspect of which is consumerism in capitalist societies. This is achieved by allowing certain sensory options to come forth while suppressing others, something which is particularly obvious in cases of intellectual property

protection that capture the sensorial. Andreas deals with atmosphere in its material, spatial manifestation and in particular through what he has called the ‘lawscape’, namely the fusion of space and normativity. He employs a broadly Deleuzian methodology with insights from radical geography, affective studies, object-oriented ontology, urban and critical legal theory, as well as animal studies.

A New Sparta: The Discreet Charms of the US Navy SEALs - Laleh Khalili

26th March 2013, 5.00 - 6.30pm, RHB 356, Richard Hoggart Building

Dr. Laleh Khalili is an Iranian American and a reader in Middle East Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

US hegemony in the Tricontinents has always hinged on the threat and enactment of military force. Given the astronomical costs of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its military posture has recently shifted pronouncedly from personnel-intensive liberal counterinsurgencies -with their discourse of improvement, development, and "hearts-and-minds"- to "counterterrorism" efforts dependent on manned and unmanned aerial assassinations and special operations forces. 

The US Navy Seals are the cynosures of this deadly drama, ever more feted with their killing of Usama Bin Laden in 2011. Drawing on a large body of memoirs, novels and military histories written by and about the Navy Seals, Khalili reflects on the neo-Spartan mythmaking so prevalent in these writings, with their identical narrative arcs, heroic endpoints, hypermasculine bellicosity and the neoliberal ideologies embedded therein. These texts are exemplary documents of their time, illuminating the politics of past events, the possibilities of violence into the future, and the startling popularity and continuity of US military adventurism overseas.

Revolution and the Gulf Arab States: Rethinking Class and State in the Middle East - Adam Hanieh

7th May 2013, 5.00 - 6.30pm, RHB 144, Richard Hoggart Building

The tremendous changes in the Middle East over the last two years have provoked a range of debates around the nature of the region's political economy. This presentation argues that an important - and often overlooked - dimension to this is the growing weight of accumulation at the regional scale. Neoliberal transformation has acted to facilitate the internationalisation of capital throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, closely tying together domestic and regional capital accumulation centered upon the Gulf Arab States. These processes raise significant questions around the relationship of class, state and nation in the contemporary Middle East. This presentation examines these processes both theoretically and empirically, positing the interpenetration of scale as a critical vantage point from which to understand the possible trajectories of the Middle East's new political configurations.RHB 144

Prior to joining SOAS, Adam taught at Zayed University, United Arab Emirates. From 1997-2003, he worked in the NGO and public sectors in Ramallah, Palestine, where he completed an MA in Regional Studies at Al Quds University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from York University, Canada (2009). His research interests include labour migration and the world market; political economy of internationalisation and finance; theories of class and state formation. His regional expertise is the Middle East, with a specific focus on the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Palestine. 

Adam is an editorial board member of Historical Materialism and a member of board of management for the Council for British Research in the Levant.

Goldsmiths In Coversation with Judith Butler

23rd May 2013, 9.30am - 5.30pm LG02, Professor Stuart Hall Building

This ‘Goldsmiths in Conversation’ day is an opportunity for some cross-departmental conversations by those who have been inspired, indebted or provoked by the enormously influential work of Professor Judith Butler. The day will consist of short interventions from the Departments of Sociology, Media & Communications, English & Comparative Literature, Anthropology and the Department of Visual Cultures’ Centre for Research Architecture. Professor Judith Butler will not be speaking, but will be present to provide a ‘Response to the day’.

Oliver Feltham’s Anatomy of Failure: Philosophy and Political Action 

22 February 2014,  4.00 – 7.00 pm, Lecture Theatre, Ben Pimlott Building 

Modern liberalism begins in the forgetting of the English Revolution. Anatomy of Failure seeks to right that wrong by exploring the concept of political action, playing its history against its philosophy. No mere philosophical abstractions, the Hobbesian and Lockean models of sovereign and contractual action have dominated the very practice of politics for centuries. Today it is time to recuperate the Leveller-agitator model of joint action, a model unique in its adequacy to the threat of failure and in its vocation for building the common-wealth.


Filippo Del Lucchese, Brunel University, London Peter D Thomas, Brunel University, London Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths, University of London


Oliver Feltham, American University of Paris

The event is supported by Collège International de Philosophie, Paris and the Unit for Global Justice, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London