Seminars and events

Seminars and events

Our regular interdisciplinary seminar series acts as a focus for cooperative research for both staff and students and features visiting and Glasgow-based speakers. The seminars and events are open to the public. Watch recordings of talks at the Centre here. A full archive of past events can be found here.

In 2016-17:

Tuesday 4 October 2016, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Robbie Shilliam (Queen Mary University of London): ‘Ah, We Have Not Forgotten Ethiopia: Anti-Colonial Sentiments for Spain in a Fascist Era’

About the talk: Anti-fascist internationalism in the 1930s, exemplified for instance in the Spanish brigades, is usually considered to be the modern genesis of European cosmopolitanism as a workable political project. But instead of a political tradition of anti-fascist internationalism, largely sui generis to Europe, I want to retrieve the tradition of anti-colonial anti-fascism, in which “Europe” is posited as not just part of the problem but as unable to express or solve the problem of fascism sui generis without addressing its colonial project and the conjoined struggles that this problem and project give rise to. For this purpose I excavate contemporaneous considerations of the relationship between the violent Italian colonization of Ethiopia and the violent civil war in Spain. And, specifically, I examine one of the most important anti-colonial anti-fascist archives of the time – Sylvia Pankhurst’s newspaper, New Times and Ethiopia News (NTEN). I conclude by asking what lessons might this tradition impart for contemporary Europe, beset now, as it was in the 1930s, by austerity and racialized resentment?

About the speaker: Robbie Shilliam is Professor of International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of The Black Pacific: Anticolonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections (London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2015) and German Thought and International Relations: The Rise and Fall of a Liberal Project (London: Palgrave, 2009). Robbie blogs at and has a personal blog at He is co-convener of the British International Studies Association’s Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial working group and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Transnational Decolonial Institute.


 Tuesday 18 October 2016, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Thomas Rudman (Manchester Metropolitan University): ‘A Reading of Alain Badiou in the light of Saint Paul: Communism and Theology Today’ (For a recording of the talk, click here)

About the talk:Described by Slavoj Žižek as a philosophical great on ‘the level of Hegel’, Alain Badiou is now a central figure in debates within critical theory, politics and art. Indeed, Badiou’s intransigent defence of the communist hypothesis as the unsurpassable horizon for humanity was a major catalyst for the series many of international debates entitled ‘On the Idea of Communism’ that have been held since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. This paper aims to investigate one of the more controversial areas of Badiou’s political work: his attempt to reinvigorate communist militancy via the figure of Saint Paul. As various critics have argued, this ‘theological turn’ goes against the grain of some key assumptions about Marxism, not least the notion that historical materialism is founded upon avowedly secular and post-Enlightenment forms of critique. In contrast, this paper offers a materialist analysis of the texts of early Christianity in order to show that their style of ideological and political subversion is not incompatible with the egalitarian aims of Marxism. However, I also argue that Badiou’s avowed atheistic reading of Paul is not sufficient to sustain the claims he makes for its political significance. This paper thus aims to address some of the shortcomings of Badiou’s position in order to better defend the articulation of Marxism and Christianity, not by disavowing the messianic aspects of Pauline Christianity but by exploring their political and imaginative potential.

About the speaker: Thomas Rudman recently completed his PhD on Alain Badiou at Manchester Metropolitan University where he is a part-time lecturer in English Literature. His current research focuses on Marxist cultural theory and critical disability studies.


Tuesday 15 November 2016, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Darran Anderson: ‘Remembering the Future – the politics of space and architecture’

About the speaker: Darran Anderson is an Irish essayist, poet and author of most recently, Imaginary Cities (Influx Press). Inspired by the surreal accounts of the explorer and ‘man of a million lies’ Marco Polo, Imaginary Cities charts the metropolis and the imagination, and the symbiosis therein. A work of creative nonfiction, the book roams through space, time and possibility, mapping cities of sound, melancholia and the afterlife, where time runs backwards or which float among the clouds. In doing so, Imaginary Cities seeks to move beyond the clichés of psychogeography and hauntology, to not simply revisit the urban past, or our relationship with it, but to invade and reinvent it. Following in the lineage of Borges, Calvino, Chris Marker and Kenneth White, the book examines the city from global macrocosm to the microcosm of its inhabitants’ perspectives. It proceeds through opium dreams, sea voyages, the hallucinations of prisoners, nocturnal decadence, impossible Soviet skyscrapers, marauding golems, subterranean civilisations, apocalyptic prophecies and the work of architectural visionaries such as Antonio Sant’Elia, Archigram and Buckminster Fuller. It rethinks the ideas of utopias and dystopias, urban exploration, alienation and resistance. It claims that the Situationists lacked ambition when they suggested, “Beneath the paving stones, the beach.” Instead, beneath the paving stones, we may just be able to discern the entire universe. Darran is an occasional Guardian columnist, blogger, co-editor of the literary journal The Honest Ulsterman and former contributing editor to 3:AM Magazine and Dogmatika. He has written the 33 1/3 study of Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson (Bloomsbury, 2013) and A Hubristic Flea (3:AM Press, 2014).  Darran's forthcoming book is 'Tidewrack' (Chatto & Windus (Vintage) in the UK/Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US).


Tuesday 29 November 2016, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Heather McLean on Feminist Community-Engaged Arts Practice in a Neoliberal Era
Heather McLean is a critical urban geographer and performance artist currently based in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests focus on culture-led regeneration, precarity, arts interventions and everyday geographies of agency and resistance. She works from feminist, queer, postcolonial and participatory paradigms, with a key aim of actively engaged research that, both theoretically and methodologically, decentres dominant discourses and engages participants in knowledge co-production. Her current research seeks to understand under-represented artists’ and activists’ efforts to forge solidarities within a paradigm of austerity urbanism. Specifically, she is exploring how arts-based social enterprise organisations and artist-run centres support marginalised communities in Glasgow.



Tuesday 31 January 2017, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Katrina Navickas (University of Hertfordshire): ‘A return to materialism? Multi-scalar and new material approaches to the history of protest in Britain’

About the talk: Labour and social historians have moved away from class and material structure as defining frameworks of their discipline, for various reasons, including a closer attention to intersectional causes of oppression and resistance. I suggest also that historians more generally have moved far away from most theoretical approaches to understanding social change and popular movements. This talk is an exploratory survey of theories of social movements, and argues that historians should return to some of the models within labour geography in particular. It reflects on these theories in the light of my recent empirical researchon the spaces of protest in late 18th and early 19th century Britain.

About the speaker: Katrina Navickas is Reader in History at the University of Hertforshire, director of the Centre for Regional and Local History Research, and member of the Digital History Research Centre. Her research examines popular politics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with a particular focus on the spaces and places of protest in northern England. Her most recent monograph, Protest and the Politics of Space and Place, 1789-1848 (Manchester University Press, 2015), examines how movements for democracy and workers’ rights fought with local and national government over the right to protest in public spaces. Her first book was Loyalism and Radicalism in Lancashire, 1798-1815 (OUP, 2009). Katrina has published widely on such topics as the Luddites, Swing rioters, political prisoners, political clothing, and protesters’ use of landscape in the early 19th century. She has worked with the Stevenage Irish Network and will be working with community groups in Milton Keynes. She is currently undertaking research on the history of post-war Croydon.


Monday 27 February, 7.30pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

John Rees (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Laura Stewart (University of York): ‘Scottish Covenanters, English Levellers, and “Popular” Revolutions in mid-17thC Britain’

About the speakers:

John Rees is author of The Leveller Revolution: Radical Political Organisation in England 1640-1650. He is currently editing a new collection of essays on the life of Leveller leader John Lilburne. His previous books include The Algebra of Revolution, the co-authored A Peoples' History of London, and Timelines, a political history of the modern world. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London and co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.

Laura Stewart is Lecturer in early modern British history at the University of York. After completing her PhD in 2003, Laura won a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and took up a position at Birkbeck, University of London, where she taught for ten years. She is the author of two books, Urban Politics and the British Civil Wars: Edinburgh, 1617-53 (Brill, 2006) and Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1637-51 (Oxford UP, 2016), plus many articles on early modern Scottish history and Anglo-Scottish relations. In collaboration with Dr Janay Nugent, Lethbridge, Canada, Laura is currently writing a new textbook on early modern Scotland for Edinburgh UP.


Wednesday 8 March 2017, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

John Narayan (University of Warwick): ‘Coloured Cosmopolitanism: The Global Politics of Black British Activism’

About the speaker: John Narayan is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick. His research interests centre on globalisation and its relationship to social theory and democratic politics. John's current research project aims to further post-colonial critiques of Sociology’s turn to cosmopolitanism, which look to rearticulate the idea of cosmopolitanism away from perceived elitism and Euro-centrism. He hopes to achieve this through a recovery of the history of the British Black Power movement and its form of Black Activism. Although Black Power is synonymous with the US, Britain also possessed its own distinctive form of Black Power movement. Whilst inspired and informed by its US counterpart, it was also rooted in African, Caribbean and Asian anti-colonial politics, New Commonwealth immigration and the onset of decolonization. Uniting African, Caribbean and Asian immigrants, such ‘Black British activism’ operated through a diverse set of activists and groups, who created a ‘Black’ political identity and formed community based responses to racism and democratic injustice. The project aims to highlight how the British Black Power movement and its forms of Black British activism provide a rich history of thought and political practice that could help to reimagine and reshape cosmopolitanism for the 21st Century.


Tuesday 21 March 2017, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Christopher Prendergast (University of Cambridge): ‘Fourier and Utopia’

About the speaker: Christopher Prendergast specializes in French literature and cultural history, principally of the 19th and 20th centuries. Publications include Signs of the Times: Introductory Readings in Semiotics (co-editor with Stephen Heath and Colin McCabe) 1971; Balzac: Fiction and Melodrama, 1978; The Order of Mimesis, 1986; Paris-Spectacle: Images de Paris dans la peinture au Musée d'Orsay,1987; Nineteenth-Century French Poetry. Introductions to Close Reading (editor and contributor), 1990; Writing the City. Paris and the Nineteenth Century, 1992; An Anthology of World Literature (Co-editor), 1994; Cultural Materialism. Essays on Raymond Williams (editor and contributor), 1995; The Spectacles of Realism: Gender, Body, Genre (co-editor and contributor), 1995; Napoleon and History Painting, 1997; The Triangle of Representation, 2000; Debating World Literature (editor and contributor), 2004; For the People, By the People? Eugene Sue's 'Les Mystères de Paris', 2004; The Classic: Sainte-Beuve and the Nineteenth-Century Culture Wars, 2007; The Fourteenth of July, 2008. He is the general editor of the Penguin translation of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu, and is currently writing a book on Proust and Scepticism. He also holds the title of Honorary Professor at the University of Copenhagen.


Tuesday 23 May 2017, 5.15-7pm, Lilybank House Seminar Room

Gregor McLennan (University of Bristol): ‘Marxism and the Postsecular Turn’

About the talk: In From Marxism to Post-Marxism?, Goran Therborn signalled that a 'theological turn' in Left thought was under way, and discussed its implications for Marxism rather neutrally. He stated that this new strand of theory was not exactly 'an embrace of religious faith' as such, but drew no further conclusions. However, even if what I prefer to call the postsecular turn in critical theory has many aspects, some of which might well be progressive, we need a fuller debate about whether there are serious issues of philosophical principle at stake, and where to draw our line. Marx's own sense that historical materialism had to make a decisive break with its theological-philosophical context is relevant here, as is the effort of some commentators to question the very idea of 'critique' as unacceptably Eurocentric and secular(ist). In this talk I will try to identify some of the basic issues involved, and evaluate or comment upon the work of several postsecular authors and interventions, some of which are driven by forceful ‘postcolonial’ concerns.

About the speaker: Gregor McLennan is Professor of Sociology and Head of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. His books include Marxism and the Methodologies of History (1981), Marxism, Pluralism and Beyond (1989), Pluralism (1995), Sociological Cultural Studies: Positivity and Reflexivity in the Human Sciences (2006), and Story of Sociology (2011), and he has written a series of papers in recent years on questions of postsecularism, postcolonialism, and critical sociology. Perhaps the most relevant background paper for the present session is ‘The Postsecular Turn’, in Theory, Culture & Society 27 (4), 2010: 3-20.

For more information on the series, contact Vassiliki Kolocotroni

 Events archive