Seminars and events

Our regular interdisciplinary seminar series, teach-ins and conferences act as a focus for cooperative research for both staff and students and feature 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 seminars and events can be found here.

In 2019-20:

5-7 September 2019: Uneven Development for the 21st Century: An International Conference. More information here

1 October 2019 (5.15pm, 118 Hetherington Building)

Diarmaid Kelliher (University of Glasgow): ‘The Spatial Politics of the Picket Line, 1966-1988’

From the late 1960s through the 1980s, high strike levels in Britain placed the picket line at the centre of industrial and political conflict. Flying pickets, mass pickets, and secondary pickets became prominent tactics as sections of the labour movement took an increasingly confrontational approach to protecting living standards. This paper spans the period from the emergence of the term ‘flying pickets’ during strikes in the British coalfields in the 1960s, to the National Union of Seamen dispute with P&O ferries in the late 1980s, when restrictions against secondary picketing that had developed in the intervening decades nearly destroyed the union. It considers the particular role the boundary of the picket line played in the production and contestation of solidarity in this period.  From Ravenscraig to Grunwick, the ‘mass picket’ gained significant attention. The mass picket often relied on solidarity from outside the immediate dispute, and in some cases played a unique role as a space of encounter between a diverse range of activists. Focusing exclusively on such spectacular manifestations of picketing, however, can be misleading. Often picket lines were little more than a couple of strikers and a sign. This paper will discuss how the symbolic power of the picket, the discipline of trade union organisation, and the act of persuasion could produce impressive small scale acts of solidarity. Yet the trade union principle that workers should ‘never cross a picket line’ was frequently transgressed. The paper will also think about the relationship between those workers who crossed picket lines and broader attempts by the British state to reduce the effectiveness of picketing. It will therefore argue that thinking about the history of the picket lines offers novel insights into how opposing political projects in the 1970s and 1980s manifested in a struggle over space. 

Diarmaid Kelliher is an Urban Studies Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Glasgow. He is currently working on a book for Routledge titled ‘Making cultures of solidarity: London and the 1984-5 miners’ strike’, and researching picket lines in 1970s and 1980s Britain.

12 November 2019 (5.15pm, 118 Hetherington Building)

Mae A. Miller (CUNY Graduate Center): ‘Black Feminist Listening and the Archive of the Atlantic’

In this talk, I argue for the importance of Black feminist listening as archival methodology, spatial politics, and emancipatory praxis. Drawing from Black geographies, Black feminism, and cultural studies, I revisit canonical texts and sites of Black Atlantic political thought and vernacular culture. I analyze scenes from The Interesting Narrative of the Live of Olaudah Equiano and Claude McKay’s novels Banjo: A Story Without a Plot and Home to Harlem in order to shed new light the relational racial-sexual currents of the ship and the seaport. Black feminist listening attends to the “background noise” that shapes and mediates these social spaces—the supporting characters, fleeting moments of encounter and introspection, and passing references to the sounds of seaports. Thinking relationally about the multiple routes and registers of the Atlantic archive brings into critical focus new forms of what Ruth Wilson Gilmore refers to as “place-making as a practice of freedom,” potential for political resonances and solidarities, and confluences of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean littorals.

Mae Miller is a doctoral student in the Geography Department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Previously, Miller has worked as a lecturer in the department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Vassar College in New York state and at the Museum of the City of New York. From 2017-2019, she served as the student representative for the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers.

26 November 2019 (5.15pm, 118 Hetherington Building)

Sivamohan Valluvan (University of Warwick): ‘The Clamour of Nationalism: A conversation about nationalism and left complicities’

In line with the recent publication of Sivamohan Valluvan’s The Clamour of Nationalism, this event will discuss the sociopolitical but also theoretical frameworks through which to make sense of nationalism’s strange resilience. Resisting the tendency to read nationalism as only reflex, the discussion will probe the longstanding hold of nationalism as the principle political logic privileged by capitalist modernity. Particular attention will be given here to the complicities of various left factions and sensibilities in the mainstreaming and laundering of today’s nationalisms. As western capitalism reneges on the welfare contract, creating a new political vacuum, it remains frustrating that some who propagate for a left alternative also seem wedded to the nation – in asserting control over migration, over defence, over security, and over how we imagine our everyday sense of community. The talk will herein contend that any alternative left visions for governance must, as a minimum, start with the repudiation of nationalism and also of the left’s routine submission to such nationalism.  Sivamohan Valluvan will be in conversation with Professor Andrew Smith (University of Glasgow)

Sivamohan Valluvan is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Warwick. Drawing upon postcolonial, cultural studies, and Marxist theoretical repertoires, he has written widely on theoretical debates as pertaining to racism, nationalism, multiculture and cosmopolitanism. 


Inaugural Socialist Theory and Movements Annual Lecture

6 December 2019, 3-5pm, 1115 Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow

Sheila Rowbotham:Interactions between left ideas of participatory democracy  and  workers’ control  in the  Women’s  Liberation  Movement from  the  late 1960s through  the  70s’

These links which were extremely  important  at  the  time  have  been obscured  by  the  residual  weight  of  the  reaction  that  followed from  1979. The result was to be a lacuna which  makes it  difficult  to  connect  with  their significance  for  the  present. In my lecture I will outline some of the ways I observed these  manifesting  themselves, stressing the enriching  impact  as  well as the  problems that  resulted in  trying to implement  them in  practice. I hope in doing so to stimulate others to follow  through some  of  these  lost threads in deeper  and  more  specific  detail. We need to connect with and  carry  our  lost theoretical  and  experiential  assets into  a dynamic  renewal of  a democratic  and   personally fulfilling ‘socialism’.

Sheila Rowbotham is a pivotal figure at the intersection of feminism, history and socialist theory and movements. A key activist in the emergence of the women’s liberation movement in Britain, she was a pioneer in thinking through the relations between histories from below and feminist approaches to history. Among her key contributions from this period are Women, Resistance and Revolution; Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World; and Hidden from History. Her recent books include Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (Verso, 2008), Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2010) and Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States (Verso, 2016). She is an Honorary Fellow of Manchester University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

 For more information on the series, contact Vassiliki Kolocotroni and Dave Featherstone

 Events archive