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.
Friday, 28th October 2022, 11.00-12.30 Seminar Room, Lilybank House, Bute Gardens
Dr Wilson Sherwin, Neil Davidson Fellow (University of Glasgow): ‘Beyoncé Says, “Quit Your Job”: Feminism, work, and antiwork freedom dreams’
Recent years have brought a remarkable sea change in how people relate to their jobs. The Great Resignation, “quiet quitting”, and China’s “Tang ping” are just a few examples of nascent antiwork politics. However exciting these trends may be, they remain largely individual, atomized, and far from the bold, collective projects that define a genuine social movement. Has an antiwork movement ever existed? What might that even look like? Returning to the Welfare Rights Movement (United States, 1960s- 70s) this talk examines a remarkable historic example of militant and sustained collective mobilization waged by poor Black women for the right to live rich and meaningful lives, freed from the compulsions and cudgels of employment.
Wilson Sherwin has worked as an electrician, a nanny, a translator, and a documentary film producer. She is currently a sociologist who writes and teaches about social movements, political economy, and public policy.
Tuesday, 15th November 2022, 17.15-19.00, Room 407 Boyd Orr Lecture Theatre A.
Professor John Holloway (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico), ‘Hope in Hopeless Times’
Hope lies in our richness, in the joy of our collective creativity. But that richness exists in the peculiar form of money. The fact that we relate to on another through money causes tremendous social pain and destruction and is dragging us through pandemics and war towards extinction. Richness against money: this battle will decide the future of humanity. If we cannot emancipate richness from money-capital-profit, there is probably no hope. Money seems invincible but the constant expansion of debt shows that its rule is fragile. The fictitious expansion of money through debt is driven by fear, fear of us, fear of the rabble. Money contains, but richness overflows. In this final part of his ground-breaking trilogy, published by Pluto Press, John Holloway expertly fuses anti-capitalism and anti-identitarianism, and brings hope into the critique of political economy and revolutionary theory, challenging us to find hope within ourselves and channel it into a dignified, revolutionary rage.
John Holloway has published widely on Marxist theory, on the Zapatista movement and on the new forms of anti-capitalist struggle. His book Change the World without Taking Power has been translated into eleven languages and has stirred an international debate, and Crack Capitalism is a renowned classic. He is currently Professor of Sociology in the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico.
Tuesday 6th December 2022, 17.15-19.00 709B, Boyd Orr Building.
Professor Graeme MacDonald (University of Warwick), ‘The Perpetual Problem: Renewable Energy Imaginaries’
An affirmative vision of renewable energy as the solution to the crisis of global heating is an underpinning feature of multiple climate and energy imaginaries. These emanate from across the political spectrum. In a wide range of media and discourse—in politics, industry, art, activism—the turbine is potential; the photovoltaic exudes promise. ‘Clean power’ mobilises progressive futures for left and right. Its infrastructures symbolise hope, represent solutions, constitute just transition and promise societal transformation. In assorted cultural genres a broadly similar association of renewables with social regeneration and techno-social fix is evident in literary, cinematic and televisual narrative, in art and design, and videogame worlds.
What remains less marked in this generally utopian framing is that this renewable landscape of hope, recovery and repair is often freighted with or confronted by the event and figure of the post/apocalypse. This configures in multiple and often politically conflicting ways, pressed into service by capital (oil company, marketing agency, financial services), political party and fictive representation. All create competing cases for a particular vision of the world with and after fossil fuels. But what is the business of renewables in the post-apocalypse? To try to begin answering this question, this talk will track the aesthetic signatures of the post-oil ‘renewable imaginary’ in a range of speculative literary and cultural productions of the 21st century. What meanings the left can derive from such visions of an unjust energy transition and its impasses in an era of climate anxiety and neo-extractivism will hopefully prove food for discussion.
Graeme Macdonald is Professor in the Dept. of English & Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick. He has published widely on Oil Cultures and is a member of the Petrocultures Research Group. Recent work includes the book Solarities: Seeking Energy Justice, collectively written with the After Oil School and a volume of Science Fiction Studies on "Food Futures, edited with Nora Castle. He is editor of the forthcoming Handbook of Energy Humanities, published next year by Routledge. He is a member of the Warwick Research Collective (WreC) who co-authored Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature (2015). He was most recently CI on the Climaginaries Research Project, funded by FORMAS and on the RSE Low Carbon Scotland project.
For more information on the series, contact