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 since 2009 can be found here.


Fri 16 Feb, 11am, Rm 416, East Quadrant (Geography)

Dr Ayyaz Mallick (University of Liverpool), ‘History, Structure, and Conjuncture: Pakistan and the Materiality of Imperialism’

About the talk:

This paper discusses the concrete structuring of the economic and political terrains in Pakistan through imperialism. A political-economic quantification of the mechanisms and magnitude of unequal exchange and economic drain over the last two decades is carried out through domestic and international data sources. This imperial-economic mooring is then brought into conversation with Pakistan’s contemporary history. It is through this intersection of structure and history that the particular structuring of the social and political terrain in Pakistan may be elucidated. In turn, it is also this historical-structural perspective that helps makes sense of the concrete ways in which imperialism does (and does not) condition conjunctural shifts in the polity. Such a historical-structural and conjunctural framework also helps us tackle some of the polarized debates within and around the dependency/world-systems perspectives when it comes to understanding imperialism and its internality to peripheral social formations.

About the speaker:

Ayyaz Mallick is a lecturer in human geography at the University of Liverpool. His research interests include Marxist and postcolonial theory, with a focus on labor, social movements, and the state in Pakistan specifically and the Global South generally. Ayyaz’s academic work has appeared in Antipode, Historical Materialism, Studies in Political Economy, and Urban Geography. His writings and interviews have also appeared in newspapers and popular outlets such as JacobinNovara Media, Socialist Project, and BBC Urdu.

Fri 8 March, 11am, Rm 418, East Quadrant (Geography)

Dr Owen Walsh (University of Aberdeen), 'Frontiers of Black Freedom: Mapping Anti-racist Solidarities in 1930s California'

About the talk:

The talk will explore how African American intellectuals wrought an internationalist and interracial politics of solidarity from the US West Coast during the 1930s. The multiracial composition of California's labour force, and their increasing organisation amid a Communist-led organising drive, facilitated new kinds of Black writing and political engagement through the Depression years. At the same time, opportunities for global travel helped to connect California's radical Black milieu with sites as distant as Bokhara, Tokyo, and Honolulu. Mapping antiracism from the Pacific Coast enables us to appreciate the truly global scope of Black political radicalism in this time, as well as the persistent challenges of forging a consistently emancipatory solidarity across difference.

About the speaker:

Owen Walsh is a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Aberdeen, and a scholar of race, radicalism, and culture in the twentieth century, with a focus on the US and the Black diaspora. His work has appeared in Labor History and Comparative American Studies, and he has a forthcoming essay - critically engaging Cedric Robinson's Black Marxism - in Science & Society. His first book, titled Frontiers of Black Freedom, is forthcoming with University of Illinois Press. 


Friday 6 October 2023, 11am-12.30pm, Room 416, East Quadrangle (Geography): Panos Theodoropoulos, 'Migrant workers, precarity, and resistance in Glasgow: How precarity socialises workers, and implications for organising'. Watch a recording of the talk here.

About the talk:

Despite the impacts of Brexit, migrant workers in the UK are at the forefront of the precarious condition, figuring prominently in a range of occupations that are critical for the function of the UK's economy but are simultaneously insecure, stressful, arduous, and symbolically stigmatised. Despite this contradiction, examples of migrant workers collectively organising against exploitation are rare. Drawing on 21 formal interviews, hundreds of informal interviews and conversations, as well as a six-month period of covert participation as a worker in various precarious jobs in Glasgow, this talk attempts to contribute to one of the central questions of socialist theory: what are the barriers to the organisation of some of society's most marginalised groups?

About the speaker:

Dr Panos Theodoropoulos is a political sociologist from Athens, Greece. His interest in migrant labour started when he was employed in many precarious occupations in the UK from 2012 to 2020, a period in which he was also heavily involved in organising collective struggles. He is currently holding the Neil Davidson Postgraduate Writing Fellowship in the University of Glasgow, and is a member of the Interregnum collective.

Friday 3 November 2023, 11am-12.30pm, Room 416, East Quadrangle (Geography):

Dr Neil Gray, 'Take over the City: Operaismo and Urban Revolution in 1970s Italy'

About the talk: Beyond Negri and caricatured notions of ‘autonomy’, the milieu of operaismo (‘workerism’) was central to probably the most revolutionary period in Western Europe in the second half of the twentieth century. Driven by a return to and reworking of Marx’s critique of political economy, a fundamental critique of Keynesian/Fordist state productivism, and a ‘Copernican inversion’ of class perspectives that saw labour as the motor of capitalist development, operaismo developed a radical praxis that retains enormous potential for present-day anti-capitalist struggles. But if historical research on operaismo has understandably focused on the innovative strike-waves of Northern Italy in the ‘Hot Autumn’ of 1969, and the ‘creeping May’ of the following years, there has been little study of the widespread ‘territorial community activism’ in the early-1970s resulting from mass migration, large-scale urban restructuring and fervid property speculation. This paper seeks to rectify this lacuna by way of a spatial composition analysis, a geographically-inflected interpretation of class composition, the signature theoretical manoeuvre of operaismo, and the conceptually rich but empirically underdeveloped notion of the ‘social factory’, showing how these concepts can shed new light on the mass urban struggles of the ‘Take over the City’ movements of 1970s Italy and contemporary struggles over social reproduction today.

About the speaker: Neil Gray's research and writing focuses primarily on urbanisation, housing and spatialised readings of Italian operaismo. He is the editor of Rent and Its Discontents: A Century of Housing Struggle (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and is currently developing a monograph for Common Notions with the support of the Neil Davidson Postdoctoral Writing Fellowship at Glasgow's School of Social & Political Sciences. 

Friday 10 November 2023, 11am-12.30pm, Room 416, East Quadrangle (Geography):

Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, 'Digitalised resistance and its discontents'

About the talk: The use of social media ‘within and against digital capitalism’ by left-progressives is now commonplace around the world (Mirrlees, 2021). The growing incidence of ‘digitalised resistance’ demands has not, however, been accompanied by critical reflection within left-progressive circles about its myriad effects, especially in post-colonial contexts (Akhtar, 2022). Indeed, it can be reasonably argued that prevailing conceptions and practices of the ‘politics of recognition in the age of social media’ (Davies, 2021) is impeding our ability to imagine and articulate emancipatory political horizons that can respond to the universal logic of capital and its reproduction of difference. In this presentation I share insights from Pakistan, and shed light in particular on the struggle to articulate a ‘politics of the universal’ across working people’s movements in centres and peripheries (Akhtar, 2022).

About the speaker: Aasim Sajjad Akhtar is Associate Professor of Political Economy at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University. He was previously at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). ASA works on diverse subjects such as state theory, informality & class formation, colonial history, and social movements. He has published widely in journals such as Third World QuarterlyJournal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Peasant Studies and Critical Asian Studies. He is also the author of four books, most recently The Struggle for Hegemony in Pakistan: Fear, Desire and Revolutionary Horizons (Pluto, 2022) and The Politics of Common Sense: State, Society and Culture in Pakistan (Cambridge, 2018). ASA also writes a syndicated column for Pakistan's newspaper-of-record, DAWN. He is contributing editor for the New York-based journal Socialism & Democracy, and Honorary Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Alongside his academic pursuits, ASA has also been closely affiliated with political and social movements in Pakistan for more than two decades and is currently deputy secretary general of the Awami Workers Party. He obtained his doctorate in political sociology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; an MA degree in Economics from Yale University and a BA degree in Economics from Northwestern University.

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