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Centre for the Study of Democracy Autumn 2020 Seminar Series

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Autumn 2020 Seminar Series organised by the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster

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The events will all take place online. The Zoom URL will be sent to you a few days before the seminar.

The Seminar Programme:

Tuesday 6th October, 5-6.30pm

The Automated Citizen? Civic Participation in a Datafied Society - Arne Hintz (Cardiff University)

Citizens are increasingly assessed, profiled, categorized and scored according to data assemblages, their future behavior is predicted through data processing, and services are allocated accordingly. This happens largely without our understanding and avenues to intervene, and it therefore raises significant questions about democratic processes, active citizenship and public participation. This presentation will discuss the role of the 'automated citizen' in this context. Further, it will explore emerging mechanisms for citizens to intervene in the development and implementation of data systems, from oversight bodies to citizen assemblies, and thereby highlight new forms of civic participation in an increasingly datafied society.

Tuesday 13th October, 5-6.30pm

Out of Time: The Queer Politics of Postcoloniality - Rahul Rao (SOAS)

Between 2009 and 2014, an anti-homosexuality law circulating in the Ugandan parliament came to be the focus of a global conversation about queer rights. The law attracted attention for the draconian nature of its provisions and for the involvement of US evangelical Christian activists who were said to have lobbied for its passage. Focusing on the Ugandan case, this book seeks to understand the encounters and entanglements across geopolitical divides that produce and contest contemporary queerphobias. It investigates the impact and memory of the colonial encounter on the politics of sexuality, the politics of religiosity of different Christian denominations, and the political economy of contemporary homophobic moral panics.

Wednesday 4 November, 2-3.30pm

Towards a theoretical synergy: interrogating critical race theory and decolonial thought - Ali Meghji (University of Cambridge)

There is a burgeoning interest in the differences between the sociology of race and decolonial thought. This talk develops such discussions by focusing on decolonial thought and a seemingly incongruous paradigm within the sociology of race – critical race theory (CRT). While decolonial thought stresses the continuity of colonial power relations, is committed to transnational and temporally connected analysis, and tends to use historical methods, CRT is based around the premise that contemporary racism must be analysed outside of colonial legacies, tends to analyse nation states outside of their global interlinkages, and methodologically commits to a ‘presentism’ by focusing on the contemporary day. Nevertheless, despite these differences, in this talk I argue that CRT and decolonial thought can synergize to provide prescient analysis of contemporary crises. To display the efficacy of this synergy, I focus on two case studies: right-wing populism, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday 11th November, 5.30-7pm

Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance after Communism – Jelena Subotic (Georgia State University)

Yellow Star, Red Star asks why Holocaust memory continues to be so deeply troubled—ignored, appropriated, and obfuscated—throughout Eastern Europe, even though it was in those lands that most of the extermination campaign occurred. As part of accession to the European Union, East European states were required to adopt, participate in, and contribute to the established Western narrative of the Holocaust. This requirement created anxiety and resentment in post-communist states: Holocaust memory replaced communist terror as the dominant narrative in Eastern Europe, focusing instead on predominantly Jewish suffering in World War II. Influencing the European Union's own memory politics and legislation in the process, post-communist states have attempted to reconcile these two memories by pursuing new strategies of Holocaust remembrance. The memory, symbols, and imagery of the Holocaust have been appropriated to represent crimes of communism. Yellow Star, Red Star presents in-depth accounts of Holocaust remembrance practices in Serbia, Croatia, and Lithuania, and extends the discussion to other East European states. She concludes that Holocaust memory in Eastern Europe has never been about the Holocaust or about the desire to remember the past, whether during communism or in its aftermath. Rather, it has been about managing national identities in a precarious and uncertain world.

Tuesday 24 November, 4-5.30pm

Decolonising the Anthropocene: The Politics of Ecology and Indigeneity - Elisa Randazzo (University of Hertfordshire)

This paper argues that a theoretical encounter between Western ecological scholarship and Indigenous scholarship sheds light on the problematically depoliticising effects of the holistic Anthropocene meta-narrative which prevail in critical approaches to Anthropocene thought in social sciences. The paper suggests that arguments developed in a strand of Anthropocene literature identified as ‘continuous’, parallel Indigenous knowledges and cosmologies in terms of a relational understanding of Being, a conception of agency which is open to non-humans and networks of different actors and an ecological shaping power which cannot be fully controlled by human communities and thus calls for a governance which is responsive, local and adaptive. Drawing on Critical Indigenous Studies, the paper then formulates a critique of how ‘continuous’ relational perspectives to the Anthropocene enfold alternative ontologies and politics within an overarching Anthropocene ontology which is not only problematically universalising, but also replaces the genuine engagement with differences and resistance.

The Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) is based in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Westminster. The Centre undertakes research across a range of critical social and political challenges, promoting an interdisciplinary environment that embraces colleagues from politics, international relations, sociology and criminology.

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