Rethinking agency: Engaged research and ethical responsibility

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Kingston University London

Penrhyn Road campus

Room: JG1007

Kingston upon Thames


United Kingdom

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A training and development day for PhD students and researchers in the arts and humanities

This event aims to interrogate our understandings of agency in relation to research, writing, performance and creative practice. It explores questions surrounding the production of knowledge, one of the main aims of PhD research.

How do we engage in thinking and produce concepts that address the cultural and political specificities of our contemporary condition?

How can we practise socially-engaged and ethically-responsible scholarship?

This day-long event investigates ways in which research may account for the ongoing differentiation and increasing complexity of today’s world.

The proposed activities revolve around three core aspects:

  • An invitation to consider and reorient our research in relation to questions posed by our contemporary moment (including perspectives on posthumanism, post- and de-colonialism, neoliberalism, human rights)

  • An engagement with and discussion of case studies in a range of research areas: performing arts, creative writing, cultural geography, philosophy, political theory, human rights

  • An introduction, through workshop activities, to creative practices engaging with questions of agency and ethical responsibility

This development day is open to TECHNE-funded PhD students from any discipline and will be of particular interest to researchers working on questions concerning socially-engaged theories and practices and looking to situate their research in relation to ethical issues raised by the contemporary world.

Registration is required: please use the link above.

Following an introduction and welcome by the lead organiser, Dr Daniela Perazzo Domm (Kingston University London), the day will unfold through these main events:

  • A workshop led by Dr Claudia Kappenberg (University of Brighton)

This workshop draws on the Bataillean concepts of uselessness, excess and non-productive expenditure, as well as on Catherine Clement’s contemporary re/imagining of these ideas through her concept of Syncope, her science of pauses and philosophy of rapture. Borrowing from familiar figures such as the court jester, the joker, the trickster, the angel, the mute and the foreigner, the workshop will explore how uselessness, traditionally associated with failure and waste, might be reclaimed as that which renders us more human.

  • A roundtable discussion on agency and engaged research bringing together Performing Arts and Humanities academics from Kingston University London and University of Surrey:

Dr Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca (performance philosophy, Surrey)

Dr Antonio Cerella (political theory, Kingston)

Prof Tina Chanter (philosophy and gender theory, Kingston)

Dr Helen Palmer (English and creative writing, Kingston)

  • A workshop led Dr Beatrice Jarvis (Kingston University London) and Dr Bob Jarvis (University of Sussex)

This workshop explores the role of the artist as cultural producer. Envisioning performance as a site of possibility, a re-reading of spatial reality, it reflects upon methodologies for socially engaged and participatory practice (including choreography, urban geography, performance ethnography) and on their potential to articulate social response. Through practical exercises, it explores the process of participation and the relationship between performance and civic agency.

For further information, please contact the organiser:


Kingston University London, Penrhyn Road campus

Room: JG1007 (first floor of John Galsworthy building through Main Building: please ask at main reception for directions)

Event schedule

10.15-10.40: welcome and introduction by Daniela Perazzo Domm

10.40-11.40: keynote by Sumi Madhok on “rethinking agency”

11.45-12.45: workshop led by Claudia Kappenberg

12.45-13.45: lunch

13.45-15.15: roundtable discussion: Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca, Antonio Cerella, Tina Chanter, Helen Palmer

15.15-15.30 break

15.30-16.30: workshop led by Beatrice Jarvis and Bob Jarvis

16.30-17.00: questions, closing remarks and networking

Contributors’ biographies

Dr Antonio Cerella is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory and International Studies at Kingston University London. His research lies at the crossroads of international political theory, continental philosophy and political theology. He is the co-editor of The Sacred and the Political (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Heidegger & the Global Age (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017). His new book, Genealogies of Political Modernity, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2019.

Prof Tina Chanter is Professor of Philosophy and Gender at Kingston University, London. She is author of six monographs, editor of several collections, and has published many essays. Her interests include gender theory, and the relationship between politics and art.

Dr Beatrice Jarvis isLecturer in Dance at Kingston University London. Sheis a creative facilitator, choreographer, and researcher. As a dance artist, she works in Bucharest, Romania, Berlin, Germany and Northern Ireland to generate large-scale and site-specific choreographic works that explore the social potential of embodied movement practices. Her socio-choreographic research has been profiled within Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, dOCUMENTA (13), The National School of Art Bucharest, Galway Dance Festival, Goldsmiths CUCR Tate, and the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting.

Dr Bob Jarvis is a town planner with extensive experience in urban design teaching and research. From 1987 to 2015 he taught urban design at London South Bank University. He worked at Milton Keynes Development Corporation and undertook a two-year research project on the environmental aspects of Tyne and Wear County Council’s structure plan. His research and writing has focused on town planning as an art and urban design as choreography. He is currently pursuing a second PhD at Sussex University.

Dr Claudia Kappenberg is Principal Lecturer in the School of Media of the University of Brighton. Her research focuses on moving image, live and interdisciplinary performance practices and screendance, as well as the historical and theoretical narratives which underpin these practices. Her work is framed by a wider interest in questions of representation, feminist discussions and contemporary debates on neoliberalist politics and their impact on the artist and artistic production. She is founding editor of The International Journal of Screendance, as well as peer-reviewer for academic journals and research councils.

Dr Sumi Madhok is Associate Professor of Transnational Gender Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism, Gender and Rights (2013); the co-editor of Gender, Agency and Coercion (2013) and of the Sage Handbook of Feminist Theory (2014). Dr Madhok is an interdisciplinary scholar and her teaching and scholarship lie at the intersection of feminist political theory and philosophy, coloniality and postcoloniality, transnational activism and social movements, rights/human rights, citizenship, developmentalism and ethnography.

Dr Helen Palmer is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University London, working at the intersections of philosophy, speculative writing and critical theory. Her research interests include the avant-garde, queer performance, critical theory, gender, the body, synaesthesia, intersectional feminism, utopias/dystopias, afrofuturism and new materialism. She is the author of Deleuze and Futurism: A Manifesto for Nonsense (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Queer Defamiliarisation and New Materialism: Writing Feminist Matter(s), (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2018).

Organisers’ biographies

Dr Daniela Perazzo Domm is Senior Lecturer in Dance at Kingston University London. Her research interrogates the intersections of the aesthetic and the political in contemporary choreography. She writes on the po(i)etic, critical and ethical potentialities of experimental and collaborative dance practices. Her publications include articles in Performance Philosophy, Choreographic Practices,Contemporary Theatre Reviewand Dance Research Journal(forthcoming). Her first monograph, Jonathan Burrows: Towards a Minor Dance, will be published by Palgrave in 2019. She is co-convenor of the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA).

Dr Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca is Reader in Theatre and Performance at the University of Surrey, where she directs the Centre for Performance Philosophy. She is core convener and founder of the Performance Philosophy network, joint editor of the Performance Philosophy book series with Palgrave Macmillan and joint editor of the Performance Philosophy journal launched in 2015. She is author of Theatres of Immanence: Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance (2012); editor of Deleuze and Performance(2009) and co-editor of Encounters in Performance Philosophy (2014) with Alice Lagaay and Manifesto Now! Instructions for Performance, Philosophy, Politics (2013) with Will Daddario.

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Kingston University London

Penrhyn Road campus

Room: JG1007

Kingston upon Thames


United Kingdom

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