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Authority & Political Technologies

  • Susan Buck-Morss (CUNY) Social Theory Centre Annual Lecture. Wednesday 26th April, 2017. 17.00-19.00, OC0.03
    Social Theory Centre Masterclass with Susan Buck-Morss. Thursday 27th April, 2017. 10.00-13.00, OC0.05
  • Critical Legal Conference 1-3 September 2017.

APT is part of the Social Theory Centre and an Institute for Advanced Studies research network involving colleagues and PhD students from a range of social-science disciplines who share a broad intellectual background influenced by ‘Foucaultian’, 'Deleuzian', ‘post-structuralist’ and ‘cultural-theory’ approaches. We focus on contemporary critical empirical work that pushes forward these perspectives. The group's diverse research interests include authority, (bio)politics, politics of religion/political theology, media, power-knowledge, association, new forms of society(ism), community, the commons, participation, political imaginaries, security, borders, techne, political economy and urban questions.

Nawal Sadaawi, Egyptian Feminist, at Tahrir Square, Cairo. Spring 2011.

Nawal Sadaawi, Egyptian Feminist, at Tahrir Square, Cairo. Spring 2011 - from commonist ethic

Rationale and Research Questions:

Recently, there have been various calls for a move beyond ‘post-structuralism’ (Foucault, Deleuze, cultural theory), which had long been seen as the radical edge of the critical social sciences. Such calls are motivated in part by the sense that post-structuralist philosophies - which were forged against a backdrop of totalitarian rule and burgeoning welfare states in Europe - fail to offer moral or political purchase in the contemporary landscape. Moreover, there is a sense that various concepts and theories have become reified and constraining – closing down the possibilities of critical thought. However, the issues that post-structuralist theory placed on the critical social science agenda have become more vital than ever - be that the concern for the complex and dispersed nature of power and agency; the imbrication of power and economics with knowledge and science; rethinking the relation between equality and difference; the political/contested/changing nature of embodiment, biology and ecology; or the efforts of states and others to establish and exercise power over life itself.

We maintain that now is not the time to reject post-structuralist perspectives, but rather to rearticulate and reinvigorate their value through interdisciplinary refection on the empirical and critical insights that emerge when we deploy and develop these ideas in the study of authority and political technologies. Thus we ask: What is the future of post-structuralist, Foucaultian, Deleuzian and cultural theory perspectives in the critical social sciences? What concepts and methods should we use to critique, describe and transform political technologies and authority in the present?

Warwick has a long association with leading thinking in this field, and over the last two years has had an influx of world leading and junior colleagues who share in this broad intellectual background. This research network will bring many of these colleagues and their PhD students together, to support each other’s work and to engage in collaborative reflection on empirical practice that will enable us to address the research questions above. We aim to establish an enduring research network with a regular series of events including termly group meetings, a regular reading group and an annual conference. If you would like to join the group, please contact Claire Blencowe.