Oxford Work in Progress Political Theory Seminar
Kushti Westwood: 'Sex Work, Exploitation & Struggle' Comments by Becky Clark
Sania Ismailee: 'Uniform Civil Code is about Jurisdictional Autonomy: Perspective from Political Theory' Comments by Shai Agmon
The seminar will take place on Thursday, 4-6pm in the Butler Room at Nuffield College.
This is a hybrid session. If you cannot participate in person, please let us know (email@example.com) and we will ensure you can join online.
Out of the Question, Community: A Reading Seminar on Maurice Blanchot
At once everywhere and nowhere, the question of community insists today more than ever. Drawing out Blanchot's perspective will be our goal.
How to pose the question of community today? That is: how to pose it in a world globalized yet characterized by a tendency to increase the protection of borders? How to pose it on a continent whose union some of its members have recently “exited”, and whose territory was, for the first time since WWII, recently invaded and has been a battleground ever since? How to pose the question of community in a cultural context that (finally) deems diversity and inclusion of vital importance but struggles to realize “inclusive” communities?
Impossible and necessary, community then seems to be everywhere and nowhere to be found. But was community ever anywhere to be found? Or does something within its very idea defy the possibility of a locus?
In this reading seminar, we will make a joint attempt at evaluating if and how Maurice Blanchot’s pathbreaking The Unavowable Community can help us pose the question of community today. The text, published in 1983 and consisting of the essays “The Negative Community” and “The Community of Lovers”, formed a direct response to a text on the same topic by Jean-Luc Nancy, itself a reading of Blanchot’s work, and theorizes community as exposure to loss. As the backflap of the English translation has it, The Unavowable Community “is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly ‘communal.’ The problem, for Blanchot, is that the very terms of an ideal community make an ‘avowal’ of membership in it a violation of the terms themselves.”
Rhythmed by the progression of The Unavowable Community, of which we will close-read small portions each session, as well as context-providing readings and filmic excursions, we hope to come to an understanding of community as exposure to loss. Along the way, we will, too, problematize the idea’s articulation in the work’s structure: how to posit a loss without betraying it? If community is exposure to loss, how, indeed, are we to come together and read it? Picking up yet another of Blanchot’s gloves, we will continue some of the discussions on the self-loss of the One in relation to the Other initiated during last term’s Autofiction & Blanchot reading group. If my relation to the Other can only emerge as a relation without relation, would our community not be a matter of holding the hands that never hold?
The event takes place on Thursday 1 June 2023 between 4:30 and 6:30pm at Worcester College
To register please click here.
Professor Paul Cooke (Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds): 'Changing the Story: Youth-led development, Accountability and Voice'
This will be a hybrid seminar between 11-12noon in the Big Data Institute, Lower Ground Seminar Room 0.
In this talk, I’ll give an overview of some of the work carried out by the AHRC/GCRF Network Plus programme Changing the Story: building civil society with and for young people in conflict-affected settings (https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk/). This was a 5 year project working in 12 conflict affected settings that sought to explore the efficacy of youth-led development programmes run in partnership with a wide variety of civil society organisations. In the process I’ll explore a range of issues that emerged from this work, highlighting the limits of, and challenges to, youth-led project design in many development settings, as well as the role of participatory arts-based methods in this work. I’ll discuss the extent to which such practices can, on the one hand, provide a useful space to question extant power structures, thereby amplifying the voices of the young people involved. Yet on the other, they can also play into these same structures, potentially emphasising the marginal position of young people in such settings, preventing them from either speaking or being listened to.
If you would like to join online, please register here.