Posts from November 2014

From Peking to Paris: China and the First World War

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Our very own Anne Witchard will be appearing an exciting-looking event at Asia House in February to mark the publication of a new series of Penguin China books which includes Anne’s England’s Yellow Peril: Sinophobia and the Great War:

From Peking to Paris: China and the First World War 
February 3rd 2015, 6.45 – 8.00 pm
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G

During the First World War, 95,000 Chinese farm labourers volunteered to leave their remote villages and work for Britain. They were labelled “the forgotten of the forgotten”, as their stories failed to form part of the public record on the War. This is just one example of many of the lesser known stories relating to China and the Great War. But these stories are now starting to be addressed.

To mark the centenary of the First World War, Penguin China has published a series of short histories on the economic and social costs it brought to China and the Chinese. Each book – written by a leading expert in the field – tells a fascinating tale which will fill the gaps of your China and WWI knowledge, including the only land battle in East Asia fought by Japan and Britain against the German concession in Shandong.

Further details at:

Modernist Children seminar Nov 26th

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Wednesday 26 November, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Dr Daniela Caselli, University of Manchester
“Modernist Children​”

Modernism and the child are a rather disconcerting couple: where the first term stands for serious and radically experimental literature suspicious of the masses, the second is associated with spontaneity, simplicity, and sentimentality. Yet, the apparent incompatibility of this pair (artifice and nature) is celebrated by modernist authors: in his writings of the 1920s, Roger Fry recommended artists to look at the world with the innocence of a child; Virginia Woolf referred in her diaries to her ‘childish vision’; and Pablo Picasso famously quipped that ‘if an adult can draw like a child at forty he is a genius’. Joyce’s Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are often read as reproducing a child’s mind, and so are Woolf’s The Waves and sections of To the Lighthouse. Generation and parturition are central metaphors in H.D.’s work, whilst children are the focus of many short stories by Katherine Mansfield. Walter Benjamin broadcast children’s programmes in 1929 and 1930; Gertrude Stein made extensive use of ‘childish’ language in her prose; and Wyndham Lewis, in contrary fashion, deplored the ‘child cult’ that, for him, afflicted modernists from Stein to Hemingway and Anderson. The pervasiveness of the child’s presence in early twentieth-century literature has gone almost unrecorded . The project from which this paper derives argues that such an oversight is relevant because the child in modernism signals a disavowed attachment to the notion of the human in the midst of revolutionary and self-critical aesthetic practices. The paper looks at some examples from Woolf, Joyce, and Beckett to analyse the allegedly invisible nexus of self-evident, material affectivity – the child – in the context of a disenchanted project of modernism that is still, however, fascinated by the pull of materiality.

The Anthropocene: Cities, Politics, Law as Geological Agents

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The Anthropocene: Cities, Politics, Law as Geological Agents

November 25 2014, 17.00 – 19.00, followed by a drinks reception
Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London

The Anthropocene has been posited as a new geologic epoch, defined by unprecedented human disturbance of the earth’s ecosystems. Buildings and cities, politics and law come into view as geological agents mobilising earth materials, minerals and energies, with unintended consequences becoming increasingly palpable. For some, the anthropocene signals the final enclosure of politics and culture within ecology; for others it calls for more rationality, planning and management; for others, the unitary ‘human’ of the anthropocene hides political difference and elevates a particular kind of consumer into a motor of history.

In this, the first of a series of panel discussions between the Faculties of Architecture and Built Environment and Social Sciences and Humanities aiming to open up novel and trans-disciplinary conversations between scholars in different fields working on matters of common concern, these issues will be debated.

FABE: Jon Goodbun, Senior Lecturer in Architecture; Tony Lloyd Jones, Reader in International Planning and Sustainable Development

SSH: Lucy Bond, Lecturer in English Literature; David Chandler, Professor of International Relations, CSD; Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law & Theory

Discussant: Lindsay Bremner, Director of Architectural Research

Register here via Eventbrite:

Empathic Media seminar, Nov 12th

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Wednesday 12 November, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Dr Andy McStay, Bangor University
“Exploring the Pharmacology of Empathic Media: Health, Wearables and Analytics​”

This talk provides an account of  ‘empathic media’ in relation to health, wearable technologies and data analytics. Developed in Andy McStay’s recent book Privacy and Philosophy: New Media and Affective Protocol (2014), this odd sounding expression has less to do with sympathy, but technologies able to interpret people and their environments by means of text, images, facial recognition, speech, behaviour, gesture and bodily movement. Although there are questions to be asked in regard to data and privacy, the focus of this talk is on the ‘pharmacological’ dimensions of empathic media – or that which is both poison and cure. Developed by Bernard Stiegler (but appropriated from Jacques Derrida and originally Plato), this principle of moral ambivalence applies well to the growth of emotion-sensitive technologies in the area of health. In developing these topics, the paper reflects on interviews conducted with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office on empathic media and data processing, and wearable health companies in the Silicon Valley region of the US.

Final Reminder: Educational Eliminationism symposium, Nov 7th

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Educational Eliminationism & Cultural Colonization
Friday 7th November, 2pm – 6pm (followed by drinks reception)
Westminster Forum, 5th Floor, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T

A HEAT (Higher Education & Theory) Symposium, co-hosted by Institute for Modern & Contemporary Culture (IMCC) and the Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) at the University of Westminster.

David J. Blacker, author of The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame, defines educational eliminationism as a state of affairs in which elites no longer find it necessary to utilize mass schooling as a first link in the long chain of the process of the extraction of workers’ surplus labour value but instead cut their losses and abandon public schooling altogether. In The Art School and the Culture Shed, John Beck and Matthew Cornford have charted the decline of local art schools and concordant rise of the ‘destination’ art gallery, and asked what this tells us about the changing relationship between the function of education and art in the new creative economy. Nina Power (One-Dimensional Woman) argues that current attacks on the education system are part and parcel of a broader war on cognitive and immaterial labour, upon which the art world provides a peculiarly privileged vantage point.

Drawing on the etymological and political association between culture and colonization, this symposium seeks to investigate the currently shifting relationship between education and culture through the themes of eliminationism and colonization.

rsvp to the organizer: