Critical Studies Journal Inaugural Volume

September 4th, 2015 by Brighton CSRG

We are delighted to announce that the Critical Studies Research Group’s journal, Critical Studies, has recently published its inaugural volume. You can download the journal here.

The Practice of (in)visibility: 4th International CSRG Conference || 25-26th June’15

April 2nd, 2015 by Brighton CSRG

The Practice of (in)visibility: 4th International Critical Studies Research Group Conference

 25th and 26th June 2015
Grand Parade
University of Brighton


When politics, arts, history, ethics or philosophy are judged by their ability to disrupt what is visible and sayable, is there a danger that the potential political efficacy in remaining hidden is ignored and the possibility of intervention/action for the already unseen is inhibited? How do artistic practices reflect and engage in strategic invisibility? What are the artistic and political intersections of acting invisible? What kinds of visibility are afforded to whom? How can research approach invisibility without eliminating the invisibility it purports to study? Can there be a methodology of working around (in)visibility and if so what claims can it make to validity? What is the difference between choosing to perform a strategic invisibility and the (mis)performance of an imposed visibility? In what ways do we labour in visible resistance and invisible complicity?

We welcome proposals from a broad range of disciplines, for both research papers and non-conventional forms of presentation related to the conference theme. These might include performative papers, performances, workshops, and screenings. We also encourage transdiciplinary and interdisciplinary contributions.

The topics might concern, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Aesthetics, art and performance
  • The politics of the mask and ‘masking up’
  • Contemporary performance practices and negotiations of space through ‘blending in’
  • Politics, public policy, public services and whistleblowing
  • Democracy and/as visibility
  • Surveillance, policing and erasure of protests
  • Media, war and conflict, (in)visibility of bodies
  • Anonymity, pseudonyms, identity, non-identity, impact of technology on the self
  • Ghosts, witchcraft, affect, death, mourning, otherness, the incomprehensible/unintelligible
  • Non-spaces, heterotopias
  • Gender, race, oppression and (in)equality
  • Visible and invisible history, ‘hidden transcripts’ and the history from below
  • (In)visibility in research and academia, para-academia and open access publishing

Proposals should be no more than 300 words and, if relevant, can include links to online videos giving an indication of your performance practice. The deadline for proposals is the 20th April 2015. You can submit online at this link here.

The conference fee is £60 for waged attendees and £20 for students and unwaged. Registration Now Open



Keynote Speakers:

 Martin E. Jay, Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley

Martin E. Jay is the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. His work spans numerous fields, including European intellectual history, critical theory, and visual culture. He has published books on a wide range of topics, including Adorno (1984), Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (1993), and, most recently, Essays from the Edge: Parerga and Paralipomena (2011).


Michael O’Rourke Faculty of Gender Studies, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje, Macedonia

Michael O’Rourke is a visiting lecturer in the Faculty of Gender Studies, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje, Macedonia, he works mostly at the intersections between queer theory and continental philosophy. He is the author of Queer Insists (2014), Queering Speculative Realism (forthcoming), Rogue Theory (forthcoming) and co-author of The Pervert’s Guide to Reading (forthcoming). He has published extensively in the areas of Queer Theory, Deconstruction, Speculative Realism, Object Oriented Ontology, Psychoanalysis, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Feminist Theory.


For further information please email or

Re-engaging Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain – 30th Anniversary

March 2nd, 2015 by Brighton CSRG

Re-engaging Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain
A Thirtieth Anniversary Retrospective

10th-11th December 2015
Grand Parade
University of Brighton, UK

Understanding Conflict Research Cluster
Critical Studies Research Group


Prof Elaine Scarry
Prof Joanna Bourke

The year 2015 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain. In this seminal text, Scarry offers a radical and original thesis on the relationship between embodiment, pain, wounding and imagining, arguing that pain is central to “the making and unmaking of the world”. Widely regarded as a classic, the text has influenced work on notions of the body, war, torture and pain in a variety of academic disciplines – from philosophy, to anthropology, to cultural geography, to political theory, to many others – as well as informing debates and discussions in medical science, NGOs, charities and other parts of society.

In the years since its publication the text has only become more relevant as a growing number of scholars have taken account of various violences, at both the local and the global level, through an understanding of embodiment. Phenomena such as suicide bombing, ‘shock and awe’ tactics, neo-colonial occupation, the financialisation of abjection, anti-austerity occupation, the figure of the wounded veteran, memorialisation, and many others, have all been read through an understanding of the body and its relationship to power, violence and subjectivity.

In this two-day conference we will engage Scarry’s text with recent theoretical accounts of the body, pain, violence and subjectivity, as well as with forms of violence that have emerged in the light of new modes of war-waging and resistance. In this way we hope to reinvigorate some of The Body in Pain’s most well known arguments while bringing parts of the text that have received comparatively less attention to the fore.

We invite participants from the arts, humanities, social sciences or medical sciences to contribute to these discussions, along with those who have a personal, artistic or professional interest in the issues raised by The Body in Pain. Proposals for traditional academic papers, as well as alternative presentation formats such as artworks, performances, films and sound are welcome. Abstracts and inquiries should be sent to Tim Huzar ( or Leila Dawney ( Abstracts should be no more than three-hundred words, should be in .doc or .odt file format, and should include a title and a biography of the speaker. The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday 29th May 2015.

Authors should indicate if they wish to present a twenty minute paper, or a shorter (maximum ten minutes) working paper. Postgraduate students are especially encouraged to submit working papers, although would be welcome to submit in either category. There will be a limited number of travel bursaries for postgraduates; please indicate in your abstract submission if you would like to be considered for one of these.

The conference fee will be £100 for waged attendees and £25 for student / unwaged attendees.

The Understanding Conflict Research Cluster seeks to build a usable understanding of violent conflict and its human legacies by developing two areas of interdisciplinary investigation: ethical and political justifications of violence; and cultural and historical constructions of past, present and future. For more information please visit

The Critical Studies Research Group was founded in 2011 by postgraduate students, with the aim of providing an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of critical ideas and practices in light of the socio-political struggles we face today. For more information please visit


Ontologies of Conflict | Conference Programme and booking details

June 9th, 2014 by Brighton CSRG

Dear all, we are very happy to inform you that we finally have our interdisciplinary conference held over 16th-17th June in Grand Parade. Booking for the conference can be found here. Please forward to anyone you think may be interested.


Ontologies of Conflict

Conference Programme

Monday, June 16th

Grand Parade foyer
Welcome and registration
Boardroom, Grand Parade
Keynote lecture: Vlasta Jalušič, Peace institute, Ljubljana
Understanding violence (and power) in contemporary conflicts
Grand Parade Cafeteria
Boardroom, Grand Parade
Lars Cornelissen, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands
‘Like a Dog’: The Human Condition in a Neoliberal World
Regimantas Juras, Vilnius University, Lithuania
The problem of suffering in the structure–agency debate: three conceptions of agency
Paddy Tobias, University of New England, Australia
A Cycle of Conflict: the loss of identity when global contradicts local
Matthew Crowley, University of Brighton
Amicable Young Men? or, The Absence of Change: The (Re)Construction of Masculine Identities in Monica Dickens’s The Happy Prisoner (1946) and J.B. Priestley’s Three Men in New Suits(1945)
Grand Parade Cafeteria
Coffee break
Boardroom, Grand Parade
Kevin Buton, University of Lyon III, France
Time and Tactics: A Forgotten French Argument
Mark Devenney, University of Brighton
The violence of ontological arguments
Liesbeth Schoonheim, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
The Impotence of the New: Claude Lefort on Political Change in an Age of ‘Invisible Ideology’
The Wooden Belly
Conference dinner


Tuesday, June 17th

Grand Parade foyer
Boardroom, Grand Parade
German Primera, University of Brighton
The signature of Life: From Butler’s social ontology to Agamben’s politicization of ontology
Tim Huzar, University of Brighton
An “Insurrection” of Ontology? Judith Butler’s Poetics of Politics
Heather McKnight, University of Brighton
Towards Violent Utopias?  Butler and Agamben in the ‘darkness of the lived moment’
Grand Parade Cafeteria
Boardroom, Grand Parade
Mike Diboll, University of Brighton
Primordialist Faultline or Political Society Struggle? Huntington, Chatterjee and Ontologies of Violence in Bahrain
Elizabeth Johnson, North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa
Interface of Global War and Domestic Insurgencies: Taming Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria
Adriana Roque Romero, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Normativities of Violence: Colombia on the Verge of Reconciliation
Jeremy Evans, University of Brighton
The epistemology of inshore fishing: socio-ecological resilience beyond marine conservation zones
Grand Parade Cafeteria
Boardroom, Grand Parade
Keynote lecture
Boardroom, Grand Parade
Closing plenary

Programme of CSRG work-in-progress sessions | Summer Term 2014

May 2nd, 2014 by Brighton CSRG

29/04 – Nicola Clewer
The Holocaust and the Sublime: From Adorno’s “after-Auschwitz” aporia to the “memory industry’s” turn to affect

06/05 – Zeina Maasri
Beirut’s Cosmopolitan Promise: Graphic Design between the National and the Transnational

13/05 – Tim Huzar
Neoliberalism, Democracy and the Library as a Radically Inclusive Space

20/05 – Toby Lovat
Why is there something rather than nothing? On Meillassoux

27/05 – Will Hughes
Arthur Danto’s ‘End of Art’: The End of Modernism as Telos of Art History

03/06 – Megan Archer
Biopolitics: the extension of techniques of power into digitized life

10/06 – Jeremy Evans
Human Animal Rights: the space for radical municipalities

Everybody welcome. All sessions are at 1-2pm, room B5 Pavilion Parade.


Registration Open for ‘Protest and the University of Brighton’ Symposium

April 22nd, 2014 by Brighton CSRG

Protest and the University of Brighton

One Day Symposium

Critical Studies Research Group

Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics

Saturday 10th May 2014

Grand Parade

Free for students / unwaged, £20 waged

Online Registration

This one day symposium, organised by the Critical Studies Research Group (CSRG) and the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics (CAPPE), will look at the history of protest at University of Brighton in relation to current struggles against the privatisation of higher education.

How is protest at University of Brighton remembered, and what is the effect of this on current and future forms of protest? How do we account for the privatisation of higher education, and what can theory tell us about resistance? How is solidarity maintained across different forms of protest? What lessons from the past can help us stake a claim in the university of the present?

Please see below for the symposium programme. For more information please contact Tim Huzar:

10:00 – 10:30


10:30 – 12.45

Chris Cocking – Policing Student Protests: Criminalising Dissent?

Bob Brecher – The Humanities Programme as Protest: 1985 – 2014

Tim Huzar – Democracy as Protest: Towards an Alternative Students’ Union

Tom Hickey – Trade Union Protest at the University of Brighton

12:45 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:40

Lucy Pearce – A Question of Historical Consciousness: the Cultural Memory of May 1968 in the Student Protests 2010

Tom Akehurst, Louise Purbrick, Lucy Robinson – After the Winter of Discontent

Sue Gollifer, Naomi Salaman, Lizzie How, Molly Maher, Tilly Sleven, Lois Mckendrick, Phoebe Hill – Any Questions? From the Occupation at the Brighton School of Art 1968

14:40 – 15:00

Coffee Break

15:00 – 16:00

Workshop / Discussion

16:00 – 16:15

Closing Remarks

The CSRG was founded in 2011 by postgraduate students in the School of Humanities, University of Brighton, with the aim of providing an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of critical ideas and practices in light of the socio-political struggles we face today. The challenges that interdisciplinarity might pose are counteracted by our shared interest in the role and scope of critical thought and practice in the context of contemporary capitalism. For more information on the CSRG, please visit:

CAPPE was founded in 2005, with the aim of bringing together philosophy both with other disciplines and with the wider public. It intervenes in the public arena on the basis of a commitment to rigour, clarity and criticism and to extend the practice of philosophy beyond its narrowly academic boundaries. For more information on CAPPE, please visit:

2nd CfP: Ontologies of Conflict | Keynote Speakers

April 16th, 2014 by Brighton CSRG

Ontologies of Conflict

3rd Critical Studies Research Group International Conference

School of Humanities, University of Brighton

16-17th June 2014

Keynote speakers:
Vlasta Jalusic, Peace institute, Ljubljana
Brad Evans, University of Bristol


In recent times there has been a renewed interest in extending the understanding of conflict in both its scope and its effects; this has brought to the fore questions surrounding the relationship between conflict and ontologies. Conflict can now be understood as encompassing a broad range of phenomena, from its traditional preserve of violent confrontation, to structural or systemic violences, to the ‘private’ as well as the ‘public’, and to cultural and social antagonisms. Rather than simply a negative notion, positive valences of conflict have been embraced, whether from the neoliberal logic of competition or from the post-structural valorisation of ‘dissensus’. At the same time conflict’s traditional setting – war – has undergone a transformation, the forces of globalisation prioritising time over space, catalysing rapid technological change, and resulting in a shift in the strategies of war and in the relationship between the embodied human and the new technologies of injuring.

As our understanding of conflict broadens and deepens, and the new forms of war we wage (or are exposed to) alter dominant understandings of violence and bodily destruction, what effect does this have on the nature of selfhood and the worlds in which we live? In what ways has ontology itself become a target and site of violence, state or otherwise? Can conflict be universalised, or can it only be understood in its particular relationships to gender, race, class, sexuality and disability? In what ways are our understandings of conflict framed by underpinning ontologies? When we conceptualise a world mired in violence, what ontologies do we presuppose? What ethics can we draw from an analysis of conflict? Who is the privileged ‘we’ capable of explaining the topic of ‘conflict’, one of whose effects, it could be argued, is the very interruption and deconstruction of explanatory frameworks?

Topics for discussion and presentation might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Structural violence and the transformation of the self/world.
  • Language and conflict: is language itself inherently, inexorably, violent?
  • The relationship between the global and the local in conflict.
  • Past, present and future paradigms underpinning the logic of conflicts.
  • Ontology in time and space: contexts and scenarios for an ontology of conflict.
  • Empathy, technology and the politics of (dis)embodied violence.
  • Conflict and/as the political.
  • Memory, narrative and the transformation of conflict.
  • Conflict and the (re)construction of selves.
  • The politics of life and Violence

The conference is interdisciplinary in its scope, and is particularly (but not exclusively) aimed at postgraduate colleagues working in philosophy, political theory, history, law, sociology, war and peace studies, memory studies, gender studies, international relations, cultural studies and geography.

The conference fee will be £60 (waged), £20 (unwaged / student).

Abstracts of no more than two hundred words should be sent to Tim Huzar: The deadline for abstracts is Friday 2dn of May.

The Critical Studies Research Group (CSRG) was founded in 2011 by postgraduate students in the School of Humanities, University of Brighton, with the aim of providing an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of critical ideas and practices in light of the socio-political struggles we face today. The challenges that interdisciplinarity might pose are counteracted by our shared interest in the role and scope of critical thought and practice in the context of contemporary capitalism.

For more information on the CSRG, please contacts us on

Beyond Heroes and Villains: punishment, performance and ‘post-conflict’ masculinities in British Islamist Extremism | Zia Ali

March 17th, 2014 by Brighton CSRG

Tomorrow (17th March) Zia Ali will be presenting a paper entitled “Beyond Heroes and Villains: punishment, performance and ‘post-conflict’ masculinities in British Islamist Extremism” which is aimed at exploring the grounds for his doctoral project. As (almost) always, we will meet at 13.00 at room 202, Pavilion Parade. Zia has kindly written an abstract which is included below. Everyone welcome!


This paper will outline the framework for a practical case study that will investigate the origins, locations and historical contexts underlying the call to violence and extremism in young Muslim men (16-21). The research will navigate the unchartered territories between the embodied and disembodied memories of perpetrators and the cultural corporeality of their collectives. How, when and why does the call to extremism originate? How can dimensions of memory – or ‘postmemory’ – be revisited, re-imagined and represented to transform legacies of violence? This enquiry is predicated on the idea that Islamist extremism not only involves questions of justice and punishment within a broader ideological context, but also conjunctions with heroic and mythical constructions of masculinity. Drawing from the work of young men’s mentoring charity, ‘A Band of Brothers,’ the case study will utilise tools of mythodrama, storytelling and somatic movement to investigate the transformative capacity of liminal spaces for performative testimonies of violence to be ‘witnessed’ and critically examined. Can such liminal spaces offer possibilities of building ‘post-conflict territories and masculinities, both psychologically and culturally. The paper will also refer to specific disciplines and areas of critical theory – such as postcolonial theory, traumatology, performance studies and dynamical systems theory – that are being explored at this early stage of the research as potential theoretical lenses for the case study.”

Exclusion through participation: the subsumption of dissent in the neoliberal university | Garikoitz Gómez Alfaro

February 24th, 2014 by Brighton CSRG

Open discussion tomorrow  | 13.00-14.00, 102 room Pavilion Parade.
This is an event organised within the Student Engagement week.

student handjob

This presentation stems from the mistrust and alienation that surrounds Engagement Week 2014 organised by Brighton University Student Union. The underlying thesis (or, better said, intuition) of this presentation is that the university, as an institution that is not just complicit but also instrumental in the implementation of a neoliberal rationality, has not only discouraged self-organisation but also has criminalised protest. In this context, I will argue, our bureaucratic Student Union has not “engaged” in the current struggles that take place within the university, but rather has been more interested in policing academic institutions with the objective of securing what is seems to be the most precious asset: student experience. Such concept, ambiguous as it is, is surrounded by a another terms, some of which excel in ambiguity as well (concepts such as student satisfaction or, my favourite, student engagement), to the extent that one wonders whether “student experience” could be considered as the effect of university management discourse. Where does the Student Union stands on the current political-economical landscape? Why do we need an engagement week in which, for example, commit ourselves to good causes? Isn’t the struggle over an autonomous university a good cause enough for the increasingly precarious mass of students? or is the university so enmeshed in and captured by contemporary capitalism that it is not worth reacting, as André Gorz argued in 1970? And what’s more, can the university, as the collective Edu-factory asked, be create place for a community of “struggle and exodus, for the political composition of differences in a space-time of class, just as the factory was for the working class”?

Please note that this will not be a paper about my work. This presentation is aimed at offering a space of reflection for the University’s postgraduate community (who’s being constantly reminded through unimail that we need a postgrad leader) with regard to the current state of affairs at our institution and, more concretely, the role NUS and especially our Student Union plays in it. It is also meant to build up for the “Protest and the University of Brighton” symposium that will take place in May.
Everyone welcome!

On Ugly Lives – Michael Neu | CSRG Seminar

February 17th, 2014 by Brighton CSRG


The next work in progress seminar will take place tomorrow Tuesday (18th February) with Michael Neu‘s presentation: ‘On Ugly Lifes”. You can find an abstract below. The seminar will take place at 1-2pm in Pavilion Parade, room 102. We’ll meet in the foyer a couple of minutes before to show the way to those unfamiliar with the building. Hope to see you all there!

This is a paper on the ugliness of human lives in liberal capitalist democracies, or immaculate liberal societies, as I shall call them; ugliness not as a physical attribute but as a facet of conduct and attitude. When I talk about ugly conduct, I mean human complicity in suffering (I focus primarily on human suffering, but think that what I say might apply to non-human suffering as well). Indifference about suffering is what I refer to as ugly attitude. The people whose ugly lives I write about have both of these features; they are complicit in suffering and indifferent about it – both about the suffering itself and their being complicit in it. The discovery of complicity and indifference might require a degree of attentive silence and reflection, rather than the frenetic study of daily news. It is not clear to me whether or not, and to what extent, indifferent accomplices (i.e., those who engage in ugly conduct and hold ugly attitudes) are suitable subjects of moral condemnation. Some of them might well be, assuming anybody is; others might not. I am going to talk about human beings, then, who are complicit in, and indifferent about, suffering; who ought not to be that way; and whom it is difficult to condemn – and not always possible to deplore.