Centre for Critical Thought Lecture by Dr Sean Molloy – 23 November 2017, 5pm, ELT2

All are welcome (University staff, students and the general public) and no booking is necessary.

CCT Lecture

Dr Sean Molloy

‘Removing the “The Foul Stain of Our Species”? Mankind, Providence and the Prospect of Salvation in Kant.’

Day: Thursday 23 November 2017

Time: 17.00 – 18.30

Room: Eliot Lecture Theatre 2

All are welcome (University staff, students and the general public) and no booking is necessary.

Details of Dr Sean Molloy’s new book on Kant’s International Relations can be found here – https://www.press.umich.edu/5036715/kants_international_relations

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CCT Lecture by Dr Philip Cunliffe ‘Reflections on Lenin and the Russian Revolution 100 years on’ – 17 October 2017

Do come along for what promises to be a fascinating lecture.

Dr Philip Cunliffe

‘Reflections on Lenin and the Russian Revolution 100 years on’

Day: Tuesday 17 October

Time: 17.00 – 18.30

Room: Darwin Lecture Theatre 2

Open to all, no booking necessary

 More information about the book upon which this lecture is based can be found here:


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CCT Postgraduate Research Seminar: Conor Heaney, ‘Stupidity and Study in the Contemporary University’ 11/10/17, 3.30pm

‘Stupidity and Study in the Contemporary University’

Conor Heaney, Politics and International Relations (Kent)

Day: Wednesday 11 October

Time: 15.30 – 17.00

Room: TSR2 (Templeman Library Seminar Room 2)

All welcome!



‘Will study be possible in the university-to-come? Or will it be necessary to abandon the university in order to study? In this paper, I confront these questions through an analysis of the relationship between stupidity and study in the university today. The first two sections of this paper are focused on exploring the concepts of stupidity and study. In §1 I explore stupidity, and further, systemic stupidity, through a combined reading of Gilles Deleuze and Bernard Stiegler. In §2 I explicate the notion of study – and the connected notions of debt, credit, and the undercommons – through Stefano Harney & Fred Moten. Following this, I go on to explore two particular modes of the practice of our contemporary stupidity in the university connected to everyday bureaucratic practices. Building on these two examples, I then go on to suggest and argue for two projects of study in the university-t​o-come. Ultimately, this paper seeks to help open up a conceptual-practical space for exploration of alternative futures for the university beyond its present of neocolonialism and stupidity.’

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Guest Lecture with Paul Auerbach – ‘Social optimism: an alternative political economy for the 21st century’, 30/03/17

Centre for Critical Thought (CCT) talk with Paul Auerbach: Socialist optimism: an alternative political economy for the twenty-first century

Thursday 30 March 2017 at 17:00 in Grimond LT3

The Centre for Critical Thought invite you to their forthcoming talk with Paul Auerbach. Paul Auerbach, Reader in Economics at Kingston University, offers an alternative political economy for the twenty-first century in Socialist Optimism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Socialism as human development gives a unity and direction to progressive policies that are otherwise seen to be a form of pragmatic tinkering in the context of a pervasive capitalist reality.

All are welcome to attend this talk, full details can be found here.

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Politics after Poststructuralism Seminar Series – Dr Martin Crowley, 10 March 2017, 5pm

Dr Martin Crowley (Reader in Modern French Thought and Culture, University of Cambridge)
Title: ‘Bernard Stiegler’s Automatic Politics’
Politics after Poststructuralism Seminar Series
Venue: Keynes seminar room 14
Date and Time: 10 March 2017, 5pm

Martin Crowley (University of Cambridge)

Martin is Reader in Modern French Thought and Culture at Cambridge, and has published books on Robert Antelme and Marguerite Duras, and more recently, essays on Jean-Luc Nancy and Bernard Stiegler.  He is currently working on the question of hybrid or distributed agency, in particular the political possibilities offered by approaches to this question in the work of Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Bernard Stiegler, and Catherine Malabou; this is part of a wider project on French and Francophone philosophy and contemporary geopolitics.

‘Bernard Stiegler’s Automatic Politics’


In the first volume of his La Société automatique (2015), Bernard Stiegler considers the social and philosophical implications of the predicted imminent increase in the proportion of labour undertaken by automata. The aim of this paper is to provide an account of Stiegler’s analyses, to situate these in the context of his philosophy more broadly, and to draw out their implications for an understanding of politics in what a widespread shorthand likes to refer to as the age of the machines.

For Stiegler, the interpenetration of human and technical forms of life is nothing new. Developing the work of André Leroi-Gourhan and Gilbert Simondon, Stiegler sees these forms as coming into existence through transductive processes of mutual constitution. The social and political questions posed by particular technologies are consequently to be understood as questions of adoption: the human beings of a given era are formed in relation to their technical objects, but can subsequently shape this relation by adopting these objects as either beneficial or harmful, in an immanent process of recursive self-fashioning.

It is in these terms that La Société automatique analyses the predicted explosion of automation. For Stiegler, the social stakes of this development concern the definition of work and the link between work and remuneration; the political challenge is accordingly to foster the adoption of emergent technical forms in such a way as to provide a beneficial solution to these social questions. The politics of automation at work here needs to be taken beyond the question of adoption, however, into regions which Stiegler does not explore. For the mutual constitution of the human and the technical may imply a potentially more problematic reconceptualization of effective political agency: not as a possibility belonging to one of these forms only, but rather as distributed across the transductive relations through which the forms emerge. Arguing nevertheless against the purely descriptive, post hoc accounts of such composite processes offered by a Jane Bennett or a Bruno Latour, the paper will seek to determine how the trenchant quality of political agency as Stiegler configures it can be maintained within such an understanding of its processual distribution; it will engage this problem with specific reference to the role of algorithmically-generated news feeds in the production of ‘post-truth’ politics.

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Politics after Poststructuralism Seminar Series – seminar with Dr Nick Srnicek – 23 February, 5pm


Dr Nick Srnicek (Lecturer in International Political Economy, City University of London)
Title: ‘Platform Capitalism’
Politics after Poststructuralism Seminar Series
Venue: Keynes seminar room 17
Date and Time: 23 February 2017, 5pm

Lecturer in International Political Economy, Nick Srnicek co-authored with Alex Williams  #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics ​(2013), ​Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (Verso, 2015), and the recently published Platform Capitalism (Polity, 2016). His current research is on anti-work politics and social reproduction, and how the two separate areas can be fit together.

‘Platform Capitalism’


What unites Google and Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, Siemens and GE, Uber and Airbnb? Across a wide range of sectors, these firms are transforming themselves into platforms: businesses that provide the hardware and software foundation for others to operate on. This transformation signals a major shift in how capitalist firms operate and how they interact with the rest of the economy: the emergence of platform capitalism. This talk critically examines these new business forms, showing how the fundamental foundations of the economy are rapidly being carved up among a small number of monopolistic platforms, and how the platform introduces new tendencies within capitalism that pose significant challenges to any vision of a post-capitalist future.

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Conference on Comedy & Critical Thought: Laughter as Resistance? – 3-4 May 2016

The Centre for Critical Thought, the Centre for Comic and Popular Performance and the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent are hosting a conference on:


a two-day interdisciplinary conference scheduled on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 May 2016 at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

This interdisciplinary conference invites delegates to reflect on the possible role of comedy as critique. Critique, which finds its expression in both theory and practice, has  a long and turbulent history. Yet the issue of what it means to be critical and voice alternatives to the political and economic status quo now seems to be more important than ever. Several sites of resistance have recently developed in globalised society. It should come as no surprise that alongside Occupy, Anonymous and worldwide student protests, laughter is also part of the global emancipatory cry for alternatives. Throughout history, comedians and clowns have enjoyed a certain freedom to speak frankly often denied to others in hegemonic systems. Think only of King Lear’s ‘all-licensed Fool’ or Bakhtin’s conception of the carnivalesque. More recently, professional comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have developed platforms of comic license from which to critique the traditional political establishment and have managed to play an important role in interrogating and mediating the processes of politics in contemporary society. However, as it always has been in the past, these comic truth-speakers face the problem of co-option: are these comic voices genuinely effective in their critique or do they function as a mere safety valve tolerated to vent off dangerous steam? In this respect, comedy is not always necessarily critical but can also reinforce the status quo and function as a conservative tool or even as an exclusionary mechanism in the service of hierarchical power relations.

Whether recognised as a safe release for social tensions, a conservative reassertion of the dominant order through cruel laughter, or as a form of critical expression which may trouble and destabilise the status quo, comedy’s force warrants closer investigation.

Confirmed keynote speakers are Professor Alan Finlayson (University of East Anglia), Professor James Williams (Deakin University) and Dr Robert Porter (Ulster University). Delegates are also cordially invited to attend the annual Linda Smith Lecture on the evening of Tuesday 3 May, which will this year be delivered by British comedian Andy Hamilton. This conference further ties into the exhibition ‘There is an alternative! A selection of critical comics and cartoons’ which will run free of charge from 2 May to 1 July 2016 at the university’s Templeman Library. Projected conference fee is £15 to cover catering on both days (with concessions available for postgraduates). Please contact Dr Iain MacKenzie (I.MacKenzie@kent.ac.uk) or Dieter Declerq (dd324@kent.ac.uk) for more information.

To register for the conference click here.

The conference organisers:

Dr Iain Mackenzie, Dr Krista Bonello-Rutter-Giappone, Dr Oliver Double, Dieter Declercq and Fred Francis

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Workshop on ‘The Biopolitics of Race and Gender in Theory and Political Practice’

The Centre for Critical Thought is hosting a workshop on ‘The Biopolitics of Race and Gender in Theory and Political Practice’ on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December 2015.

Bridging the gap between biopolitical philosophy and the research of biopolitics in practice, the workshop critically unpacks government of race and gender in neoliberal contexts. It will bring together some of the leading scholars from the UK and beyond to discuss the latest developments in this rich, but still under-researched field of scholarly enquiry. The workshop is designed as a small-scale, intimate event, keeping presentations relatively short while focusing on intensive discussion, collaboration and the exploration of new (common) grounds.

Workshop on ‘The Biopolitics of Race and Gender in Theory and Political Practice’

Venue: Darwin Board room

Date: Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December 2015

Workshop Programme

Please e-mail Dr Iain MacKenzie or Hannah Richter in advance to confirm your attendance at the workshop.

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The Exchange Workshop – Friday 4 December 2015 at 4-6pm

The Exchange Workshop

​Friday 4 December 2015, week 10, 4-6pm, venue: Cornwallis North West seminar room 2

This workshop will be a participatory exchange event that will encourage an open discussion on the theme of Exchange. This event is being organised in view of developing the links with Tate established through the MA in Political Theory and Practices of Resistance at the Univiersity of Kent. This workshop will give students (and anyone and everyone who is interested) time to discuss the different definitions of exchange, its politics and how exchanges can take place. What is the most important exchange? What are the conditions of such an exchange? How can such an exchange be enacted? What possibilities of difference can such an exchange incite? This workshop is organised by, and will be led by, Dr Iain MacKenzie, Dr Charles Devellennes and PhD student Hollie Mackenzie in an open discussion and feedback format. During the workshop, we will participate in a collaborative practice of exchange. Materials will be provided.

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‘Marxism, Religion and Ideology: Themes from David McLellan’ book launch – 2pm on 11 November 2015

The Centre for Critical Thought and the School of Politics and International Relations would like to invite you to the book launch of Marxism, Religion and Ideology: Themes from David McLellan (Routledge, 2015). To celebrate this publication we have organised two lectures and a drinks reception on Wednesday 11th November 2015 at 2pm – 4pm in Grimond LT3. All are welcome to attend, no booking necessary.

Marxism, Religion and Ideology: Themes from David McLellan, Book Launch

The Centre for Critical Thought and the School of Politics and International Relations are pleased to announce the publication of Marxism, Religion and Ideology: Themes from David McLellan (Routledge, 2015). Few scholars have done as much to tease out the intricacies of Marx, ideology and religion and their overlapping concerns as the eminent writer and Marx biographer, Professor David McLellan. This book brings together a group of internationally renowned academics to reflect upon, develop and criticise McLellan’s analyses of these three themes with a view to contributing more broadly to scholarly debates in these fields. The book was edited by Dr David Bates (Canterbury Christ Church University), Dr Iain MacKenzie (University of Kent) and Professor Sean Sayers (University of Kent). Contributors include Lord Bhikhu Parekh, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams. The book also contains an essay in which Professor McLellan responds to the contributions in the book.

To celebrate this publication we have organised two lectures and a reception. Professor Sayers will present a summary of his chapter for the book and a visiting speaker, Dr Andrew Chitty (University of Sussex), will reflect on the writings of the early Marx and Professor McLellan’s contribution to our understanding of those texts. The talks will be from 2pm – 4pm, followed by a drinks reception in Grimond Foyer. Please come along and join us in celebrating Professor McLellan’s contribution to critical scholarship at the University of Kent.

Wednesday 11th November 2015 at 2pm 

 Grimond Lecture Theatre 3

 All welcome to attend, no booking necessary
The talk will be followed by a drinks reception in Grimond Foyer

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