Political Theory at Kent: Work in Progress and Book Launch

Students and staff recently spent a day presenting and discussing political theory, before the book launch of Dr Ben Turner’s new book, “Returning to Judgment”.

Students and staff researching political theory attended a work-in-progress event and Dr Ben Turner’s book launch on the 19th of May 2023. These events, organised by Peter Marshall, Kamila Kwapińska, and Ben Turner, brought together staff, students and alumni of Kent, as well as staff from other universities (Canterbury Christ Church, Ulster, and Groningen).  A series of four presenters covered a plurality of topics in political theory, followed by vibrant discussions. The topics covered ranged from Adam Smith’s relationship to colonialism (Dr Charles Devellennes), to ecological economics and metaphysics (Kamila Kwapińska), to problematising the practice and concept of critique (Jonjo Brady), to how Tinder affects how we think about love (Dr Lewis Bloodworth).

This workshop was opened by Dr Iain MacKenzie, celebrating the breadth and depth of the work in political theory at Kent in recent years, in spite of problems such as COVID-19 and broader political difficulties. Many of the presenters and attendees have been supervised by Iain, and all have been supported and learnt from him. So, in a way, the work-in-progress event also marked a celebration of Iain’s incredible (pedagogical) legacy in political theory.

The day was concluded by the book launch of “Returning to Judgment: Bernard Stiegler and Continental Political Theory” by Dr Ben Turner, and was chaired by Dr Conor Heaney. This was a hybrid event, with a full room in person for Ben’s presentation. In his opening statements, Conor noted the timeliness of Ben’s volume, providing an informative, in-depth, and valuable contribution to contemporary debates in continental political thought. Ben provided an overview of the book, covering Stiegler’s philosophical journey, motivations, key concepts, and utility in regard to contemporary theoretical debates. For Ben, a key takeaway of Stiegler’s work is the importance of both recognising the contingency of the meaning of humanity, whilst also the necessity of practicing judgment to give humanity meaning. Conor then structured the initial questions around two themes, judgement and concepts, before opening up to broader questions.

The day allowed for those who study, read, and research political theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations to celebrate all the excellent work they have done this year and beyond.

Find Dr Ben Turner’s book here.