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  4. Seminar Series: ‘The Critical Citizen?’

Seminar Series: ‘The Critical Citizen?’

Responding to the widespread cynicism, disengagement and alienation citizens across the globe express towards official political cultures, this series investigates the idea of ‘the critical citizen’. What constitutes a critical citizen? And can a critical citizenry be (re-) activated as an antidote to contemporary political crises?

Apr 6

Becoming your own boss in the gig economy, a story of disappointment

Thursday 6 April 2023, 16:00 – 17:00 BST


Speakers: Tim Christaens

Labour platform companies like Uber and Deliveroo often attract workers with promises of workplace autonomy absent in most low-pay jobs. Instead of working for a boss, workers can allegedly work with platform companies to establish their own little business. Hereby, platform companies purportedly accommodates for workers' critiques of domination at work. Unfortunately, reality is often far removed from this initial promise. Domination has not disappeared, but has become automated via digital technology. In this presentation, I will discuss how the algorithmic domination of labour limits worker autonomy and which institutions the critical citizen could use to enhance autonomy. More details and register via Eventbrite.

Apr 13

The conditions of planetary citizenship

Thursday 13 April 2023, 16:00 – 17:00 BST


Speakers: Engin Isin

This lecture outlines the conditions that are creating planetary citizenship movements in the 21st century. The planetary citizens are activists, cosmopolitical, agonistic, solidaristic, and disobedient. The planetary citizens are mobile, multiple, and transversal. They act against injustice and for justice by performing abolishment, disobedience, refusal, and resistance. We will discuss how the gatekeepers have taken notice and developed various strategies of incorporation, pacification, and immobilization of planetary citizenship movements. More details and register via Eventbrite.

May 4

Citizens’ Voices, People’s News: Making the media work for Wales

Thursday, 4 May 2023, 16:00 – 17:00 BST


Speakers: Donna Smith, Michelle Matheron and Dylan Moore

How does the media help people to understand politics? What do citizens think about the news they consume – do they trust it and how well do they understand it? And in a devolved nation like Wales where many people consume media from England, what role does the media have to play in a healthy democracy? All of these questions and more were explored last year by The Open University and the Institute of Welsh Affairs through a citizens panel on media and democracy. Over the course of 19 hours, we worked with 15 citizens from across Wales to help them understand and analyse Wales’ media landscape and come up with recommendations to improve the media, and democracy education in Wales. Join us for at this event to find out more about this innovative approach to citizen engagement, to discover what our panel recommended, and to hear reflections from those working on the project on both the process and the findings. More details and register via Eventbrite.

May 11

Lurking, Close Looking

Thursday 11 May 2023, 16:00 – 17:00 BST


Speakers: Verity-Jane Keefe

What happens when you stay, ageing with places, accidental love affairs and how to leave and detangle? What is the role and potential of an artist working in and through regeneration and how can they work to give power to residents through this?
Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist working predominantly in the public realm, using moving image, text and installation to explore the complex relationship between people and place. She is interested in the role of the artist within urban regeneration and how experiential practice can touch upon and raise ambitions of existing and invisible communities. Recent commissions include Living Together, marking the centenary of the Becontree estate in Dagenham, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council; a RIBA exhibition on the same estate; and Artist in Residence for Thamesmead Stage 3 (Peabody). More details and register via Eventbrite.

May 18

Time to interrogate banal citizenism and consider a noncitizenist politics

Thursday, 18 May 2023, 16:00 – 17:00 BST


Speakers: Tendayi Bloom

There is often a presumption of citizenship in contemporary politics. That is, it is presumed that everyone has a functional citizenship, and that citizenship can explain all forms of politics. The word ‘citizen’ is often used to as a synonym for ‘person’ or even ‘good person’. This is a mistake. Alongside citizenship, there is also another form of relationship a person may have with a state and/or the multistate system: that of ‘noncitizenship’. A person is in a noncitizen relationship insofar as they must live or act politically despite those institutions. Noncitizenship is a substantive relationship. It is not the negation of citizenship. And a noncitizenist politics may be the only answer to some of today’s apparently intractable challenges. Indeed, the realities of some of these challenges may be invisible to those who live mostly as citizens. This will be considered particularly in the real-world context of migration governance. More details and register via Eventbrite.

May 25

In search of Kaaps: from slavery to linguistic citizenship futures

Thursday 25 May 2023, 16:00 – 17:00 BST


Speakers: Quentin Williams

Kaaps is a latter-day language influenced by Khoe and San languages, creole Portuguese, Bazaar Malay, Kaaps-Dutch, Arabic and English. Its creole origins begin in the 1700s at the Cape Colony where travellers would hear the language of the enslaved informally used in the kitchen, on the streets, on farms and religious gatherings, and would often describe them as uttering ‘peculiar noises’ (Shell, 1994). In this talk, Quentin argues that the slave, creole biography of Kaaps involved the transformation of peculiar noises into a coherent description of its linguistic system that today require our attention in order to chart the linguistic citizenship futures of the speakers. More details and register via Eventbrite.