Category Archives: politics

Plan C: Institute for Precarious Consciousness – ‘we are all very anxious’

I don’t think the state of things is readily reducible to bite-sized explanation-metaphors, nor that whole eras of the capitalist mode of production (this is of course not just a metaphor) should be understood under sweepingly simple code-words, but, unfolding better explanations by deploying such code-words as efforts to get us to think differently and in detail is of great use. And the corresponding tactical 1,2,3-step is also helpful, even if ’tis not the whole struggle – so having Plan C post this is very welcome, even for those times when I am neither miserable, bored, nor anxious (‘he’s behind you’ – the pantomime reflex).

Not anxious, but I am amazed, often variously amazed – even at the idea of posting this:

“Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms of intensity, self-expression, emotional connection, immediacy, and enjoyment are now laced with anxiety. It has become the linchpin of subordination.”

This public secret scales up into another Pantomime Terror. It starts with the kids, subjected to such performances, relentlessly – ‘it will be fun, you’ll see’. Then school, and eventually you get asked to love your work. Meanwhile:

‘public space is bureaucratised and privatised, and a widening range of human activity is criminalised on the grounds of risk, security, nuisance, quality of life, or anti-social behaviour’.

As they say on FB: read this, you’ll be amazed what happens next:

http://www.weareplanc.org/we-are-all-very-anxious/#.U0EqzWmDQ0j

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Previously on Plan C: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/category/plan-c/

Pantomime Terror – pre-order

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 11.22.40Click here to preorder: http://www.zero-books.net/books/pantomime-terror

 

Capital lectures in Spring term at Goldsmiths starting January 14

Marx Capital lecture course at Goldsmiths ✪

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Lecture course on Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome

Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 14, 2014 – 5pm-8pm Goldsmiths Room RHB 309. Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award) – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too).

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
90 minute lectures, 60 minutes discussion
The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.
********** The weekly course reading guide is here: Cap and cult studs outline013 *************

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 14th January 2014 between 5 and 8pm and will run for 11 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (Room 309), Goldsmiths College. You are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers/Progress Press of German editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. We are reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

Note: The Centre for Cultual Studies at Goldsmiths took a decision to make as many as possible of its lecture series open to the public without fee. Seminars, essays, library access etc remain for sale. Still, here is a chance to explore cultural studies without getting into debt. The classes are MA level, mostly in the day – though in spring the Capital course is early tuesday evening. We usually run 10 week courses. Reading required will be announced in class, but preliminary reading suggestions can also be found by following the links. RHB means main building of Goldsmiths – Richard Hoggart Building. More info on other free events from CCS here: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/what-is-to-be-done/

Bonfire night got a whole lot more interesting

bonfire of Austerity | 5 November 2013

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5th November) The Peoples’ Assembly is calling for a day of protest in every town and city in the country. The South East London People’s Assembly are hosting a ‘Bonfire of Cuts’ in Lewisham:

Bonfire of Cuts – 6pm @ Grassy Knoll opp. Lewisham DLR
-Bring effigies of politicians, bankers or the 1% to burn. Will be music, speakers and fire.

Procession against austerity, the bedroom tax and local
cuts – 4.30pm @ Catford Town Hall
-Bring placards or effigies for the route which will pass Lewisham Hospital, still under threat, and other key local places affected by the cuts on our way to the Bonfire.

Performance about austerity politics – 1.30pm @ Deptford Lounge Public Square

Action against poverty – 10am @ Deptford High Street/New Cross Road
-Led by the local food bank

Come to one or all of these acts of civil disobedience against austerity organised by the South East London People’s Assembly. All of them will be family friendly, and welcome participation from everyone.

UCU strike at Goldsmiths includes public teach out at Library picket.

Strike 31.10.2013

9.30am ‘Banking on Food Poverty’, Tom Henri (STACS)

9.50am ‘Pantomime of Terror’, John Hutnyk (CCS)

10.10am ‘What is education for?’ John Wadsworth, Clare Kelly and Maggie Pitfield (Education)

10.30am ‘The internet, security and London Crypto Festival’, Matt Fuller (CCS)

10.50am ‘Digital capitalism and activism’, Veronica Barassi (Media & Comms)

11.10am ‘The militant image’, Ros Gray (Visual Cultures)

11.30am ‘Exclusion and higher education’, Claudia Bernard (STACS)

11.30am ‘Where now for Occupy?’ David Graeber (ex-Anthropology)

11.50am ‘Pedagogy/Practice/Protest’, Irit Rogoff (Visual Cultures)

 

http://www.goldsmithsucu.org/

Brand Over Pax

Is it only my dysfunctional take on things that makes me see this as the ‘dream-work’ of the war on terror?

‘do you think that’s really bad?’

‘you’re just having a go at me coz I’m not poor anymore’

 

hybridity-talk

A paragraph or two… i dunno how useful… on hybridity-talk… [possible reprint of Debating Cultural Hybridity 1997 in the works]:
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There was a time when ‘hybridity-talk’ seemed shiny and new. It is still important to question this of course, but the shifts that were already underway in 1997 have made the critique all the more pertinent. Today we are living in an age of unparalleled fluid and all-pervasive war. A cultural project that runs alongside the military project has infected everyday life, breeding anxiety and paralysis together. A cocktail that circulates culturally coded fears, hardly hidden, and weaponised streets always present. On the one hand bombing campaigns, assassinations, drone strikes, rendition, detention, deportation, police violence, deaths in custody, on the other hand a discursive deployment of sociologists, musicologists, anthropologists, educators, social workers, designers, media pundits and lifestyle gurus. A military-cultural mash-up – we can not see these fields as separate. The railway station announcement warns you to check your baggage, the television soothes with Thelonious-era jazz as the soundtrack to a spy drama called Homeland. Comedy cartoons cause fracas, insults fly, Rushdie delivers another doorstop of a book to shore up the facade of crisis-ridden Capital. Syria stews in an orgy of death already rehearsed in Libya by NATO when the Arab Spring became the Arab Sting. In Britain the Conservative Party invites immigrants to go home and offers hollow talk of ‘us’ being all in it together. The English Defence League looks towards the electorate, the UK Border authority sweeps the streets in dragnet formation.

OK OK, we were only talking culture here, but there was always that backdrop of murder and death – and culture and killing are connected even if the words we have to describe what is going on seem to have lost their analytic purchase. What shifted critical thinking? It was never Islam versus the West, but bombing, militarism, exploitation and its excuses and alibis versus a critique of these things. We wanted to rethink hybridity critically, and it still seems so necessary, even if the stakes are higher, and mere talk is never enough.
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My chapter from DBH 1997 was updated as the first chapter of Critique of Exotica 2000

Red Ant Dream 2:30 27.9.2013

Dear all

i would like to invite to the screening of Sanjay Kak’s new film “Red Ant Dream”
followed by a discussion with the filmmaker.

When: Friday 27th, 2.30pm
Where: NAB, LG01

https://www.facebook.com/events/413288558775627/

Please spread this information amongst your students.
Maybe this is just the right event at the end of a very busy induction week.

More information on the film can be found here:
Red Ant Dream – Teaser 2
Red Ant Dream – Forest Walk

http://www.redantdream.com

https://www.facebook.com/redantdreamdocumentary

Many thanks and all best wishes ! Nicole

Pirate Party. Posters as good as their chances.

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Black Star

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Am more than half way through this… Again. Get this book. Believe the endorsement on the back!

http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/black-star-anandi-ramamurthy/

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Get it via the link here

BLACK STAR – Anandi Ramamurthy

Get this book! My endorsement is truncated on the publishers web page, but I endorse this as absolutely necessary, absolutely needed. A must have to comprehend what needs to be done in these times, renew, learn from the past, reconfigure and invent…

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‘Black Star’s richly illustrated documentation of the political
struggles of the Asian Youth Movements proposes a national heritage
that would be something more than bland old Blighty (Vilayet). The
book’s archive speaks eloquently of a pressing Black politics, and
Anandi Ramamurthy cares for the lessons of anti-racist
anti-imperialist organising. The impasse of twenty-first century
war-on-terror murder-death-kill paranoid keep-calm-and-carry-on
proto-fascist anxiety is skewered by the sharp posters, the
enthusiasm, the dedication, the long vigils, and the styles and
phrasings of all those left-wing uncles and radical aunts who hoarded
boxes of leaflets and pamphlets in back rooms and in attics so they
could one day be retrieved as testimony to a difficult settlement in
multi-racial Britain. That this book retrieves this history as a
living, and urgent, heritage – with the principle of ‘self defense as
no offense’ still prominent – is a absolutely necessary triumph’ – John Hutnyk.

From Sydney Uni (as reported in the CPA paper)

Issue #1609      September 4, 2013

University of Sydney strike.

Staff at the University of Sydney took the extraordinary measure of striking last Saturday on the university’s Open Day. It’s the 7th day of strike action since March over stalled collective agreement negotiations.

University staff gathered at the main gates on campus to explain to prospective students – and their families – the reasons for their collective bargaining campaign and how deteriorating staff working conditions will affect the quality of education and the conditions of learning.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch president Michael Thomson said it was a serious issue but the union action at Open Day was also fun and informative, with barbeques, balloons, and music laid on.

“We’re reclaiming Open Day and the University of Sydney from the marketeers and spin doctors.”

Staff were on the main gates from 8am and leafleted at public transport hubs during the morning. Thomson said that management’s current pay offer to staff was a real wage cut of 0.5 percent a year.

“The paltry pay offer is part of a concerted effort by Vice Chancellors across the country to force down the wages of staff in the higher education sector, even as they ask us to work harder for longer,” he said.

“At Sydney, student load increased by more than 5 percent in 2012 alone, yet staff numbers have remained unchanged. Management simply expects us to meet increased demand through increases in our workload and work intensification.

“Management’s claim that anything more than their offer is unaffordable is an attempt to suggest staff are being greedy. However, our pay claim aligns closely with community standards and expectations.

“Figures released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations show national system public sector employees received average enterprise agreement wage increases of 3.9% a year in the March quarter 2013. Across the whole national system, wages in enterprise agreements increased 3.7%.

“We deserve a fair pay rise that recognises both our hard work and broader community wage outcomes. The University of Sydney is a wealthy institution and can afford it.”

Next article – Life under an Abbott government

Back to index page

Common House (new activist communist organising space) opening party 20.7.2013

TheCommonHouse_Flyer

MA Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy in the Centre for Cultural Studies at #Goldsmiths

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Marx Trot 2013 – July 7

karl-marx-grave-highgate

All welcome. A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on July 7. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southhampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace HouseBYO libations for the first part.

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Last year’s trot = http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/

(and links to previous) here: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

Dancing the first international! http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.co.uk/2009_10_01_archive.html

A pub crawl with Karl http://www.mytimemachine.co.uk/pubcrawl.htm

Pantomime Nationalist distractions and puppet-targeting

Notes on the coming disturbance…

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ANTI-WAR RETROSPECTIVE OF THE LAST DECADE – 15.3.13 Goldsmiths

Ten years since the invasion of Iraq, what is the state of the anti-war movement?

TriContinental Anti-Imperialist Platform

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TriContinental Anti-Imperialist Platform is a newly set up organisation that seeks to champion the causes of the peoples of the GlobalSouth through GlobalSouth Diaspora leadership for people-centred progress and the central challenges to the GlobalSouth which remains western military and cultural hegemony. On the panel at this event will be spokepersons of some of the countries and people impacted by imperialist wars. We will be reflecting on the failures, successes of the anti-war movement of the last decade, and the continuing challenges of the anti-war movement, especially in the light of the collapse of the anti-war movement especially in relation to the nato war on Libya, now Syria, Mali, Algeria and open imperialist war strategies of in relation to China, Russia (“pivot to Asia”) and other sections of the Global South which what passes as the anti-war movement in england fails utterly to address.

Location: 137a, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Cost: free
Website: www.facebook.com/events/212155682257314/
Department: Centre For Cultural Studies
Time: 15 March 2013, 18:30 – 21:30

stream will be here at 6:30: http://www.gold.ac.uk/live-stream/high/

MA in Critical Asian Studies from Sept 2013 @goldsmiths #culturalstudies #politics #asianstudies

Home > Prospectus > Postgraduate > Programmes > Cultural Studies > MA in Critical Asian Studies

Combining critical theoretical perspectives with an in-depth regional focus, this unique programme provides you with the tools to make sense of the ascendance of Asia and its impact on contemporary culture and geopolitics.

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The MA in Critical Asian Studies will equip you with a critical knowledge and understanding of the cultures and politics of contemporary Asia, focussing in particular on India, China and Japan.

This innovative interdisciplinary programme is taught between both theCentre for Cultural Studies and the Department of Politics, drawing on the considerable expertise of both.

You will be taught by renowned academics. Teaching on China is led by Professors Wang Hui, Scott Lash, and Michael Dutton, while Indian material is covered by Professors Sanjay SethJohn Hutnyk, and Dr Bhaskar MukhopadhyayDr Rajyashree Pandey provides expertise on Japan.

Core courses will introduce you to the most advanced theorists of politics and cultural studies, and to the most up to date issues facing contemporary Asia. For instance, how are the present political economies of China, India and Japan linked to traditional Confucian and Daoist, and in some cases Buddhist and Hindu, philosophies? Must the idea of India, for example, be understood as a product of colonial and capitalist subsumption, or is a global outlook now co-terminus, even constitutive, of the present national imaginary? In China, is the re-emergence of neo-Confucianism indicative of a challenge to Western-style liberal values? And how does Japan complicate this narrative as both coloniser and colonised?

We teach you to reflect critically on the validity of Western history-making and its distinctiveness in actuality from fiction. Can fiction and other forms of material culture equally become a means to tell a much broader story about Asia, as in the case of Manga/Anime in Japan and mud statues in China?

We consider the role of social and political movements, from the struggle for Independence in India to street protests and festivals across all of Asia. At the end of the course, we ask you to write a dissertation that consolidates what you have learnt and which prepares you for further study or engagement in the politics and cultures of contemporary Asia.

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What you study

You will take core courses in Critical Asian Thought and Politics and Culture in Asia, and a Dissertation. You can also tailor your degree to your own individual interests, by selecting additional papers from a range of options from across different departments that complement the programme’s focus.

In terms of practical skills, the MA is unique in offering students the opportunity to study Mandarin in co-operation with Goldsmiths’ newly established Confucius Institute. These courses will provide a platform for those interested in learning Mandarin as a new language, or those already advanced in the language who wish to further improve their skills. Classes will follow a syllabus that has been approved by the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban for short), and provide students with a HSK-equivalent qualification useful in many Asian countries (the HSK qualification itself is not a part of the course, but the test may be taken separately).

These courses will increase students’ employability in Asia, as well as provide them with the means to carry out PhD research on topics that require experience in Mandarin.

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Courses

Critical Asian Thought

This core course provides theoretical grounding for the degree programme as a whole. We cover a range of key texts in cultural and critical theory, while seeking to re-evaluate their significance for the contemporary world in the light of Asian philosophies, histories and modernities.

Are liberalism and neo-liberalism specifically Western problematics? Can we locate an ‘alternative modernity’ in the emergence of early market economies in 11th- and 12th-century China and India or during the later colonial expansion of the East India Company? What is the nature of the political in Japan, China and India? Is sovereignty in Asia an issue of statehood, or alternatively of nation, of empire, or of Hindu or Confucian civilisation? What conceptions of art and culture, of revolution and violence would do justice to these sites? In exploring these questions and others, we seek to reframe our understanding of global politics, art and culture.

Politics and Culture in Asia

From the macro-scale to the everyday, this core course explores some of the key transformations in religion and cosmology, politics and economics that define the landscape of contemporary Asia.

In these seminars and lectures, you will encounter cutting edge research into specific issues from Japan, China and India, learning to identify the politics inherent in cultural forms. Outside of conventional politics, we find anxieties about nuclear disaster and utopian fantasies surfacing in Japanese anime and manga. We examine how Chinese Kongfu movies reify and ‘modernise’ ancient traditions such as that of ‘rivers and lakes’ (Jianghu yiqi), how the idea of ‘flow’ (liu) is set against a Confucian tradition of ‘wen’, meaning stability, and how in this worlding the traditional built environment was never ‘utilitarian’ in the Western sense but mapped onto this world of sacred and symbolic understandings. How, too, do we account for the extraordinary popularity of religious festivals like the Ganpati festival in Pune, India – a burgeoning economic powerhouse? Challenging preconceptions about modernity and secularism, the centrality of sacred is here given careful attention, as we aim to understand how other modes of conceptualising gods, spirits and being, continue in critical ways to inflect the form modernity takes in the present.

Dissertation

The degree culminates in the dissertation, researched and written over the summer. This is an opportunity for you to undertake your own research project on a topic of significance to study in the field of contemporary Asia, drawing on the knowledge, understanding and skills developed through the rest of the programme.

Intellectual support, advice on sources and planning, as well as general methodological assistance are provided under the guidance of a dedicated supervisor allocated from either CCS or the Department of Politics.

Option courses

Aside from the core structure of the programme, you are given a variety of other ways to further immerse yourself in the subject of contemporary Asia.

In addition to the two core courses that provide the foundation of the course as a whole, you may tailor your degree to your own individual interests, by selecting additional papers from a range of options from across different departments that complement the programme’s focus.

For instance, you may choose to study Contemporary Asian FilmPolitics and DifferenceGlobal Cultural TheoryPostcolonial Theory and Fiction, or modules relating to the field of Urban Studies. Some of these courses will be there to extend the groundwork of the course, while others will be more specially oriented toward advanced study in a particular substantive area or topic.

In terms of practical skills, the MA is unique in offering our students the opportunity to study Mandarin in co-operation with Goldsmiths’ newly established Confucius Institute. These courses will provide a platform for those interested in learning Mandarin as a new language, or those already advanced in the language who wish to further improve their skills. Classes will follow a syllabus that has been approved by the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban for short), and provide students with a HSK-equivalent qualification useful in many Asian countries (the HSK qualification itself is not a part of the course, but the test may be taken separately).

These courses will increase your employability in Asia, as well as provide you with the means to carry out PhD research on topics that require experience in Mandarin.

You take two standard-length option papers, or two half-length and one standard-length option paper, in addition to the core course content. At least one option paper must be selected from the following. The remainder can be chosen from the wide range available from Goldsmiths departments and centres.

Contemporary Asian Film

This module introduces films drawn from one or more of the regional film traditions within Asia in the last 60 years – for example Bengali New Wave, Chinese Fifth Generation, Japanese films of Kon, Ichikawa, etc. Each year a regional tradition or director will be chosen by the course leader (Professor Hutnyk) for in-depth study. Ten films, or combinations of shorts and documentaries of suitable length, will be introduced, screened and discussed in terms of content, context and significance. The course is taught through film screenings and seminar discussions, and a premium is placed upon critical film theory and cultural theory contextualisation.

Contemporary Asia: Debates (NB not available 2013-14)

This course teaches you how to combine high-level critical contemporary theory with practical knowledge and understanding of Asia. The course is taught by several members of CCS and Politics, with significant additional input and teaching contributions from visiting professor, Wang Hui.

The module will further the programme’s explicit aim to train graduates who are able to interpret and translate the rapid changes currently sweeping across Asia, and adapt to and even influence these changes through highly developed powers of intellectual engagement in current debates surrounding contemporary Asian culture and politics. For example, we raise the question of whether we should reimagine China as something like what Wang Hui has recently coined the ‘civilisation-state’, a conceptual configuration which recognises China’s diverse regional and ethnic complexities. Through this conceptual prism, we assert a politics of imagining Asia that takes into account not just interregional relationships, but international relations between India, China, Japan, as well as the configuration of Europe and other parts of the Western hemisphere.

Mandarin Level 1 

This course provides practical experience of Mandarin at beginner level. The course is designed to improve your cross-cultural competency and advance proficiency in a language through coursework, exams and intensive linguistic training in small classes with others at the Confucius Institute.

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Length:
1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
Applying:Applications for 2013 will open shortly.

Applicants are encouraged to submit by 31 May, though applications after this date may still be considered. If you’re applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline. For example, the deadline for applicants applying for AHRC funding is 1 March.

Find out more about applying

Entrance requirements:
Degree of at least UK upper second class (or equivalent) in a related subject. If your first language is not English, you normally need a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (including 7.0 in the written element) or equivalent. Find out more about our English Language requirements.

Funding:
UK/EU students may be eligible for AHRC funding. Applications must be received by 1 March. Contact Lisa Rabanal, l.rabanal@gold.ac.uk, for further information.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

Careers:
The MA provides a sound basis for international careers in areas including, but not limited to: journalism, media, translation, publishing, the Civil Service and voluntary sector, local government, NGOs, teaching and research, and the commercial world (for example semiotic analysis and brand development consultancy firms, and companies that would benefit from bi-lingual or multi-lingual employees).
Skills:
Special expertise and knowledge of Asia; critical and analytical skills; language proficiency; ability to synthesise insights from a range of disciplinary perspectives; detailed and sensitive grasp of key issues in contemporary media, politics, economy, culture and religion.
Fees:
Please see Tuition fees.
Staff research interests:
Please see Staff research interests.
Contact the departments:
Contact Lisa Rabanal
About the departments:
Centre for Cultural StudiesPolitics Find out more about:

Harry Harootunian 13.2.13

To celebrate the launch of two new Asian-centric programmes in Goldsmiths —the MA Critical Asian Studies and the Bachelor of Arts, International Studies and Chinese—the Goldsmiths Politics Department and the Centre for Cultural Studies present:

Harry Harootunian

“Provincializing Marxism”

13 Feb 2013 4.30 RHB Cinema Goldsmiths

 Harry Harootunian’s trenchant critique of area studies helped established him long ago as the doyen of new Critical Asian Studies approach. This new approach offered a more theoretically informed and reflexive conceptualization  of questions relating to non-Western social and knowledge formations. Critical Asian Studies has, in crucial respects, changed the face of American area studies and through his detailed and erudite studies of Japanese history and probing theoretical analysis, Harootunian has set new standards for scholarship, not just in Japanese studies, but for Asian Studies more generally.

Eighteenth Brumaire Leaders: #Cameron #Johnson #Afriyie #Gove # Norman et al

On Friday, February 1, 2013, 이승환 wrote:

Dear John Hutnyk

My name is Seunghwan Lee and I am from “Hankyoreh 21,” a weekly magazine with the largest number of subscribers in South Korea.

As a South Korean journalist based in London, I am working on an article about a possible successor to the current Prime Minister. I am writing to ask for your help to assist in one of my projects that I am undertaking at the moment.

There are four people who are likely to the next Conservative leader. Adam Afriyie is probably one of them, Jesse Norman, Boris Johnson or Michael Gove. We will see repeated stories about these people over the next two years. These people will be supportive of David Cameron, or set up to stand against him.

I believe that introducing this issue would help our subscribers in South Korea to understand what is the right-wing’s role in the UK as there has been debate over what is a “true right-wing” in South Korea. As you may know, mainstream South Korean politics has shifted to the right with the election last December of Park Geun-hye, the candidate of the far-right New Frontier Party (NFP), as president.

As you are a well-known expert on politics, sharing your insights on this issue will be a tremendous help for us. I would like to ask you five questions regarding a possible successor to the Prime Minister.

Questions:

1) What is your opinion of David Cameron’s leadership? Do you think he will succeed in delivering a majority at the 2015 general election if he continues to drive his policies such as welfare cuts, a closed door immigration policy, and an in/out referendum on EU membership?

Cameron is the representative of the ruling class. Similar to the way Karl Marx wrote in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Boneparte, Cameron is also an example of a mediocre figure, thrown up by the circumstance of history, who repeatedly offers farce where political vision is needed. That Britain has had a succession of such shallow ‘leaders’ is indicative of a stagnant and rotten system. You noticed that there has been over ten years of war, under Labour and Con-Dem, and that the individual leader of the war economy is fit only to travel the world promoting arms deals. The present prime minister is no different in this respect than the previous two from Labour. That said, Cameron will not win the next election because the cuts are biting, our local hospital was cut back yesterday, the benefits system is being dismantled, anti-Muslim racism is on the rise – and Cameron is looking for yet another war, this time in Northern Africa, with the hope that a Thatcherite moment like the Falklands can be repeated, to save him, as farce. Unfortunately, the Labour Party is only staying quiet, hoping to step into power when Cameron fails. Sadly, they also have no vision, and little real support. The Lib Dems of course are toxified by their association with the poison of the ruling class collaboration that is the coalition.

2) Mainstream politics in the UK has shifted to the right with the election in 2010 of the Conservative Party (albeit in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats). If Cameron fails to deliver a majority at the 2015 general election, how can the next leader of the Conservative party drive the party forwards?

The path to this shift was prepared by Thatcher and implemented by Blair. The longer perspective would see that since the 1970s a sustained move to the right of the right has been underway. This seems calibrated with the deeper crises of capital, the oil crisis of the mid to late 70s, the recession and bubble of the 1980s, the collapse of communism in Europe at the end of the 80s and early 90s. Europe’s reconstruction involved a right wards drift as capital panicked, and fled to the temporary profits of cheap labour in Asia. Now Euro-American capital panics again as China and India see its bourgeoisie on an economic rise – the rightwards politics of Labour and Conservative in Britain is just another example of this short term panic thinking, the immigration restrictions included in this. Political party politics has little reference to the aspirations of the general population, except through attempts at ideological spin and jingoistic manipulation. In fact Labour was slightly better at spin, but no-one ever believes them these days. The August 2011 riots in Britain were the expression, if muffled, of a necessary call for regime change – and the Olympics the following August was capital’s answer – armed military on the streets and a nationalist propaganda effort – go for gold! – unparalleled since the blitz.

3) Adam Afriyie has emerged in reports as a surprise contender to be the next party leader if Cameron fails to deliver a majority at the 2015 general election. In terms of leadership, what are the main difference between Cameron and Afriyie?

Tweedledum and tweedledanger. It does not matter which leader the party of the ruling class puts forward, labour, lib dem or con, without an organised opposition we will continue to bump along the bottom of a deeply unfair and exploitative mode of moribund capitalism that only brings misery and global war. Weapons sales and the production of fear go hand in hand. To maintain a defence budget you must create a fictional monster or enemy that looks almost the same as you, but must be treated with a poisonous suspicion. The population sits passively on the tube in low-level anxiety or watches with a mix of resignation and fear as the news reports the war at home, while ‘at the front’ our military recruits drill ever more costly weapons systems, to the delight of the arms industry.

4) Boris Johnson has perhaps the most fascinating relationship with British politics. He often seems to be set to stand against the PM.

Tweedledum and tweedledum’s more media savvy brother. No significant difference, both former members of a wild ruling class drinking club – the Bullington. Both representative of the interests of industry and media barons, both ready to say anything to justify their continued puppet rule.

In terms of politics, what are the main differences between Cameron and Johnson?

See above. Johnson saw an opportunity to pretend to be different on immigration, but read him carefully and see he too is the cod-multicultural version of big business.

4) Of the four previously mentioned, who is the best candidate to lead the Conservative party if Cameron fails to deliver a majority at the 2015 general election?

Does anyone in the public actually care? What evidence do we have (hilariously low voter turnout etc)? The pit of political intrigue that is a leadership ‘contest’ is only an illusion of debate – see the Labour party version two years ago for similar – none of this matters much except for a small coterie of radio four, posh bistro going, luvvies. The disconnect between these so-called leaders and the population of Britain is vast.

5) What is the qualification required for a party leader? What leadership is required to win the general election?

Only a sustained revolt can shift things from the current impasse. That revolt might lead us to a period of disturbance important enough to bring forward ideas about care for our communities, radical grass-roots democratic decision-making (not the farce of so-called electoral politics, once every five years), dismantling of the war economy and the militarized police, and  for a radically new arrangement of how we live. We could work towards a world where we share the productive resources of humanity equitably amongst all, everywhere. The capability of people with immense knowledge and technology (not weapons) could be utilised to ensure no-one anywhere goes hungry, dies from curable disease, or remains thirsty, without shelter, clothes… and a really progressive arts channel on tv for all. You get what I am talking about here? The crisis has been bad enough, the planetary mood is for radical change, the possibilities are endless. And it is Cameron’s class leadership about which you ask. No, the point is to forget the general election, and General Motors, and work instead for the general population, for the general strike, and for the general uprising, in general.

Red Salute

John

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