Public Sociology Events (CANCELLED)
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Unfortunately, planned University events (including social gatherings) have been cancelled with immediate effect until 31 May 2020. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Members of the public and staff and students from across the University are invited to come and join us for a series of conversations, to share and brew ideas, to discuss social, cultural, and political issues in an informal manner across disciplines.

The Sociology Public Talks are an open ‘exchange space’ for everyone and this spring, Sociology@Plymouth will welcome new, fascinating guest speakers. Invited guest speakers represent a range of disciplinary backgrounds, and are from across the University and other institutions. We search for connections and open dialogue in the inter- and transdisciplinary ethos.

Wednesday 19 February: ‘The Critique of Progress’ - Professor Rob Mears, Bath Spa University

In his 2018 book 'Enlightenment Now', Steven Pinker writes, ‘Intellectuals hate progress. Intellectuals who call themselves “progressive” really hate progress’ (39). In this seminar I am interested in exploring the extent to which this charge is justified and, if so, what might account for the deep suspicion in our discipline (and others) of anything that might be deemed ‘progress’. In particular I want to look at how sociology attempts to make sense of violence, both at the inter-state and inter-personal levels. The classic ‘civilisation thesis’ associated with Norbert Elias is central to linking the developing western state systems to a reduction in inter-personal violence. Pinker (following Elias) offers robust evidence of growing thresholds of repugnance towards violence associated with modernity. On the other hand, critics have questioned the tensions between an apparent decline in inter-personal violence with greater threats of violence at State level. The paper concludes with a restatement of the ‘civilising process’ thesis and its main critics.

Thursday 26 March: Dr Rutvica Andrijasevic, University of Bristol

Rutvica's area of expertise is labour migration and her interest is in how cross-border mobility came to occupy a vital place in political struggle over citizenship and labour market access. She is the author of Agency, Migration and Citizenship in Sex Trafficking (Palgrave, 2010) a research monograph that explores the informal recruitment and work practices such as those in human trafficking and interrogates the link between migration, gendered organisation of the labour markets and citizenship. She is the co-editor of the volume Flexible workforces and low profit margins: electronics assembly between Europe and China (ETUI, 2016) and of several special issues such as 'Foreign Workers: On the Other Side of Sexual, Gendered, Political and Ethical Borders' with Organization (2019); 'Digital Labour' with Feminist Review (2019).

Wednesday 13 May: ‘Comparative Colonialisms for Queer Analysis’ - Dr Matthew Waites, University of Glasgow

Colonialisms are of critical importance for global queer politics. This presentation will outline a new transnational research agenda for comparative analysis of colonialisms in historical sociology with respect to regulation of same-sex sexualities and gender diversity, then proceed to discuss implications of the emerging findings for the present. I will first present a systematic comparison between British colonialism in Kenya and Portuguese colonialism in Mozambique, identifying different forms of legal regulation, and of wider social regulation. This comparison draws on new archival sources including colonial reviews of customary law that represent voices of colonised peoples, and crime statistics on sex offences from the ‘blue books’ through which colonies were required to report annually – revealing aspects of the race/sexuality/gender nexus. Decolonising approaches are essential to analysis, yet seem insufficient, and global historical sociology can also help to grasp some of the complexities. After demonstrating significant differences in the periodisation and forms of regulation between British and Portuguese empires, I will move forward by discussing the legacies for contemporary colonialities in these contexts and by focusing on implications for contemporary transnational LGBTI politics.

Details about further talks will be added to this page when available. Please note that dates may change so check this page regularly. 

No booking is required - just pop in! Wine, soft drinks and nibbles are available to help the conversations flow. We look forward to seeing you!

Any questions? Please contact for further information.

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