Current Students and Staff

// University News

30 Jun 2014

Staff: Register now for Citizenship seminar

The second Communication, Culture and Citizenship (CCC) Collaborative Seminar will take place at the University on 24 September 2014.

Communication, Culture and Citizenship is one of the University’s six Research Challenges.

The CCC Collaborative Seminar – which will take place in Brockington Building, room U.0.20, from 12noon-4.30pm – will focus on citizenship and will feature three distinguished keynote speakers.

Professor Lynn Staeheli (Durham University) will speak on ‘Genealogies and Geographies of Citizenship’.

Professor Staeheli will take both a genealogical and spatial approach to trace the ways in which citizenship is defined and located. Focusing on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lebanon and South Africa, she will explore the ways in which particular normative ideals are circulated by international efforts to promote democracy and reconciliation in post-conflict settings. Recognizing the ways in which citizenship is translated and performed, she will also consider the historical, linguistic and spatial contexts in which citizenship is produced.

Professor Stuart Allan (Cardiff University) will speak on ‘Revisioning citizenship: Public engagement in photo-reportage’.

In striving to investigate the ways in which ordinary people find themselves compelled to engage in first-person photo-reportage, Professor Allan will examine the participatory cultures of visual newsmaking. He will focus on two crisis events characterised as ‘terror attacks’ in the press: the bombing of the Boston marathon in April 2013, and the killing of a British soldier on a street in Woolwich, southeast London the following month. Drawing on a visual analysis of the impromptu photo-reportage of these attacks, he will elaborate the concept of ‘citizen witnessing’ as one possible way to reinvigorate photojournalism’s social contract to document conflicting truths. In meeting this challenge of innovation, he will argue that photojournalism will benefit by securing new opportunities to revision its digital publics in a manner at once more transparent and accountable, while at the same time encouraging an openly inclusive news culture committed to fostering dialogic relationships of civic engagement and connectivity.

Dr Imogen Tyler (Lancaster University) will speak on ‘The Neoliberal Refashioning of British Citizenship in Post-Welfare Britain’.

The opening ceremony of the London Paralympic Games (2012) saw thousands of performers and volunteers stage a spectacular commemoration of the historical achievements of disability rights movement in Britain. The highlight for many viewers was a raucous mash-up of Ian Dury's 1981 punk disability anthem ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ performed by the electronic dance duo Orbital and the Graeae Theatre Company. During this exhilarating routine dozens of disabled performers enacted an abstract montage of disability rights protests, holding up placards which spelled out ‘RIGHTS’, ‘Equality’, ‘Look Beyond Appearances’ and ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover’.

Many commentators hailed this opening ceremony, which attracted UK television audiences of 11 million, as a watershed moment in the history of disability rights in Britain that promised to challenge stigmatizing cultural perceptions and attitudes around disability. Yet, earlier in the day, hundreds of disability activists had taken to the streets to stage the first of a series of rather different protest performances to make manifest their rage that the Paralympics were being sponsored by ATOS, an Information Technology and Health multi-national then in receipt of a £100 million–a-year contract from the Government to undertake ‘Work Capability Assessments’ (WCAs) with those claiming or seeking disability-related welfare benefits.  Protests began on August 29th with the staging of a memorial service outside ATOS’s London Headquarters and continued with ‘die-in’ protests outside ATOS buildings across the UK, which sought to draw attention to the thousands of people who died after ATOS tests determined them capable of finding and undertaking paid employment.

These events are spectacular dramatizations of the paradoxes of the political present tense: That is, the seemingly irresolvable contradictions between rhetorical performances of inclusive citizenship, growing social and economic inequalities, the rise of consumer citizenship, and the penetration of ‘the state’ by global corporations. Dr Tyler will explore what kinds of 'sense' we can make of "British Citizenship," and its possible futures, under these conditions.

Please register for the event by 10 September by emailing Sandie Duddle.

The seminar event has been organised by the Cultural Communities, Cosmopolitanism and Citizenship (CulCom) Research Group in the Department of Social Sciences.

The third seminar in the series, focusing on Globalisation, will take place early next year.