Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Undergraduate students host lively Critical Theory conference

07 June 2011 |

Undergraduate students host lively Critical Theory conference

Third year students on the Critical Theory module have hosted their very own mini-conference as part of the Student Led Discussion Network (SLED) to mark the end of their course.

Having established a close working relationship over the semester through SLED sessions, this group of budding critical theorists chose a very contemporary and thought-provoking theme for their conference that provoked vigorous and intense debate: interventionism and critical theory.

The day began with two key-note speakers addressing the issue of ‘The Intervention in Libya and Critical Theory.’ Dr Naomi Head of the University of Glasgow (and a PhD graduate of POLIS) got proceedings off to a great start with a critical discussion of the procedures that led to the UN’s decision to back the Libyan intervention from a perspective informed by communicative ethics and the work of Jurgen Habermas.

Prof. Ray Bush of POLIS then gave the audience a stimulating and provocative talk that situated the Libyan intervention in the wider context of the ‘Arab Spring,’ approaching it from a critical perspective on the pursuit of Western economic and strategic interests in the region.

In the afternoon the critical theory students themselves took full control of the event, presenting their own work in two panels to an audience of students and staff.  Jessica Martin, Alex Smethurst and Levon Ouzounian provided energetic defences of the work of Jurgen Habermas in a panel entitled ‘Defending Habermas’ chaired by Jonathan Wharam.

Christopher Leslie, Rosalee Dorfman and Joanna Lane then reconnected with the main theme of the conference in the last panel (Interventionism and Radical Politics) by tackling the theme of interventionism from postmodern approaches informed by the work of Michel Foucault and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. 

Both student-led sessions provoked a lot of praise and lively debate among the audience that lasted well into the post-conference drinks reception.   So well done and thanks to all of the students and staff who played a part in making the critical theory mini-conference such a successful event this year!      

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