Seminar Series

Department of Social Sciences Seminar Series 2019 – 2020

All seminars are held on Wednesday afternoons. Start times and rooms vary so please check each session. Queries can be addressed to the seminar programme co-ordinator, Paul Reynolds, on reynoldp@edgehill.ac.uk.

Seminars held earlier this year

Co-constructing Coherent Realities: A (Critical) Cognitive Linguistic Perspective

Terry McDonough – Lecturer, University Centre at Blackburn College
Wednesday 23rd January 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Terry McDonough

Terry McDonough – Lecturer, University Centre at Blackburn College

In this talk, I investigate the ways in which natural language contributes to the coherent co-construction of social reality. To do this, I draw from recent findings in the cognitive and brain sciences to mobilise a framework known as Embodied Construction Grammar (ECG) (Bergen & Chang, 2005; Feldman, 2018; Feldman, Dodge, & Bryant, 2015). Developed as part of the Neural Theory of Language (NTL) programme at UC Berkeley, ECG provides an empirical formalism designed to decompose linguistic constructions and parameterise the deep semantic architecture that underpins everyday linguistic interactions.

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When we engage in discourse, we simulate the things that we talk about using the same cognitive systems that compute our experience of everyday life (Bergen, 2015; Zwaan, 2016). Deep semantic architectures, however complex, are constrained by the principles of enactive embodiment: that we are a brain in a body in an environment (Chemero, 2009). By understanding the composition of these architectures, and the ways they might be simulated, we come closer to understanding how the human brain abstracts from experience to aid in the co-construction of social reality.

References

Bergen, B. (2015). Embodiment, simulation and meaning. In N. Riemer (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of semantics (pp. 142–157). New York, NY: Routledge.
Bergen, B., & Chang, N. (2005). Embodied construction grammar in simulation-based language understanding. In J.-O. Östman & M. Fried (Eds.), Construction grammars: cognitive grounding and theoretical extensions (pp. 147–190). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Chemero, A. (2009). Radical embodied cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Evans, V. (2014). The language myth: why language is not an instinct. Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Feldman, J. (2018). Advances in embodied construction grammar. Frames and Constructions (in Review).
Feldman, J., Dodge, E., & Bryant, J. (2015). Embodied construction grammar. In B. Heine & H. Narrog (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of linguistic analysis (2nd ed., pp. 111–138). Oxford; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Tomasello, M. (2008). Origins of human communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Zwaan, R. A. (2016). Situation models, mental simulations, and abstract concepts in discourse comprehension. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(4), 1028–1034.

Biography

Terry studied English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University. He later returned to Lancaster to work towards a Ph.D in linguistics under the supervision of Professor Chris Hart. Broadly aligned with UC Berkeley’s neural theory of language (NTL) programme, Terry’s research pursues integration between the cognitive and brain sciences and the social sciences. Central to this pursuit is the question of how the brain generates meaningful experiences in social contexts.

Starting as an Associate Lecturer in linguistics at Liverpool Hope University, Terry is currently a lecturer in linguistics at the University Centre at Blackburn College. He remains a member of the DisTex and LIP research groups at Lancaster and is a full member of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Association and the Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network. Terry is also Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of the critical pedagogy journal, PRISM, and co-author of the popular undergraduate textbook, English Language, Literature and Creative Writing: A Practical Guide for Students (Anthem Press).


Touch, Silence and Children? An Exploratory Analysis

Dr Lorraine Green and Dr Lisa Moran
Wednesday 6th February 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Dr Lorraine Green

Dr Lorraine Green

Dr Lisa Moran

Dr Lisa Moran

This seminar talk involves a tentative examination of the relationship between touch, silence and children, drawing on both the speakers’ and other empirical research and theory. Silence is under-researched area in most disciplines because it is often assumed it has little meaning or import. Touch is also the most disregarded of the five senses in terms of theory and research. Vision generally assumes sovereign primacy in the hierarchy of the senses, although there is more research and literature on touch than on silence, a topic which paradoxically seems to have produced its own silence. Children and childhood, in contrast, are highly prominent in in many disciplines although in the last three decades important epistemological shifts have led to reconceptualisations in how children are studied and represented, particularly within sociology.

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Initially silence as a form of communication or non-communication will be investigated, alongside the different reasons for and consequences of silence. Touch will then be defined and described and extant social science research and theorising on touch will be summarised together with exploring what forms of touch are linked to silence. What we understand about children in terms of psychological and sociological knowledge will then be reviewed. The final segment of the paper will deal with research or theorising that either deliberately or inadvertently exposes the intersection between touch, silence and children. Currently the most obvious research area that links touch, silence and children relates to child sexual abuse in terms of children’s silence. However, this analysis extends not only that area further by showing how relevant adults as well as child victims are often silenced by those who perpetrate child sexual abuse, but brings in many other situations where touch, children and silence are juxtaposed.


“Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed”

Dr Matt Lodder – Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, University of Essex
Wednesday 20th February 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Dr Matt Lodder

Dr Matt Lodder,
Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, University of Essex

In this talk, Dr Matt Lodder will discuss both the research content of his current exhibition “Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed” at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Cornwall, and the practical issues of creating a major exhibition of a marginalised art form, with material drawn primarily from disparate and uncatalogued private collections. Spanning 400 years from the middle decades of the 17th century to the present day, the exhibition includes 400 objects including photographs; drawings; paintings; prints; commissioned sculpture; tattoo tools (including rare early pieces from the Science Museum); rare books; two tattooing studios recreated from collected and re-sourced objects; and several pieces of preserved human skin. As the most intimate of all art forms, the show argues that tracing the history of tattooing becomes a proxy through which broader art and cultural histories of Britain can be read, and through which insights on class, gender, empire, anxiety, nationalism, politics, religion and more can be gleaned.”

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Dr Matt Lodder is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex. He teaches European, American and Japanese art, architecture, visual culture and theory from the late 19th century to the present, including modern and contemporary art post-1945, digital and “new media” art, and the intersections between art & politics. His research primarily concerns the application of art-historical methods to history of Western tattooing from the 17th century to the present day, with a principal focus on the professional era from the 1880s onwards. His expertise also extends to wider histories of body modification practices in the West, including tongue splitting, implants, and other procedures. He has also recently published work on feminist debates in pornography, and on the intersections of consent, culture and the law in the context of 1970s and ’80s queer subcultures.

His latest major exhibition, ‘British Tattoo Art Revealed’, began at the National Maritime Museum Falmouth in March 2017 and is currently on tour nationwide through 2020. Matt also serves as the presenter of the landmark television series “Art of Museums”, airing across Europe and beyond in late 2018 and early 2019.


Shaping Health Care in-between the Borders. Transnational Health Protection Practices among Ecuadorian Migrants in Italy

 Castellani, Simone – University Institute of Lisbon (CIES-IUL), Department of Social Sciences/North West Migration Working Group Joint Seminar
 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Technology Hub Boardroom
Monday 25th February 2019

Simone Castellani

Simone Castellani

Last years of economic recession in EU have accelerated the deterioration of Welfare State policies, especially in the countries of the “periphery” (King et al., 2014) as for instance Italy, which were affected most because of the austerity measures imposed by the so-called “Troika”.The health care sector has been one of the most struck ones by the cuts in public expenditure (EESC, 2013; Kentikelenis et al., 2015). The austerity politics have affected especially the most vulnerable social groups, among them migrants who are largely employed in unprotected jobs and rely in precarious citizenship status (Cohen, 2001). Nevertheless, as it was put into the spot by a flourishing literature, people who are engaged in international migration projects, both migrants and no migrants, struggle to shape their social protection besides the Nation-State (Faist, Bilecen, Barglowski, & Sienkiewicz, 2015) combining transnationally different resources at their disposal within their multilevel environment (Levitt, et al., 2016).

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Drawing on 20 in-depth interviews with Ecuadorian migrants who lives in Genoa (Italy) carried out within an international project on Global Social Protection, this paper will focus on how migrants combine different resources coming from their networks, the State, the Market, the NGOs, both in destination as in origin, for granting health care to themselves and to the members of their transnational domestic group. Paper shows, first, that legal status contributes highly to determine the transnational health protection practices both in terms of access to the national welfare systems as well as in terms of multi-sited displacements for receiving health care. Second, the combination between social and cultural capitals seems crucial in order to mobilize and combine different transnational health care resources. Finally, paper highlight as the circulation of drugs, healing remedies and health advice are an essential transnational social protection practice, both in material and symbolic terms.

Biography

Simone Castellani is postdoctoral research fellow at the University Institute of Lisbon (CIES-IUL) carrying out a project on the new Portuguese migrations toward Germany. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology (University of Seville, Spain) and in Migration and Intercultural Processes (University of Genoa, Italy). He was guest lecture at the University of Bielefeld and visiting fellow and at the INAH (Mexico), CONICET (Argentina), University of Santa Caterina (Brazil), University of Bielefeld and University of Freiburg (Germany), Wellesley College (US), FLACSO-Ecuador and University of Sussex (UK). His topics of research are related with the international migratory processes. Specifically, he has studied the Latino American migration flows toward Europe, paying particular attention to the so-called second generation, and the new Southern European migration flows toward Germany during the last economic recession. In the recent past he integrated the UPWEB-NORFACE project team which focuses on the practices of welfare bricolage in contexts marked by high super-diversity. Further, he collaborated with the Global Social Protection project, leaded by the Transnational Studies Initiative at the University of Harvard, which investigate transnational social protection focusing on the access to the health care of Ecuadorian migrants in US, Italy, Spain and Ecuador. Last publications: with Martín Diaz (2019) “Re-writing the domestic role. Transnational migrants’ households between informal and formal social protection in Ecuador and in Spain” in Comparative Migration Studies (January). (2018); “Sliding down. New Spanish and Italian migrants’ labour insertion” in Sociologia del lavoro. 149, 77-93; with Lagomarsino (2016) “The unseen protagonists. Ecuadorians’ daughters between Ecuador and Southern Europe”, Social Identities, 22(3), 291-306;

Ireland: Climate action ‘laggard’ or ‘failure’?

Dr Amanda Slevin – Lecturer in Social Policy, Queen’s University Belfast
Wednesday 6th March 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Dr Amanda Slevin

Dr Amanda Slevin – Lecturer in Social Policy, Queen’s University Belfast

We live in a rapidly changing world in which interactions between social, economic, environmental and political forces produce complex societal challenges and far-reaching consequences, notably anthropogenic climate change. Focusing on Ireland, this paper identifies socio-economic and political ecological tensions manifest in Irish state responses to climate breakdown.

Ireland, like most countries, is heavily dependent on fossil fuels to provide energy central to society’s functioning, however, consumption of these resources is inseparable from the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which contribute to climate change (IPCC, 2012). Ireland’s ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and associated agreements implies a commitment to climate action, yet the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) recently admitted the country is a ‘laggard’ in comparison to our European counterparts.

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Outlining relevant policies and practices, the paper reveals conflicts and contradictions inherent to the state’s approach, for example the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies alongside efforts to increase hydrocarbon extraction and agricultural activities which raise GHG emissions. By critiquing such multi-dimensional paradoxes, this paper questions if the term ‘failure’ might better reflect the reality of Ireland’s current responses to climate breakdown. Nonetheless, being cognisant of the evolving nature of climate action, the paper will also explore opportunities for change proposed by civil society groups and independent Teachtaí Dála (members of parliament) such as the Fossil Fuels Divestment Bill (2016) and Climate Emergency Measures Bill (2018).

Tracing an alternative pathway for climate action, the paper concludes that responding to climate breakdown necessitates a rapid transition to ‘low-carbon systems based on green technologies’ (Healy and Barry, 2017).

Biography

Dr Amanda Slevin is a sociologist, educator and activist who focuses on society-environment interactions, including decision-making and policy formation around energy and the environment. Due to her extensive research on state hydrocarbon management, Dr Slevin recently served as an invited witness to the Irish Government’s Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment as part of the Committee’s detailed scrutiny of the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill (2018). Author of Gas, oil and the Irish state: Understanding the dynamics and conflicts of hydrocarbon management (2016, 2017; Manchester University Press), Dr Slevin works as a Lecturer in Social Policy with Queen’s University Belfast.


‘Skin in the Game’: Complicity and Representations of Queer Embodiment

Professor Dr Conny Wachter, Institute of English/British Cultural Studies, Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany
Wednesday 20th March 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Professor Dr Conny Wachter

Professor Dr Conny Wachter, Institute of English/British Cultural Studies, Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany

Queer activism and queer studies are suffused with complicity rhetorics. It, for instance, operates in the demarcation of internal fault lines, and much criticism takes the form of critiquing complicities with hetero-patriarchal structures of oppression. And yet, the concept of complicity itself has rarely received adequate attention. My lecture brings recent research on complicity and collectivity into dialogue with queer literary and cultural studies so as to illustrate, on the one hand, the relevance of complicity studies to queer (literary) studies and, on the other hand, to demonstrate what queer literary and cultural studies can, in turn, contribute to the burgeoning field of complicity studies.

By way of example, I am going to engage specifically with Thomas Docherty’s recent monograph Complicity (2016). Docherty is, for one thing, concerned with linguistic reduction as an operation of power that renders complicity virtually inevitable. Docherty, therefore, points to the necessity of inventing ‘new languages’. I am first of all going to explore the issue of linguistic reduction and resistance against it specifically within the current context of queer politics and the contrary trajectories of a linguistic proliferation that the diversity of sex, gender and sexuality more adequately and a simultaneous cultural backlash that reads this ‘invention of new languages’ as linguistic reduction.

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Secondly, I am going to engage with Docherty’s observation of a general tendency to replace responsibility with accountability. In his plea for responsibility, Docherty points out that people often literally have ‘skin in the game’. Aside from considering how this pertains to questions of queer politics, I am going to explore how having ‘skin in the game’ is often also precisely the reason for becoming complicit and how the recognition of this form of complicity is the necessary basis for being able to overcome it.

Literature is relevant to both aspects in various ways. I can serve well to map the complex embodied entanglements that form the context in which such complicities arise, as well as means of resisting socially harmful structures by inviting what John Storey (forthcoming 2019) calls a “radical unfolding”. It can thus contribute to precisely the invention of new languages that Docherty envisions. On the other hand, literature is often complicit with structural social injustice. Frequently, however, we find complicity ‘enfolded’ in anti-complicity and vice versa. My lecture illustrates both the beneficial and the harmful potential of literature regarding complicity with and resistance against heteronormativity and its deleterious corollaries and demonstrates what contributions literary texts can make to the exploration of complicity in and beyond queer studies.


Universities: The Neo-Liberal Nightmare

Bob Brecher, Professor of Philosophy, University of Brighton
Wednesday 3rd April 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Bob Brecher

Bob Brecher, Professor of Philosophy, University of Brighton

I focus in this talk on a central element of neoliberalism’s agenda concerning the creation of individuals in its own image: the universities. The process having started at school with the construction of children as atomic and competitive egos whose worth and self-worth is measured in terms of examination results by teachers whose jobs depend on them, that discipline has to continue to be imposed as they mature into university students. So where once universities were at least something like institutions of disinterested learning, they have now been pressed into ideological service in the production and consolidation of the neoliberal individual in order that they may reproduce the features of that individual throughout the rest of their lives.

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The nearly 50% of UK school leavers who now go to university go there not only in order to be trained to perform their role in the continuing evolution of the so-called knowledge economy and to deal with youth unemployment: crucially, they have to be persuaded of Hayek’s description of human beings as inevitably ignorant, a task that requires bringing about just that state of affairs that he claims is inevitably already the case. And that in turn requires the neoliberal revolutionaries to demand a fundamental reorientation of the university, from purveyor of knowledge to purveyor of ignorance. Having outlined some salient features of the neoliberal nightmare that is today’s British university, I shall finish by raising the crucial question: “What is to be done?”

Bob Brecher is Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Brighton, UK, and Director of its Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics & Ethics. He is author of Torture and the Ticking Bomb (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 2007) and writes widely on torture, “terrorism”, neo-liberalism and a range of topics in applied ethics.


Cats in Crisis: How Canterbury’s Cats Coped with the Christchurch Earthquakes

Donelle Gadenne, GTA, Social Sciences/Centre for Human Animal Studies
Wednesday 1st May 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Danielle Gadenne

Danielle Gadenne, GTA, Social Sciences/Centre for Human Animal Studies

As a consequence of the 7.1 and 6.3 magnitude earthquakes that struck Christchurch, New Zealand in the months of September 2010 and February 2011 respectively, hundreds of thousands of non-human animals’ lives were profoundly impacted. One companion species deeply affected in various ways is the popular and ubiquitous domestic cat.

The proverbial ‘nine lives’ attributed to cats reflects the uncanny ability of this species to survive in extreme circumstances, to prevail against the odds and overcome adversity; however, it also risks misrepresenting them as being far less susceptible to harm and trauma than they are. As a result of joining our human families, cats are in a situation where they are exposed to traumas such as earthquakes in much the same way as we are. They are sensitive creatures, and equally vulnerable in emergency situations.

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In this presentation, I discuss some of the experiences of cats affected by the earthquakes, outline some of the key issues and concerns related to emergency responses to cats in times of crisis and provide an overview of the role of animal welfare organizations in cat rescue and rehabilitation. The plight of cats in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes suggests that there are lessons to be learned regarding how to best ensure the welfare of our feline companions when caught in natural or human-made disasters.

Donelle Gadenne is a qualified veterinary nurse who has worked in the veterinary industry in Australia for over two decades. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing, Editing and International Cultural Studies at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia in 2011 and obtained an Honours degree in Writing in 2012. She has a Master of Arts degree in English completed at the University of Canterbury (within the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies, NZCHAS) in 2015 and is co-author, along with Associate Professor Annie Potts, of Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes (Canterbury University Press 2014). She situates her research within Critical Animal Studies and has primarily researched literary representations of animals in fiction. She is currently interested in Vegan Studies and will undertake doctoral studies in Sociology at Edge Hill University in 2018. Her project involves researching the role of veganism in the veterinary industry. Find more information on her publications at academia.edu


Tales of the Human and More than Human at Burscough Community Farm

Frank Burke GTA / Dr Victoria Foster Senior Lecturer, Social Sciences
Wednesday 15th May 2019
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

Dr Victoria Foster

Dr Victoria Foster, Social Sciences

Frank Burke

Frank Burke GTA, Social Sciences

Burscough Community Farm is a project based in West Lancashire that aims to engage the local community in growing and consuming organic produce in line with its radical environmental goals. We have been carrying out two separate, but at times overlapping, research projects at the farm, and this seminar will introduce our work.

Frank will present some of the stories that have been told to him during his doctoral research at the farm. The ‘storied lives’ of participants will be explored through reflections and tales of farming, landscape, nature, change and memory. Victoria draws on the findings from a RIF-funded arts-based research project that she carried out at the farm with Dr Barnaby King (Performing Arts). Here she focuses on the more than human participants in the project: the elementals, plants, earth and nonhuman animals.