Upcoming Symposium: Representations of Slavery in Neoliberal Times

PLEASE NOTE PROGRAMME IS UPDATED IN AN ABOVE POST

Selected images from: Positive Negative Guardian Paperworks by Lubaina Himid via: http://www.lubainahimid.info/

We are happy to announce a one-day symposium to  be held at the University of Newcastle on Friday 25th May.

This symposium brings together speakers who address neoliberalism, contemporary slavery and modern slavery through the concept of representation (visual, affective, cultural and media).  It is hosted by Media and Cultural Studies, the Postcolonial Research Group and the Gender Research Group at Newcastle University.

Location: Research Beehive, Room 2.20, Old Library Building, Newcastle University

Time/Date: Friday 25th May 2012, 13:00 – 18:00, followed by a wine reception at Northern Stage.

Speakers:

Professor Marcus Wood, School of English, University of Sussex

Film Performance and the Memory of Slavery in Very Liberal Times

Professor Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Roundtable participants:

Dr. Kate Manzo (Politics, Newcastle), Dr. Diana Paton (History, Newcastle), Dr. Rachel Wells (Fine Art, Newcastle)

This is a free event, but places are limited. To book a place, please contact: Carolyn Pedwell: carolyn.pedwell@ncl.ac.uk

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Abstracts

Film Performance and the Memory of Slavery in Very Liberal Times

Professor Marcus Wood, School of English, University of Sussex

Marcus Wood will introduce and screen three short performance films that explore how the traumatic memory of slavery and colonization has been encoded in art and literature. High Tar Babies questions assumptions surrounding the concept of blackness and is intimately related to Wood’s recent tar paintings about race, hatred, slavery, and love. Kiss the Bat plays with the symbolism of the baseball bat. It highlights its significance as a symbol of at once American achievement – in that the sport is a successful cultural export – and ghetto brutality, dysfunction and violence (the bat being a weapon of choice). Stick features the adventures of a giant hockey stick as it moves through the Baroda riots in Gujarat and various sacred spaces of Hindu culture in India.

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Professor Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire 

This essentially visual presentation will attempt to show how The Guardian newspaper in 2007, and then just as strongly during subsequent years, constantly suggests that European sports teams and clubs disproportionally overspend when buying, selling and keeping black players.  While this is not an unusual stance by journalists in the British sporting press, The Guardian by frequently and jokily representing footballers and athletes via mocking photographs, degrading texts and or damaging juxtapositions of both, subtly ‘reminds’ its readers, many of whom are public health and social workers, teachers and academics as well as workers in the creative industries, of historically familiar racial stereotypes. The newspaper designers, by taking this approach, contribute to a situation in which the athletes remain within a ‘state of unbelonging’.

Much of Lubaina Himid’s recent creative visual practice has been taken up with building this archive of images and texts. The creation of a series of paper works, Negative Positives, in which ‘over-painting to emphasise’ has gone some way towards reclaiming the dignity of the people represented has however, to some degree, minimalised the findings and rendered them outside the debates they were intended to develop. Through the sharing of a range of these collected images both overpainted and in their original state, many from the year of commemoration 2007, Himid will invite discussion around how this subtle and oftentimes witty degradation of wealthy black elites undermines the campaigns opposed to contemporary slavery while at the same time visually fixing the black person as ‘other’ to be bought and sold.

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham

In dominant discourse on ‘trafficking’, mobility, debt and dependence are configured in a very particular way and the kind of debt involved is clearly marked as disturbing, dangerous, illegal, morally wrong. The trafficker’s objective is to make repayment impossible and so to establish personal, inescapable, and highly asymmetrical relations of power and dependency. Relations between trafficker and victim are represented as the very antithesis of freedom – trafficking is frequently referred to as ‘modern slavery’. And yet debt that generates relations of dependency is also often a feature of forms of mobility that are legally sanctioned; debt that compels people to take on work that they would otherwise refuse is hardly uncommon in Western liberal democracies; and the techniques used to recover legally sanctioned loans from citizen-debtors can be highly coercive. But legally sanctioned debt, backed by the coercive powers of the state, is not framed as ‘modern slavery’. Indeed, in neoliberal times, access to credit, i.e., the ability to indebt oneself by entering into socially sanctioned creditor-debtor relations, is a marker of social inclusion, something that both reflects and affirms political belonging and subjectivity. Starting from an interest in debt as a social relation, and in questions about why some debt relations are sanctioned while others are denounced, this paper is concerned with the ways in which liberal discourse on freedom, rights and citizenship constructs particular types of debt and dependency as ‘modern slavery’ while endorsing other arrangements that, from the vantage point of the individual affected, may appear equally if not more pernicious.

The full program me is now confirmed:

Programme of events 

1pm: Refreshments available

1.10 – 1.15: Welcome by Conference Co-Convener, Carolyn Pedwell, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

1:15 – 2:15: Professor Marcus Wood, School of English, University of Sussex: Film Performance and the Memory of Slavery in Very Liberal Times

Chair: Daniel McNeil, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

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2:15 – 3:15: Professor Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire: Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Chair: Daniel McNeil

 ——————–

3:15 – 3.45: Coffee break

———————

3.45 – 4.45: Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham: Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Chair: Anne Graefer, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

———————–

4.45 – 5.45: Roundtable

Dr. Kate Manzo (Geography, Newcastle University); Dr. Diana Paton (History, Newcastle University); Dr. Rachel Wells (Fine Art, Newcastle University)

Chair: Carolyn Pedwell

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6pm: Wine Reception, Northern Stage

PLEASE NOTE PROGRAMME IS UPDATED IN AN ABOVE POST


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