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2012 - 2013 lecture series

Movement, Protest and Social Change

19th October 2012

Public Lecture: From Hippy to Hip - Dissent in a Globalised World

Speaker: Dr Kumi Naidoo

'The environmental movement has achieved widespread popularity since its rise in the 1970s. What are the challenges facing civil society leaders today? And what will successful mass mobilisation require in the future?'

Dr Kumi Naidoo is the International Executive Director of Greenpeace. Born in South Africa in 1965, he became involved in South Africa's liberation struggle at the age of 15 when he joined the Helping Hands Youth Organisation (an affiliate of the South African Youth Congress). After the Apartheid government imposed a State of Emergency in 1986, he was arrested numerous times, charged for violating provisions against mass mobilisation and civil disobedience. Police harassement eventually forced him to go underground before fleeing to the UK in 1987. He spent his time in exile at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, earning a doctorate in political sociology.
After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, Naidoo returned to South Africa to work on the legalisation of the African National Congress. He was founding executive director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), whose mandate is to ensure that the traditions of civil society continue to serve the people of South Africa. In addition, he held several leadership positions on a wide range of education, development, and social justice initiatives, including the 1997 National Men’s March against Violence against Women and Children, the adult education NGO sector and as the official spokesperson for the 1994 Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
From 1998 to 2008, he was the Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of Johannesburg-based Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, which is dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. He has been Global Council co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty since its inception in 2003 and he has also served as a board member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development for 5 years. In July 2012, Kumi received the degree of Doctor Legum (honoris causa) from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

22nd October 2012

Public Lecture: Participatory Democracy in America's Long New Left

Speaker: Professor Linda Gordon

'Most writing about the American New Left mistakenly refers only to the white student-intellectual movement that coalesced on campuses in the 1960s. This lecture treats the “long New Left,” from civil rights through the white student movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women's liberation movement and the gay liberation movement, taking in also the environmentalism that continued throughout. Within that capacious movement, two related themes dominated: participatory democracy and prefigurative politics—impractical, utopian objectives, yes, but also principles that derive from and continue the core democratic socialist aspirations.'

Linda Gordon is University Professor of the Humanities and Florence Kelley Professor of History, New York University. Her research and writings encompass Russian history, the historical roots of contemporary social policy debates in the US, particularly as they concern gender and family issues, and the work of photographer Dorothy Lange. She has won many awards including Guggenheim, NEH, ACLS, Radcliffe Institute and the New York Public Library¹s Cullman Center fellowships. Her publications include Woman's Body, Woman's Right: The History of Birth Control in America (1976, revised and re-published as The Moral Property of Women in 2002), Heroes of Their Own Lives: The History and Politics of Family Violence (1988), Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare (1994), The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction (1999), and Impounded: Dorothea Lange and Japanese Americans in World War II (2006).

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

19th November 2012

Special Miliband Lecture: The Making of Global Capitalism

Speakers: Professors Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin

Discussant: Professor Robin Blackburn

Co-sponsored by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations

'The all-encompassing embrace of world capitalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century was generally attributed to the superiority of competitive markets. Globalization had appeared to be the natural outcome of this unstoppable process. But today, with global markets roiling and increasingly reliant on state intervention to stay afloat, it has become clear that markets and states aren’t straightforwardly opposing forces.'

This event will discuss ideas in their ground-breaking book, The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of the American Empire, in which Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin demonstrate the intimate relationship between modern capitalism and the American state, including its role as an “informal empire” promoting free trade and capital movements.

Sam Gindin is the former Research Director of the Canadian Autoworkers Union and Packer Visiting Chair in Social Justice at York University. Among his many publications, he is the author (with Greg Albo and Leo Panitch) of In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives. Leo Panitch is Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University. Editor of The Socialist Register for 25 years, his many books include Working Class Politics in Crisis, A Different Kind of State, The End of Parliamentary Socialism, and American Empire and The Political Economy of Global Finance. Robin Blackburn is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and a former editor of New Left Review.

21st November 2012

Public Lecture: How Protest Movements Change America

Speaker: Professor Frances Fox Piven

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology

'Mass protests arise from convulsions deeply rooted in economy and politics, and the mayhem generated by those protests can in turn have a big impact on economy and politics. I will develop this thesis by examining a number of pivotal movements in American history, including the mobs of the revolutionary era, the abolitionists, and the labor, civil rights and feminist movements.'

Frances Fox Piven is distinguished professor of political science and sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research focuses on the development of the welfare state, political movements, urban politics, and electoral politics. Her books include Regulating the Poor (1972, updated 1993), Poor People's Movements (1977), The New Class War (1982, updated 1985), Why Americans Don't Vote (1988), The Mean Season (1987); Labor Parties in Postindustrial Societies (1992); The Breaking of the American Social Compact (1997), Why Americans Still Don't Vote (2000), The War at Home (2004), and Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America (2006).

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the President's Award of the American Public Health Association, and the American Sociological Association's Career Award for the Practice of Sociology, as well as their award for the Public Understanding of Sociology. She is a past president of the American Sociological Association, and past vice-president of the American Political Science Association.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.


27th November 2012

Public Lecture: Social Movements and Social Change

Speaker: Professor Craig Calhoun

'Drawing on his decades of research on social protest, Professor Calhoun will explore the roots of radicalism and the relationship between social movements and social change.'

Craig Calhoun is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics.

He took up his post as LSE Director on 1 September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge and President of the Social Science Research Council.

Professor Calhoun is an American citizen but has deep connections with the United Kingdom. He took a D Phil in History and Sociology at Oxford University and a Master's in Social Anthropology at Manchester. He co-founded, with Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at LSE, the NYLON programme which brings together graduate students from New York and London for co-operative research programmes.

He began his student life as an anthropologist and is the author of several books including Nations Matter, Critical Social Theory, Neither Gods Nor Emperors, and, most recently, The Roots of Radicalism: Tradition, the Public Sphere, and Early 19th Century Social Movements.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.


Public Lecture: The Labour Movement and Protest - A Working-Class Politics for the 21st Century

Speaker: Mr Len McCluskey

Date: Tuesday 15th January 2013

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building

The Labour movement has started to put itself once more at the heart of British politics in the wake of the economic crisis, with two huge demonstrations and a massive strike in the last 18 months. But it also needs to link up with social protest in a new way in order to effect change, uniting its traditional strengths with the energy and vision of groups like UK Uncut and Occupy. Unite is seeking to engage with working-class communities and social movements in a new way in order to develop a working-class politics for the 21st century. 

Len McCluskey is the general secretary of Unite the Union.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.


Public Lecture: Women, Protest and the Nature of Female Rebellion

Speaker: Ms Laurie Penny

Date: Tuesday 22nd January 2013

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

'A talk about women, protest and the nature of female rebellion, when that rebellion must take place on structural as well as personal fronts to be effective. Taking in Pussy Riot and the 2011 uprisings and stretching back to the Paris Commune, a contextual look at how the rage and pride of women is personal, political - and endlessly powerful.'

Laurie Penny is a journalist, blogger and author. She is a columnist and reporter for The Independent and has written for The New Statesman, The Guardian, The Nation, Salon and many other publications.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

Public Lecture: Democracy and Emotion

Speaker: Professor James Jasper

Date: Tuesday 29th January 2013

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building'

On those rare occasions when democracy has emerged in history, it has always been granted to certain kinds of people and withheld from others. Emotions have been used to define who is a full citizen, placing - in different ways and in different periods - slaves, women, children, immigrants, and the working class on the wrong side of an age-old contrast between the rational and the emotional.

Their protest movements have always been derided. But what if we view our feelings as ways of processing information, comparing options, and preparing ourselves to respond: as ways of thinking, rather than interferences with thinking? Can a new vision of emotions help us protect, repair, and extend democracy rather than curtailing it? Human dignity, the core of citizenship and democracy, is not simply a political accomplishment, but an emotional one. Social movements are not just about interests, but ways of giving new feelings a voice in politics.'

James Jasper is Professor of Sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.

Public Lecture: Can Democracy Be Saved? Participation, Deliberation and Social Movements

Speaker: Professor Donatella della Porta

Date: Tuesday 5th February 2013

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: New Theatre, East Building

'While liberal democracy is losing trust and legitimacy, social movements of different types call for alternative conceptions of democracy. The lecture will discuss the potential of participatory and deliberative models of democracy for addressing this crisis.'

Donatella della Porta is Professor of Sociology at the European University Institute.

A podcast of this lecture is available here.


Public Lecture: The Democracy Project

Speaker: Professor David Graeber

Discussant: Professor Craig Calhoun

Date: Tuesday 30th April 2013

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House

In this talk about his new book The Democracy Project, Graeber presents a new exploration of anti-capitalist dissent and revealing the alternative political and economic possibilities of our future.

David Graeber is an anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, who has been involved with the Occupy movement, most actively at Wall Street. Craig Calhoun is the director of LSE.


A podcast of this lecture is available here.

Public Lecture: Obama, the Tea Party, and the Future of American Politics

Speaker: Professor Theda Skocpol

Date: Thursday 2nd May 2013

Time: 6.30-8pm

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

'Barack Obama won a galvanizing victory in 2008 and has now been resoudingly re-elected to a second presidential term. As his first term played out amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, Obama and Democrats achieved some major reforms, but the president also faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans, who scored sweeping wins in the 2010 midterm election. As Obama's second term gets under way, he continues to pursue an ambitious agenda -- tax changes, immigration reform, gun control, and measures to address climate change. But U.S. politics remains fiercely polarized, Tea Party Republicans continue to obstruct, and fiscal constraints remain tight. How much of his sweeping "New New Deal" will Obama be able to accomplish and consolidate, and how will the ideological and generational conflicts his ascendance has brought to the fore play out in U.S. politics through 2014, 2016, and beyond?'

Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.

 A podcast of this lecture is available here.