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Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies seminars 2022/23

See the schedule of seminars taking place in the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies.

February 2023 Seminars

Seminars will take place in 1 West North 2.4 from 13.15-14.05 GMT (unless stipulated).

Tuesday 7th February 2023

  • Speaker: Emily Clifford, University of Exeter
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Human Trafficking and Futurescapes of Protection in Global Britain
  • Abstract: This presentation will showcase my doctoral work, investigating how women who have been trafficked into the UK make sense of and experience protection. Built upon the narratives of three women, Beth, Teresa, and Olivia, as they negotiate post-trafficking protection in the UK, I offer a participant-led insight into the anti-modern slavery sector and a theoretical revision of protection as it relates to race, citizenship, and time. I consider particularly how my participants’ experiences were influenced by understandings and practices of time and timekeeping. Using the work of Sara Ahmed, Barbra Adam, and Lauren Berlant, I argue that protection is an affective and temporal experience intimately tied to belonging and futurity. I contend that protection produces subjectivities in and through time; protection in the present is felt through the capacity to imagine and manage the future. My participants’ relationships to the UK were thus structured by time, yet contradictory logics of protection frequently produced greater violence. Ultimately, I show how promises of protection both obscure and potentially challenge the embodied contingency of the British public sphere..

Tuesday 14th February 2023

  • Speaker: Leah Owen, Swansea University
  • Time: 13.15-14.05 in CB 4.8
  • Title: ‘Enemies within, Enemies without’: Exploring the Role of Location and Urgency in Far Right/Extreme Securitising Politics
  • Abstract: ‘Infiltrators’; ‘fifth columns’; ‘cancers’ – how does the location of a supposed threat affect how authoritarian states react to it? Despite important work in social psychology and conflict/security studies, accounts that bridge material and affective explanations remain elusive. Drawing on the ‘neo-ideological synthesis’ outlined by Leader Maynard (2022), as well as work by Neilsen (2015, 2018) and Straus (2015), this presentation outlines a model of ‘intimate threat’ which is well-suited to extreme anti-minority politics. Imagery of dehumanised, pathogen-like enemies and ‘rational’ concerns about national security can combine with particularly deadly results. To develop this model, the presentation examines two very different case studies of ‘intimate threat’ discourse - genocidal dehumanisation, and modern anti-trans movements in the West. While both attempt to securitise an enemy within the nation, community, and home, the former typically has more success in issue-linking these emotional responses with more conventional security concerns, accounting for their differing outcomes.

Tuesday 21st February 2023

  • Speaker: Charlotte Luckner, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Does Gender Matter? An Analysis of Women Cabinet Ministers and Their Influence on Climate Policies
  • Abstract: Previous research on women representatives and their influence on policy has mostly focused on so-called women's issues such as childcare, parental leave, and healthcare spending. However, studies have shown that women are also more concerned about climate change, implying that women's representation could influence climate policy implementation. This begs the question whether female politicians have a positive impact on climate change policies. This paper addresses this gap at the level of executive bodies of governments. I investigate empirically how representation at the executive level influences the implementation of climate change policies. To measure women's representation, panel data on cabinet members over time are used. Using data from 1980 to 2020 in OECD countries, I examine how women ministers affect the number of policies. The findings suggest that there is a positive significant effect between the share of women as ministers and the number of climate change policies.

Tuesday 28th February 2023

  • Speaker: Dr Anouk Rigterink, Durham University
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Mining Competition and Violent Conflict in Africa
  • Abstract: Explanations for the well-established relationship between mining and conflict interpret violence near resource extraction sites as part of conflict over territory or government. We provide evidence that competition between artisanal and industrial miners is also an important source of natural resources related conflict, from qualitative case studies at mining sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe and a large-N analysis. For the latter, we use machine learning to estimate the feasibility of artisanal mining across the continent of Africa based on geological conditions. We find the impact of price shocks on violent conflict is roughly three times as large in locations with industrial mining where artisanal mining is feasible as it is in places with industrial mining but no potential for artisanal mining. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that 31 to 55% of the observed mining-conflict relationship is due to violent industrial-artisanal miner competition. This implies new avenues for conflict-mitigation.

March 2023 Seminars

Seminars will take place in 1 West North 2.4 from 13.15-14.05 GMT.

Tuesday 7th March 2023

  • Speaker: Jess Mezo, University of Bath
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Jou-Naissance - Or How We Recover from 'the Modern Condition' through Modes of Surrealist Resistance
  • Abstract: Throughout the last two decades, the sentiment that we, as political actors and private citizens, are becoming more ‘situated’ has come to be seen as part of ‘the modern condition’. With a growing group of actors immobilised, sedentarised, atomised, and rendered increasingly more visible, effective resistance leading to systemic change seems to have slipped beyond our horizons of potentiality. Therefore, it is more pressing than ever to look to new, innovative ways of resistance that could help groups and individuals ‘code themselves out’ of the oppressive syntax of the status quo and regain active agency in the process. As a case study of innovative resistance in action, the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party’s art- and satire-based approach will be discussed, with special regard to their mobilisation strategy and achievements, demonstrating that resistance, as we know it, may need to be reinvented.

Tuesday 14th March 2023

  • Speaker: Dr Federica Genovese, University of Essex
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Papal Dividends: Popes’ Political Communications and Financial Markets
  • Abstract: While market effects of political actors are documented in political science, less is known about the market reactions to political events with no direct policy influence. We focus here on the communications of the Catholic Pope. We analyze the market implications of a Pope’s most authoritative communications, the encyclicals, for relevant companies. We claim that investors are sensitive to encyclicals that take a political position on specific issues, because the Pope’s vision can influence public debates in these policy areas. However, the impact of the encyclical also depends on which ideology dominates the discourse around the Pope. A conservative encyclical that supports the business-as-usual strongholds will provide confidence to traditional investments, and thus boost returns to traditional firms. Vice versa, a more progressive encyclical can threaten traditional investments — unless forces lash back, in which case the message can backfire. We test this argument with three event studies of encyclicals by three different Popes.

Tuesday 21st March 2023

  • Speaker: Prof Peter John, King's College London
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Nudge+: How to Encourage Citizen Empowerment in Behavioural Public Policy
  • Abstract: Nudges or behavioural public policies tend to be introduced top-down, designed by experts and social scientists, who are often located in central nudge units. Citizens receive the prompt, default, or social norm, but are often not aware of what is happening to them. If nudges are technocratic and disempowering, how can policymakers and civic action organisations reinvent them with more engagement from citizens and greater respect for human agency? Does this strategy undermine nudges that rest on automatic mental processes or can policymakers encourage citizens to think about the nudge, showing them how to own the process and understand the public decision-making behind it. This is think or nudge+. There are now experimental tests of thinks and nudge+s in the field of the environment and public health that show that citizens can get more involved, either becoming more or even less supportive of nudges. Such a move to involve citizens can address the weakness of nudges as too reliant on individualised responses and not attentive to collective dilemmas, such as over climate change.

Tuesday 28th March 2023

  • Speaker: Dr Jonathan Wheatley, Oxford Brookes University
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Do Candidates’ Policy Positions Matter to Voters? Evidence from the 2021 Elections to the Welsh Senedd
  • Abstract: Candidate-based electoral systems are designed to ensure that those elected are individually accountable to voters. However, legislators are only likely to represent constituents’ policy interests if voters cast their ballots for those candidates who are closest to them on policy issues. We study the impact of candidates’ policy positions on voters’ electoral preferences in the 2021 elections to the Welsh Parliament. Using mass online survey data and a fixed-effects approach, we find that despite the “second-order” character of Welsh parliamentary elections, candidates’ policy positions did have an impact on voters’ electoral preferences. However, that effect is small, limited to issues that voters see as particularly important, and only emerges among voters with high political interest. Overall, our findings question one of the core justifications for candidate-based electoral systems.

April Seminars 2023

Seminars will take place in 1 West North 2.4 from 13.15-14.05 GMT.

Tuesday 18th April 2023

  • Speaker: Prof Michael Kenny, University of Cambridge
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Has the British State Forgotten the Art of Territorial Management?
  • Abstract: TBA

Tuesday 25th April 2023

  • Speaker: Dr James Pow, Queen's University Belfast
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Polarisation and Participation: Do Deep Divisions Mobilise Ethnic Hardliners and Deter Moderates?
  • Abstract: In polities with a recent history of ethnic conflict, elections typically remain dominated by the ethnic dimension. As voters seek to maximise the strength of their group’s political representation, other issues and ideological divisions tend to play a lesser role. At the same time, many eligible voters abstain from these often-polarising contests, giving rise to important questions. Do such elections largely mobilise those with the strongest ethnic identities and deter moderates? Or are the attitudes of voters and non-voters fundamentally similar in terms of ethnicity, but different in relevant non-ethnic ways, such as perceived internal efficacy? Using cross-sectional survey data collected after Northern Ireland Assembly elections in 2016 and 2022, this paper seeks to explain the main determinants of voting versus non-voting against a backdrop of ethnic polarization. The findings will deepen our understanding of democratic inclusion and representation in deeply divided places, particularly those with power-sharing institutions.

May Seminar 2023

Seminars will take place in 1 West North 2.4 from 13.15-14.05 GMT.

Tuesday 2nd May 2023

  • Speaker: Prof Edward Welch, University of Aberdeen
  • Time: 13.15-14.05
  • Title: Mosquito Eradication and the Environments of Spatial Planning in Post-War France
  • Abstract: Post-war France was transformed by a sustained period of spatial planning and development, what the French term aménagement du territoire, most notably during the presidency of Charles de Gaulle (1958-69). Alongside motorways, hydroelectric dams and other forms of infrastructure, aménagement produced a string of tourist resorts along the Mediterranean coast. In order to be viable, they required an extensive programme of mosquito eradication (démoustication). This paper explores the politics of mosquito eradication as it played out during the 1960s and government planners clashed with local interest groups concerned by the methods and consequences of démoustication. It goes on to consider broader perspectives on the relationship between spatial planning and the environment opened up by the policy: first in terms of how spatial planning involved the radical reengineering of landscapes and environments in visible and invisible ways; and second in terms of the often unforeseen legacies of those interventions as they have emerged over time, not least as France begins to face the realities of climate crisis.

Seminar enquires

For further information about our seminars, you can contact the organiser.