On June 22nd 2022 I presented a paper alongside my co-author, Shahnaz Akhter, to my own Department's annual research conference at Warwick. The paper was entitled 'Decolonising the School Curriculum in an Age of Political Polarisation'.
Abstract: 'The objective of decolonising the school curriculum itself embodies an obviously political act, but it has arisen within a broader political context that could hardly be said to support such an aim. There is a clear tension here. As students move through the school year groups they are increasingly exposing themselves to important questions of why the world looks as it does, why some people’s experiences of that world diverge from others’, and why what they are taught in schools appears to reinforce the structural inequalities to which they are becoming sensitised. Today’s students have embraced their access to a knowledge-rich society to become much more aware through self-education of the limitations of their curriculum than arguably any previous generation. Yet at the same time teachers are confronted with ever stricter guidance from government ministers about how they are expected to stick rigidly to the centrally-approved curriculum in a way that is inconsistent with any attempts to decolonise the content of lessons, let alone the experience of school more generally. This might be through full-throated endorsement of a culture wars narrative, which labels any attempt to enlarge the content of the curriculum as a ‘woke’ attack on the very idea of Britishness, with associated emotional pleas to save the country’s children from indoctrination by critical race theory and/or cultural Marxism. It might alternatively be through the use of the House of Commons despatch box to threaten legal action against any teacher who is deemed to be in breach of the 1996 Education Act’s duty of political neutrality, as if the furious spats over the 2013 rewriting of the national curriculum can somehow be construed as evidence that the neutrality condition is alive and well. Our paper asks what the prospects are for a meaningful decolonisation of the school curriculum in an age of political polarisation, culture wars and threats to teacher autonomy.'
On April 21st 2021 I delivered a paper at the launch event for the Oxford Handbook of Politics and Performance. The title of my paper followed that of the chapter I contributed to the book, 'The Market: Eighteenth-Century Insights into the Performance of Market Practices'. The event was organised by the University of Warwick, but in line with all other events at the time it was held online.
Abstract: ‘The market’ has no independent objective existence beyond the practices that are embedded within particular market institutions. Those practices, in turn, involve learning particular techniques of performance, on the assumption that each market environment rewards a corresponding type of market agency. However, the ability to reflect what might be supposed the right agential characteristics is not an instinct that is hard-wired into us from birth. Instead it comes from perfecting the specific performance elements which allow people to recognise themselves as potentially competent actors in any given market context. This chapter takes the reader back to some of the earliest accounts of these performance elements, showing that important eighteenth-century debates about how to flourish as a market actor revolved around little else. In the early eighteenth century, Daniel Defoe emphasised the need for market actors to create convincing falsehoods, hiding their true feelings behind a presentation of self where customers’ whims were always catered to. In the late eighteenth century, Adam Smith was still wrestling with the dilemma of how genuinely the self could be put on display within market environments, believing that customers had a responsibility to curb excessive demands so that merchants’ interests could be respected. This meant not forcing them into knowingly false declarations, so that moral propriety and economic expedience were not necessarily antagonistic forces in the development of merchants’ character.
For a week during the school summer holidays of 2019, my Department co-hosted sixteen young people along with the Departments of Liberal Arts and Sociology for Warwick's Sutton Trust Summer School. Our stream was organised around the themes and the insights of the Colonial Hangover project. I delivered three sessions to the students during the course of the week. One was with my colleagues Shahnaz Akhter, John Morris and Ben Richardson, where we relied on the help we had been given this year by our undergraduate student research assistants Victoria Carasava and Darius Stasiulevicius to deliver an Imperial Walking Tour of Royal Leamington Spa, the town in which most Warwick undergraduates live for at least part of their degree. The other sessions were interactive lectures using the Vevox app to allow the students to express themselves through in-time online voting. These latter sessions were called, 'Restorative Approaches to the Legacy of Empire' and 'Empire and the Politics of Heroes'.
On June 6th 2019 I delivered the keynote lecture at the Political Studies Association Schools Day at the University of Warwick. The theme of the event was the politics of the future. My talk was entitled 'Democracy and Intergenerational Justice', and it focused specifically on how young people understand the mandate that was delivered for the UK to withdraw from membership of the European Union in a decision over which they had no say. In particular, we debated the possibility of moving towards a voting system in one-off events such as referendums whereby votes would be weighted proportionately according to how long you could be expected to live with the consequences of the result.
For a week during the school summer holidays of 2018, my Department hosted sixteen young people who had successfully applied to the Politics stream of the Sutton Trust Summer School at Warwick (https://summerschools.suttontrust.com/). Our week of events was organised around the themes of the Colonial Hangover project. I delivered three sessions to the students during the course of the week: (1) To What Extent Is Empire Still With Us Today?; (2) The Politics of Imperial Commemoration; and (3) The Politics of Global Apologies. I also helped to organise their outing for the day that they spent away from campus, which was designed to show them how the threads of empire were woven deeply into the Warwickshire countryside from the seventeenth century onwards.
On March 23rd 2018 I presented a paper at the West Midlands IPE Workshop held at the University of Birmingham. The paper was entitled, 'The History Curriculum in English Schools: What Have Our Undergraduates Been Taught About the British Empire?' It focused on the very positive effects that result from the ever greater attention that university students now pay to matters of curriculum design, in particular via the Decolonising the Curriculum movement. As a way into this question, I spoke about the prior history curriculum our English-based students would have experienced whilst they were at school, with its supposedly connected narrative of British national achievements and the Secretary of State for Education's desire for that narrative arc to be constructed around the activities of national 'heroes'. A contrast was drawn between the unquestioning ascription of heroic status to specifically imperial heroes in the Secretary of State's desired school history curriculum and our own students' deep-seated desire to challenge such assumptions.
All of the papers on the day were presented in the pecha kucha format.
The 2018 Colonial Hangover project for my Department's Widening Participation schools began with a full day of events on January 26th. This year's competition was introduced to the students, along with the list of milestones that will help them to develop their entries under the guidance of our undergraduate student ambassadors. I delivered the opening lecture for the day, called 'The British Empire and the 'History Wars' over the English School Curriculum'. Over seventy students were in attendance during the day.
I spent some time duing the summer of 2017 giving lectures to school-age students on my Department's Colonial Hangover Widening Participation project. On June 30th I was asked to deliver the opening keynote lecture to the Colonial Hangover Conference, which brought together A-level students with whom we had been working over the course of the year and our own undergraduates to whom we wanted to give experience of operating in an academic conference-like environment. On August 8th I gave the first two lectures to my Department's Sutton Trust Summer School, which was run throughout the week on the Colonial Hangover theme. The first lecture was entitled, 'The Politics of Imperial Names', the second 'The Imperial Politics of the Built Environment'.
On December 8th 2016 I delivered a guest lecture followed by a question and answer session to the Warwick Global Development Society. The topic of the talk was 'Adam Smith on Empire'.
On November 24th 2016 I gave a talk to a group of Year 12 schoolchildren entitled, 'The Price of Citizenship'. It focused on taxation, the way in which markets are currently being made to facilitate tax avoidance, and what the current political tendency to equate taxation with some sort of state-sanctioned theft of peronal money does to the ability to continue to fund public goods such as healthcare, education, environmental protection and pensions, access to which is traditionally seen as being part of the rights we hold as citizens.
On November 23rd and 24th 2016, along with my Department's Widening Participation Officer, Shahnaz Akhter, I gave a poster presentation on our Colonial Hangover project at the PAIS Impact Conference at the University of Warwick. The poster was seen by the eighty participants at the conference and by seventy Year 12 students visiting my Department on the second day of the conference for a Pathways to Politics Widening Participation Day. The students will be enrolled into our Colonial Hangover activities as the academic year progresses.
On March 22nd 2016 I was the academic lead on a Schools Day event, joining together with my Department's Widening Participation team to put on a series of sessions around the theme of the Colonial Hangover. Students were asked to reflect on the ways in which the legacies of the British Empire continue to reverberate down the generations and lead to particular perspectives being taken on the issue of racial politics today.
A film of the opening lecture I delivered can be found here: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+matthew+warwick+colonial+hangover&view=detail&mid=99B586FCAE014EACB7C599B586FCAE014EACB7C5&FORM=VIRE.
For the second year running I organised a whole day's event to allow the China Plate Theatre Company's artists-in-residence at Warwick Arts Centre to engage with the academic research of my colleagues in the Department of Politics and International Studies. The artists were at Warwick for intensive meetings for the whole of the week beginning 14.03.16 in the hope that discussions with academics might lead to the spark for their next major project.
In March 2016 I hosted a week-long visit to my Department from Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen, the founder members of the Rashdash Theatre Company (http://www.rashdash.co.uk/). They were at Warwick to attend meetings that I had put together with a number of my colleagues as a fact-finding mission for one of their future shows. It will have the wonderful title of 'Capitalism: The Musical'.
On December 10th 2015 I delivered a paper to the Raced Markets Workshop held at the University of Warwick, as part of a 'Key Conversations' session with Professor John Holmwood from the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. The paper is entitled, 'Robinson Crusoe and the Raced Market Frame of Orthodox Economics Textbooks', and it is available from me on request. Here is the abstract. A recording of the session was also made and can be accessed here: https://racedmarkets.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/thinking-race-through-economics-a-conversation-between-robbie-shilliam-matthew-watson-and-john-holmwood/.
"The signifiers ‘Crusoe’ and ‘Friday’ necessarily evoke a world of racial oppression and domination, one where the economic success of the white colonist depends wholly on the forced servitude of the ‘native’ population. Economics textbooks are perhaps the sole remaining medium in which the relations of power that exist between the two men are simply wished away. Economists appeal to the so-called Robinson Crusoe Economy to teach students basic conceptualisation techniques suitable for learning their subject field’s prevailing market models. Their Crusoe and Friday figures have none of the colonial history that Defoe imposed upon the original characters. Consequently, they are also not susceptible to the systematic deconstruction of racial hierarchies that marks the later tradition of postcolonial Robinsonades. The economics textbook writers populate their desert islands with a Crusoe and a Friday who instinctively recognise their equality under contract law and who therefore engage in entirely voluntary market exchange. Yet in acting against everything that is implied by the ‘Crusoe’ and ‘Friday’ signifiers they do nothing to erase the racial hierarchies into which they are locked. Indeed, the whole point of writing the current paper is to think through the alternative possibility that they simply serve to reinforce them. There is an important substantive link between economists’ market models and the market institutions that are created to regulate everyday economic behaviour. Therefore, if market models do indeed reproduce the signifiers ‘Crusoe’ and ‘Friday’, the possibility exists that market institutions are similarly raced even before any conscious agency is attempted within them."
On June 4th 2015 I presented a paper at the IPE Cluster Seminar Series at the University of Warwick. The paper was entitled, 'Trapped in Other People's Histories: IPE and the Austro-German Methodenstreit'.
On May 13th 2015 I delivered the opening keynote address to the public roundtable which started the three-day New Directions in International Political Economy Conference at the University of Warwick. The conference was organised as part of the University's Festival of Social Sciences being held to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. The title of my talk was, 'Beware of Qualifying Adjectives’.
A video of the whole of the roundtable event can be found here:
On May 12th 2015 I appeared on the PAIS Post-Election Roundtable in my Department. This event was run as part of the Festival of Social Sciences held to celebrate the University's 50th Anniversary. I was invited to speak about the economic and welfare dimensions of the General Election campaign and the economic and welfare implications of the result. I was on the panel alongside my professorial colleagues Wyn Grant, Mike Smith, Richard Aldrich and Shirin Rai.
On April 29th 2015 I delivered a teaching session to members of Liverpool Football Club's Academy. The men's under-18 team was visiting Warwick for two days, and this was part of my Department's attempts to show them how studying politics at university might run in parallel with trying to build their football careers. My session was entitled, 'Market Ethics and the Ability to Pay Principle'.
On May 21st 2014 I presented a paper at the PAIS General Departmental Seminar at the University of Warwick. The paper was entitled, 'Uneconomic Economics and the Crisis of the Model World'.
On Feburary 26th 2015 and on March 6th 2015 I delivered teaching sessions to different groups of secondary schoolchildren who were visiting Warwick as part of my Department's Pathways to Politics events. The session was entitled, 'Food Justice and Market Ethics'. A similarly themed session, this time called, 'Access to Food and the Market Ethic of Ability-to-Pay', was delivered to the University of Warwick Faculty of Social Sciences Widening Participation Summer School on July 7th 2015.
On January 29th 2015 I participated on the roundtable on the Ethics of Food Trade organised by Warwick University Food Co-op as part of the Warwick Hub Discussion Series. My contribution was entitled, 'Market Ethics in Food Trade: Consumer Rights, the Ability to Pay and Convenience Shopping for Ethics'.