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Exploring Shame & Stigma: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

May 14th 2015, 10.00 – 13.00
Wolfson Research Exchange, 3rd Floor University Library

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(Please do register for this event as numbers are capped)

‘The normal and the stigmatized are not persons but rather perspectives’ (Erving Goffman)

‘At the risk of sounding ridiculous, it must be acknowledged that shame is a revolutionary feeling’ (Che Guevara)

In sociological and anthropological traditions stigma and shame have long been considered means of regulating the public sphere, of aiding and abetting the creation of categories of normalcy and deviancy, and of expressing social anxiety and distaste with respect to a particular social body. More recently, following the so-called affective turn within the Humanities and the Social Sciences, shame has been elevated as the primary reflective mood, the point where feeling and theory meet, and the signal of an excessive economy of interest or desire. How, then, might the often hidden and ambivalent feelings of shame help us to understand the explicit social operations of stigma, and, conversely, how might the often visible and visual registers of stigma help us to describe the shame pathology?

In this half-day workshop we will hear from researchers and practitioners in the fields of Sociology, Gender Studies, Theatre Studies, and Psychoanalytic Studies about the ways in which the terms stigma and shame are germane to their work. We shall consider the workings of these terms in cultural and critical discourse, and through discussions of class inequality, mental ill health, and the performance of identity. Workshop participants will be engaged in creative explorations of illustrative materials selected by our speakers. An outline of the session is available here.

This workshop is organized as a collaborative endeavour between Warwick University’s Social Theory Centre, and the British Sociological Association’s study group for Sociology, Psychoanalysis, and the Psychosocial. The BSA exists to promote Sociology. The BSA is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England and Wales. Company Number: 3890729. Registered Charity Number 1080235


Available here


Imogen Tyler, Centre for Gender & Women’s Studies, Lancaster University.

Imogen's research is concerned with social inequalities, power, injustice and resistance. Imogen is in the early stages of a new project on the sociology of stigma in neoliberal times, 'The Stigma Doctrine'. Imogen blogs at

Anna Harpin, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Warwick.

Anna’s work is particularly concerned with questions of politics, representation, and non-normative psychological experiences. More specifically she is interested in the cultural politics of madness and trauma. Anna is the co-artistic director of the theatre company Idiot Child with Susie Riddell, which you can read more about here

Jason Mast, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick.

Jason works in the areas of theory, culture and politics. Some of Jason’s present research interests include: the shifting bases of political legitimacy; resiginfication projects and performative innovation; event-ness; disgust and the symbolic logics that shaped Europe's 2013 horsemeat scandal.

Julie Walsh, Sociology, University of Warwick.

Julie Walsh is a Global Research Fellow in the Sociology department at Warwick University. Her research interests are in psychoanalysis (she is a practicing clinician as well as an academic), social theory, and the developing field of psychosocial studies. Her current research project is entitled ‘Test-Cases in Shameful Sociability’ which you can read more about here