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Social and Political Theory Graduate Forum

About the SPT Graduate Forum

Essex, Sussex and Warwick Universities are collaborating on an interdisciplinary project to facilitate the exchange of ideas amongst graduate students working in Social and Political Theory. The initial focus of this is to arrange an annual Graduate SPT Conference. The first one will be hosted by the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, on the 28th of March 2009.


The Forum Team:  

  • Chris Allsobrook (Philosophy, Sussex)
  • Matthew Astill (Philosophy, Essex)
  • Rodrigo Cordero (Sociology, Warwick)
  • Joshua Lowe (Sociology, Warwick)
  • Maria Popescu (Philosophy, Sussex)
  • Allen Radtke (Philosophy, Essex)


2009 Conference

  • Conference Theme: "Crisis and Critique"  

50 years after the publication of Reinhart Koselleck's classic 'Critique and Crisis', current global financial and environmental crises demand an urgent rethink of the practice and role of critique in social and political theory. Given the severity of the series of crises unfolding, the forum will be inaugurated with a conference on the theme 'Crisis and Critique'.

An extended economic boom fuelled by unchecked levels of debt coupled with sharply widening inequality has imploded leaving the global financial system in disarray. Substantial bank bailouts, failed IMF/World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs and the success of authoritarian state capitalism in China and elsewhere, all prompt a serious reconsideration of the dynamic between state and market, putting into question previously unassailable free market doctrines with serious implications for democracy and human rights. Furthermore, contemporary development and growth strategies are leading to surging energy demands, political instability and climate chaos as symptoms of global warming are felt in extreme weather conditions across the globe.

A critical and balanced understanding of crisis is a dominant theme in current politics. This is the case for economists, environmentalists and politicians, but also for ordinary people struggling to understand the world in which they live. The aim of this conference will be to ask: To what extent and by what means does critique not so much 'inform' discourses of crisis but seek to be active in its own right regarding them? Will these crises result in significant changes to contemporary capitalist economic doctrines? What is the role, nature and function of critique with regards to crisis and what can it hope to achieve?

  • Keynote speaker:

Profesor Raymond Geuss, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Paper title: 'On bourgeois philosophy and the concept of criticism'

  • Abstract Submission

Graduate students are invited to present papers in any area of research in Social and Political Theory addressing the conference theme. We are interested in a wide variety of disciplinary approaches including for example, reflection on the role of critique, on the underlying economico-political or socio-cultural causes for the current crisis and the imminent repercussions on the international stage of political relations.

Papers should be approximately 3000 words and suitable for a presentation of 20-30 minutes. Abstracts of no more than 300 words will be accepted until 30 January 2009. To submit an abstract complete and send this form (Word Document) to:

  • Date / Venue
28th March 2009 / Institute of Philosophy, University of London. N336, Senate House, Malet Street WC1.