Other ISRF Workshops

Law: Social Organisation and Social Control

15 June 2018, Wharton Room, All Souls College, University of Oxford

What is the law? How is it created and enforced? Who decides the rules by which people are governed?

As a system of rules upheld through a variety of state-endorsed institutions to control human behaviour, the law affects everyone – the living and the dead – and, in its quest to protect people and private property, it is administrated through the use of violence where the state deems this necessary. The epistemological roots of the law developed from distinct historical, political, and cultural contexts, discourses of colonialism, and class-based ideologies. As such, although it is intended that the laws of the country apply to and will be felt by all people equally, the truth is that its application and weight continues to be biased according to race, access to social and financial capital, and gendered ideology. For example, police are six times more likely to ‘stop and search’ black people than white people in the U.K. and legal aid has fallen dramatically since the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 was implemented. In the eyes of law, only those identified as legal citizens are considered members of society and therefore ‘deserving’ of its protection, those ‘undocumented’ – migrants, travellers, refugees, homeless people – are cast as outsiders, left to the mercy of underground gangs and protection rackets.

This study day brings together a small group of scholars working on a variety of aspects of law, policing, criminology, prisoner rehabilitation, and social welfare, to discuss the social, legal and governmental institutions by which U.K. law is upheld and administrated. This workshop will consider ways in which notions and practices of the law are challenged and reconfigured in different disciplinary domains and epistemic traditions, and in conjunction with contemporary developments ranging from ‘austerity’ to rave culture. The workshop will be informal and exploratory, it seeks to involve the audience in discussion of emergent themes and hopes to identify possible directions for future study and critical elaboration.

Evidence & Temporality

16 March 2018, Senatus Room, Westminster College, Cambridge
Should there be strike action on 16th March, please be advised that participation in the workshop will not involve crossing a picket line, as Westminster College is not part of the University of Cambridge.

How might evidence and temporality be productively thought in tandem? Construed as the grounds of knowledge, prevailing constructs of evidence often seem to have a retrospective tilt: past occurrences and observed patterns are consulted to make sense of the present and as guides to future action. So conceived, evidence reinforces Occidental ideas of temporality as a continuously flowing current of successive and irreversible moments. In this way it might be said that prevailing constructs of evidence and temporality work to co-constitute one another as figures and frames of continuity and determination.

This workshop will consider ways in which notions and practices of evidence and temporality, and the relations presumed to obtain between them, are being challenged and reconfigured in different disciplinary domains and epistemic traditions, and in conjunction with contemporary developments ranging from advances in genomics and the emergence of a “promissory” bioeconomy; climate change and anthropocenic precarity; and the phenomenon of “fake news” and the dawning of a “post-truth” era.

The workshop will bring together a small group of researchers from across the social sciences to consider evidence and temporality as objects and optics of analysis, and the affordances of thinking about them together. The workshop will be informal and exploratory, and is intended to identify possible directions for future study and critical elaboration. Some preliminary orienting questions are as follows: How do different ways of doing/thinking about evidence anchor and give meaning to different temporalities; reciprocally, how do different kinds of temporality and timescapes inflect different ways of doing/thinking about evidence? In what contexts are received ideas and practices of evidence and temporality being challenged and reconfigured, with what kinds of effects and implications? How are such shifts reconfiguring perceptions of possibility and limitation, and the experience and enactment of contingency and determination? How is that which is absent or non-existent (temporally, materially) evidenced? How do different semiotic modalities support or subvert various constructs of evidence and temporality, and the relation between them?

Economics & Anthropology

12-13 January 2018, Goldsmiths, University of London

Beginning with a two day workshop – Economics and Anthropology – in January 2018, the ISRF intends to support a series of annual workshops with the aim of bringing economists and other social scientists, to facilitate new conversations and the development of common vocabularies.

This workshop aims to explore key interfaces between economics and anthropology. It will include four sessions, on the themes of production and work, industrialization and development, credit and debt, and economic action.

The central themes will be the interface between work practices and social contexts in the understanding of production; the interplay of industrialization, de-industrialisation and re-industrialisation in the process of economic development; the individual identities and social relationships associated with credit and debt positions; and the dichotomy between instrumental rationality and the societal provision of material means as a foundational problem in both economics and anthropology.

In each session, an anthropologist and an economist will give a talk on related issues, also commenting on what is specific to their disciplinary approach to the issue. Talks will be followed by in-depth discussion with participants, also in view of i) comparing insights on specific issues, deriving from different disciplinary angles; ii) discussing the fit between issues and methods; and iii) exploring the potential for some elements of a shared language.