Other ISRF Workshops

Economics & The Plastic Arts

4-5 July 2019, Goldsmiths, University of London

The impulse for this workshop is to explore what is the evolving nature of art, and how this can relate and inform the way we understand economics.

Gotthold Lessing in his seminal enlightenment work, Laocoön, wrote about the strengths of the arts in representing different aspects of reality, and created the groundwork both for renewing the link between the perception of reality and mimetic representation, and for distinguishing the domain of the different arts in what they can faithfully capture. In contrast, August Schlegel’s work, distinguished between ancient and the modern aesthetics, by both problematizing the very nature of representation in art, and as a consequence the distinct separation of fields of art.

Schlegel is chiefly remembered today as a central figure of the German Romantic movement. He argued that modern art relates to an environment that arose within specific historical conditions, and, as a result, requires a completely new framework of understanding. Art cannot be seen to mimic nature, an aspiration of ancient art that was re-affirmed in the Enlightenment and the classicist tradition. For Schlegel, art could not be a mere ‘imitation’ or ‘representation’ of nature; it is the product of a creative force and, therefore, of expression. Thus he writes in relation to poetry, “the poetry of the ancients was the poetry of enjoyment, and ours is that of desire” (Schlegel, 2015 [1845], 10).

This workshop examines the potential relation and dialogue between plastic arts and economics. Both terms are widely used, but definitions are elusive. If plastic arts essentially relate to the world as something that can be moulded, shaped and transformed, then it is nothing more than a mode of expression, a state of mind. Is, then, economics with all its devices and other trappings another plastic art? According to some of its practitioners, economics appears to be a rational, enlightenment-inspired machine to uncover social and economic reality. Economic theory has been described as representing, predicting, abstracting, imagining, mimicking and simplifying reality, in its effort to define how it relates to the social sphere. Also, economic theory is not monolithic and different traditions that emanate from past eras and strands within the discipline come up with a range of answers on the relation between economic theory and reality. Perhaps, one result of this plurality may be to see economic theory as a romantic reengineering of our society, its values and its processes. This leads us to the following questions: Does theory explain and uncover natural, immutable and ever-present tendencies or does it form and transform our understanding of the social environment by appealing to modern aspirations? How does art mediate this difficult relation between reality, representation and transformation? These are the themes that this workshop investigates.

Speakers will include:

  • Stavros Alifragkis Adjunct Lecturer, Hellenic Open University & Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Jorella Andrews Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Sheila Dow Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Stirling
  • Leah Durner Painter, New York
  • Jill Gibbon Senior Lecturer in Graphic Arts, Leeds Beckett University
  • Ariane Hillig Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Sarath Jakka Postdoctoral Researcher, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent
  • John Latsis Associate Professor in Social and Organisational Theory, Henley Business School, University of Reading
  • Foteini Lika Researcher, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University
  • Jamie Morgan Professor of Economics, Leeds Beckett University
  • Stratos Myrogiannis Researcher, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University
  • Claire Pignol Associate Professor of Economics, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne PHARE
  • Constantinos Repapis Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • C.D. Rose Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing, University of Birmingham
  • Sara Stevano Lecturer in Economics, University of the West of England
  • Ekaterina Svetlova Associate Professor in Finance and Accounting, University of Leicester
  • Michael Uebel Research Affiliate, Office of the Associate Dean for Research, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin
  • Astrid Van den Bossche Lecturer in Marketing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Ragupathy Venkatachalam Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths, University of London

Referenda & Euroskepticism

2-3 October 2018, Universiteit Leiden & Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

At two related but distinct research events in The Netherlands – at Universiteit Leiden (2nd October 2018) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (3rd October 2018) – the ISRF intends to facilitate conversations around pressing political issues facing Europe – Referenda and Euroskepticism – whilst highlighting the value that publications such as The Conversation can bring to widening public debate. Each event will comprise a presentation from Stephen Khan, Editor of the UK branch of the The Conversation, about the value of such a news platform: the benefits that it can bring to universities and the professional trajectories of individual researchers, and also, its important role in countering ‘fake news’. This presentation will be followed by specially invited lectures on Referenda (Universiteit Leiden) and Euroskepticism (VU Amsterdam), responses from ISRF Fellows, and plenty of time for open discussion among the audience.

Confirmed Contributors


2nd October 2018, Universiteit Leiden
Law Room, Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ, Leiden
  • Annelien de Dijn – Professor of Modern Political History, Universiteit Utrecht
  • Stephen Khan – Editor, The Conversation UK
  • Matt Qvortrup – Professor of Applied Political Science and International Relations, Coventry University
  • Geerten Waling – Researcher in History of Democracy, Universiteit Leiden


3rd October 2018, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Aurora Room (HG-0C29), Vrije Universiteit, Boelelaan 1051, Amsterdam
  • Claes de Vreese – Professor of Political Communication, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Catherine de Vries – Professor of Political Behaviour in Europe, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Antoaneta Dimitrova – Professor of Comparative Governance, Universiteit Leiden
  • Stephen Khan – Editor, The Conversation UK
  • Patrick Overeem – Assistant Professor in Political Theory, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Monika Sie Dhian Ho – General Director, Clingendael Institute
  • Hans Vollaard – Assistant Professor in Dutch and European Politics, Universiteit Utrecht

Day One: Referenda

2nd October 2018, Universiteit Leiden

Law Room, Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ, Leiden

Day Two: Euroskepticism

3rd October 2018, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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.