January 2013 Newsletter

Happy New Year to you all and welcome to the first Backdoor Broadcasting newsletter of 2013.

As we here in the UK are limping along through the present economic downturn, and the Higher Education sector in the process of being decimated by government cuts, we are still managing to disseminate the research output of UK universities worldwide – and increasingly so. We have now regular listeners in over 120 countries around the globe, including in far-flung places such as Bhutan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Burkina Faso and Tajikistan. I think it is important to remember that UK academic research is of the highest international standard and that the rest of the world is well aware of that and eager to listen to as much as it can get.

December’s recordings were, as is always the case, cut short by the holiday period, so there is not as much as usual – which gives me a bit more space for more detailed descriptions.

The Aristotelian Society’s Monday seminars continued on the theme of free will vs determinism, with

Maria Alvarez – Choice and Voluntary Action

while the scientific angle on this question was explored by two more public lectures by Colin Blakemore

Colin Blakemore – The Unbearable Lightness of Seeing

Colin Blakemore – NeuroEverything?

It is interesting to know that Colin Blakemore, the distinguished neuroscientist, has been appointed as Director of the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for the Study of the Senses – and the two talks above (the first one, ‘Darwin’s Brain’ is here) clearly indicate that neuroscience will not be able to make any definite statements in favour of determinism in the near future. So for all of us in the Humanities, we wil still have a good few centuries of verbose erring and literary elaborations.

And continuing with Philosophy and philosophical models, we recorded another one of François Laruelle’s London lectures

François Laruelle – The Degrowth of Philosophy: Towards a Generic Ecology

which was organised, as before, by the London Graduate School at Kingston University. Professor Laruelle is speaking in English this time, with addition translation, as ever, by the ultra-competent Marjorie Gracieuse.

Also from Kingston, but this time from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), came the one-day workshop on

Time and Temporality, After Phenomenology

with papers from Peter Osborne, Jean-Michel Salanskis and Catherine Malabou.

Now moving on to Anthropology, the Royal Anthropological Institute’s annual Huxley lecture was give by

Alan MacFarlane – Anthropology, Empire and Modernity

at the British Museum – a brilliant lecture on the paradigm shifts in the study of anthropology.

Mary Fulbrook’s new book, ‘A Small Town near Auschwitz – Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust’ was discussed by Jane Caplan and the author in a fascinating event at the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism:

A Small Town near Auschwitz – Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust

Death and Trauma were further explored in the second of the ‘Death and the Contemporary’ series, organised by Georgina Colby and Anthony Luvera

Death and the Contemporary: Death and Trauma

with speakers Margaret Iversen (Essex), Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway), Jennifer Pollard (LCC Arts) and the artist and photographer Adam Broomberg.

The Royal Asiatic Society’s Thursday seminar was give by

Uta Lauer – Confluence: Arabic and Chinese Calligraphy

which was one of those talks (with brilliant images) where, while listening to it, it all seemed so obvious, despite never having thought about its possibility (of a confluence of Chinese and Arabic script).

The Austrian Cultural Forum – a relative newcomer to these pages – had invited one of Germany’s (and Austria’s) foremost public intellectuals, Wolfgang Mueller-Funk, to talk on his current research on literary modernism in German-speaking Europe:

Wolfgang Müller-Funk – The Architecture of Modern Culture: Hermann Broch reads James Joyce

Now, finally, from our old stalwarts Birkbeck College, a one day symposium on Crime Fiction & The Law

Crime Fiction & The Law – Symposium

organised by the School of Law, with Giancarlo De Cataldo, Peter Fitzpatrick, Patricia Tuitt, Chris Boge, Barbara Villez, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Janet McCabe, Fiona Macmillan and Costas Douzinas.

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All the best,