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ASCA Theory Seminar: Interventions

Convernors: Esther Peeren and Jaap Kooijman. Coordinator: Eloe Kingma | ​​​​​​ First session 23 September 2021, 15:00-17:00. | Other sessions: 21 October 2021, 25 November 2021, 17 February 2022, 14 April 2022, 12 May 2022.


As Fred Moten and Stefano Harney write, “it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment” (2004: 101). The critical scholar is “to be in but not of” the university. What then is the place of scholars and their research both within and outside of academia? How can we do research that matters? In this year’s seminar we will explore these questions by reading texts by scholars that have had an impact in both academic and public debates and which have provided theoretical underpinnings to political activism in a post-truth society, addressing issues of structural inequality based on race, gender, class, and sexuality, of the environment and climate change, and of conspiracy theories and a growing distrust in science. By discussing how these texts have made interventions in debates beyond academia, we can also address the position of the critical scholar in relation to society at large. 

The aim of the ASCA Theory Seminar is twofold:

First, we propose to explore broad theoretical and methodological paradigms, and discuss influential texts in relation to ASCA PhD projects. Participants of the Theory Seminar will become acquainted with current practices in cultural analysis and learn how to integrate them in their own work.

The second important aim of the Theory Seminar is community building. The seminar aims to bring together PhD candidates from the diverse disciplines within ASCA to learn about each other’s research projects, struggles and joys, and to make new friends. To serve this latter purpose, each session will end in a café (now online) with (bring your own) drinks.

The ASCA Theory is a collective initiative of the PhD candidates and the ASCA directors. The ASCA directors, Esther Peeren and Jaap Kooijman, will be involved as ‘guides’, formulating a theme and selecting some of the readings. The sessions will be prepared and chaired by a team of (two to four) PhD candidates from different disciplines. They are expected to propose an additional reading and to show how the particular theoretical paradigm under discussion is of use to them in their project. 

We want to create a regular group for all six sessions, so if you register you are making a commitment to participate in all sessions. We recommend that all PhD candidates in their first and second year follow the ASCA Theory Seminar integrally. PhD candidates who are in their third year or further along are very welcome to join, too, as are ASCA staff members.

Please register for the ASCA Theory Seminar by sending an e-mail to Eloe ( with a short summary of your project (no more than 100 words) and a prefernce for one of the sessions you would like to co-organize. Please register before 15 September 2021.

  1. 23 September 2021: University (Fred Moten/Stefano Harney, The Undercommons & Peter Fleming, Dark Academia);
  2. 21 October 2021: Feminism (Silvia Federici, Re-Enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons & Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life);
  3. 25 November 2021: Environment (Feral Atlas - Feral Atlas & Anna Tsing et al., Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet);
  4. 17 February 2022: Animals (Eva Meijer, When Animals Speak & Bénédicte Boisseron, Afro-Dog & Zakiyya Iman Jackson, Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World);
  5. 14 April 2022: Pandemics (Benjamin Bratton, The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World & Rob Wallace, Dead Epidemiologists: On the Origins of Covid-19);
  6. 12 May 2022: Conspiracies (Todor Hristov, Impossible Knowledge: Conspiracy Theories, Power and Truth & Bergmann & Butter, "Conspiracy Theories and Populism" & Joseph Uscinski et al., "A Web of Conspiracy? Internet and Conspiracy Theory".