A Neoliberal Nightmare: Beyond the Populist Insurgence?

Registration deadline
School of Art and Society,
University Centre at Blackburn College,
University Close,
United Kingdom.
BB2 1DN.


In Partnership with, and hosted by,
University Centre Blackburn College,
Blackburn, Lancashire, UK
10th – 12th May, 2017

Whilst the political left has a long-standing tradition of critique against the globalised orthodoxy of neoliberal socio-economic strategies and structures, the wide-spread disenfranchisement of the working class has provoked a response, not from the leftist position of critique, but from the populist fringe of the far-right that has successfully exploited the symptoms of alienation which have permeated every strata of society. The vulnerabilities of the system have been laid bare presenting an opportunity for both an immanent critique and a critical reassessment of the geopolitical landscape. This opportunity ought to be more broadly defined as an epistemological break in the orientation of the critical tradition circumscribing new spaces and experiences where the position of critique is in urgent need of redress and where the possibility of an emergent progressive response, counter-hegemonic narratives and cultural difference and social solidarity is both necessary and imminent. This would also involve drawing upon a rich legacy of theoretical and practical strategies for delineating the existential and cultural limits of economic rationality, enabling alternative activities and informal networks of production and exchange, and also different ways to experience identity, purpose and social solidarity. Conversely, we are also keen to invite speakers who work in spaces beyond the counter-motion of negative critique, those who seek to promote solidarity and celebrate difference at all levels, from the communal to the transnational.

From these broadly defined positions, we invite papers that address, but are by no means limited to, the following themes:
• A reassessment of conventional critiques of the Neoliberal Project
• The rise of far-right populism: signs, symptoms and counter-balance
• The notion of ‘post-truth’ and the impact on notions of expertise, intellectual life and pedagogic practice
• The role of discourse and practice in the mystification of the new order
• The relationship between consumption and material circumstances, and the divisions of labour between different social and cultural groups
• commodity aesthetics and consumption
• The role of a new politic
• Definitions of work and leisure in both neoliberal and potential post-neoliberal societies
• Commodification of social domains (education, welfare, healthcare)

Other related topics discussing cultural difference and social solidarity are welcome.
Panel suggestions, alternate forms of intellectual presentation and papers (both polished and in progress), which should be aimed at 20 minutes maximum, along with shorter presentations and contributions, are welcomed. We are also keen to promote creative, innovative and transdisciplinary approaches to research and scholarship.

The seminar will be organised around paper presentations that allow for discussion as well as exposition and roundtable plenaries; CDSS believe that open discussion serves to consolidate presenters’ papers, themes and emerging ideas. It is anticipated that publishing opportunities, for selected articles, will emerge from the seminar.

The CDSS Network:
Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network (CDSS) is an international organisation focused broadly on fostering collaboration and debate around the broad issues of difference and solidarity in human societies. The network organises an annual conference, as well as periodic seminars and collaborative projects – see www.differenceandsolidarity.org. It has a particular interest in supporting international research collaboration and younger researchers entering the international stage. The network works towards the development of trans-disciplinary and trans-national understandings of, and interventions in, questions of solidarity and difference. This event is the second collaboration between the CDSS network and the University Centre Blackburn College.

Prospective participants should submit an abstract of no more than 200 words via the online form at www.differenceandsolidarity.org. The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday the 17th of March 2017. We operate a rolling programme of considering and accepting paper proposals, as they are submitted, so as to facilitate those who need to apply for funding. We will aim to respond to all proposals by Friday 24th March 2017. Questions should be directed to Terry McDonough at the following address: terry.mcdonough@blackburn.ac.uk

Conferences Fees:
The seminar fees (below) include seminar packs, administration, refreshments, two lunches and two evening meals on both the 10th and the 11th May 2017. Venue details, menus and special considerations will be distributed before commencement of the event.
Waged/Full time Faculty – £100.00
Postgraduates/Part-time Faculty – £50.00

Accommodation for the event can be booked by delegates via the following suppliers:
Chimneys Guest House: B&B from £28.00 per night www.chimneys-guesthouse.co.uk (this location is 600 meters walking distance to UCBC)
Premier Inn, Blackburn, Cathedral Quarter, room from £72.00 per night (this location is 900 meters walking distance to UCBC)

Seminar Organisers:
Terry McDonough, Lecturer in English Language, University Centre Blackburn College, UK
Paul Reynolds, Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy, Edge Hill University, UK (and co-director, CDSS)

The Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity (CDSS) Network
In Association with the University Centre at Blackburn College

Terry McDonough,
Lecturer in English Language, University Centre Blackburn College, UK

Paul Reynolds,
Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy, Edge Hill University, UK (and co-director, CDSS)
Contact person
Terry McDonough