Theory in Conversation

During Lent term we will hold a series of Theory Workshops which seek to assist students in learning to explore the meanings of theory and their significance for research, thinking and everyday life. In each session, theoretical work will be introduced by a member of the CPGJ Cluster or an invited speaker and they will be interviewed by another member of the cluster about how they either discovered or developed theoretical concepts, how they applied these concepts to research and arguments made in their writing and how they learned to identified a ‘good idea’ or that ‘needle in the haystack’ – even ideas that had not yet been covered in their own areas of research or their field of work and how such a discovery came about. Students will then discuss their theoretical orientations to work and pose questions to the presenting ‘theorist’ to engage a wider discussion on how to put theory to good use.

The theme for this term will be on theoretical formulations of populism, statelessness, and exile; however these themes will be viewed and discussed from a range of vantage points and with a range of topics in mind. Each of these sessions will take place on Wednesdays from 4:30pm to 6:00pm in DMB 2S5:

  1. Hannah Arendt on the Role of the State in the Making of Populism: Administrative Massacre, Identity Management and Populist (Transnational) State Ideologies. Jo Dillabough interviewed by J-Y. Park (Feb 6th, 2019)
  2. Theorising Space, Exile and the Growth of Populism. Matias Nestore and Susan Robertson (Feb 13th, 2019, beginning at 4:45 pm)
  3. Theorising Populism and Education in the Global South (Latin America). Aliandra Lazzari Barlete with Jo Dillabough (Feb 27th, 2019)
  4. Sociology/Anthropology/Education Collaboration (March 6th, 2019, TBA)
  5. Social theory and Critique. Jana Bacevic and Mark Carrigan (March 13th, 2019)

Theory is often abstract and may seem as if it does not have a place in the ‘real world’ of a research project or linked to research methods but critical theoretical orientations to the world are not ‘enemies’ in the paradigm ‘wars’ but instead represent a friend to our work and our research. We will discuss how theory ought to live in our work and through research and writing. We will also discuss theory for theory’s sake.

Students will be asked to bring a short snippet of their theoretical ideas and methodological insights to share and circulate for discussion. A focus on post-colonial approaches and cultural studies approaches will be highlighted but so too will socio-historical accounts of research.

How does one navigate the field of theory and method and learn to belong in both complementary and sometimes divergent and contested fields of research? Or better yet how to we bridge the gaps between often disparate groups who may not be speaking effectively enough to each other through their work?