The Social Theory Workshop, coordinated by Jo Dillabough, is open all students, faculty, CTO’s, post-doctoral fellows and research assistants and associates. We want to keep the talks exciting and engaging so novel methods for presenting are most welcome. Peer to peer interviews between colleagues and students and supervisors are also welcome. The previous two workshop themes were on populism and social theory and conflict in the transnational city. This term’s theme is Violent Modernities.

VIOLENT MODERNITIES: For several decades now, the tide has been turning in the study of modernity and its various manifestations. For example, for sociologists across the 20th and early 21st century, much of this study reflected the changing character of modernity as a feature of time, space, power, and global and transnational pressures (e.g., risk society). Whilst this has been important work, other lines of analysis in political thought, alongside more recent work in the fields of History of Science, World Studies, Political Philosophy, Conflict and Security Studies, Decolonial Studies, Critical Border studies, and Counter-Public studies, signal that this trend in the sociological study of modernity is waning. Instead, we are witnessing an increased interest in the study of the relationship between modernity and violence. In this social theory workshop, we explore this relationship broadly through varied themes: political genocide and modern nation state building; the imperial legacies of modern bureaucracies and technocratic rationalities as violence; the transnational state as a violent space of securitization, populism and geopolitical conflict; and violence inhering in the knowledge making institutions of modernity (e.g., issues related to racializing knowledge, new forms of statelessness, risk technologies and the stranger, and spaces of exceptions such as refugee camps). These are just some of the topics that we might consider responding to but there are many others that could be asked.  

Our first session will be Feb 10th, Wednesday, at 4:30 -6:00 pm. Zoom details will be announced shortly and the program will run until March 24th, 2021, on alternate Wednesdays in the same time slot. We will also have an on-line pub event which will follow for those who can stay for a drink. 

FEB, 10th, 2021 – 4:30 to 6 PM: Dr Ali Mejhji in conversation with Seetha Tan and Simina Dragos

 ‘Working in synergy between critical race theory and decolonial thought’.

There is a burgeoning interest in the differences between the sociology of race and decolonial thought. This talk develops such discussions by focusing on decolonial thought and a seemingly incongruous paradigm within the sociology of race – critical race theory (CRT). While decolonial thought stresses the continuity of colonial power relations, is committed to transnational and temporally connected analysis, and tends to use historical methods, CRT is based around the premise that contemporary racism must be analysed outside of colonial legacies, tends to analyse nation states outside of their global interlinkages, and methodologically commits to a ‘presentism’ by focusing on the contemporary day. Nevertheless, despite these differences, I argue that CRT and decolonial thought can synergize to provide prescient analysis of contemporary crises in a way that is both historically and globally oriented, while also being specific to national particularities.  

BIO:  Dr Ali Meghji is a Lecturer in Social Inequalities in the Department of Sociology, Cambridge. He is the director for the MPhil in marginality and exclusion, the course organiser for SOC12 Empire, colonialism, imperialism, and the chair of ‘Decolonising Sociology’. Currently, Ali’s predominant research interests lie in bridging the epistemological, methodological, and empirical divergences between critical race theory and decolonial thought. Through this research, Ali intends to balance the study of national racialized social systems with the global process of coloniality.