Month: October 2012

Going Public: Intellectuals, Transformations, Responsibilities


Going Public: Intellectuals, Transformations, Responsibilities

featuring: Michael Leunig, Professor Raewyn Connell, Dr James Arvanitakis

Hosted by A/Prof Sarah Maddison

WHEN – 6pm Thursday 15 November (5.30 for drinks)

WHERE – New South Global Theatre, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

‘Going Public’ is part of the inaugural Arts & Social Sciences Dis/Connections Postgraduate Conference.

Both intellectual labour and the public sphere are undergoing profound transformations. There is an incredible diversity of social actors operating in early 21st century public life. New media, cultural hybridity, and the global nature of social, economic and environmental crises propel fascinating shifts in the dynamics of public life. Meanwhile, academic institutions are changing rapidly under the same forces. The ‘ivory tower’ is now online, reaching out in a ‘global marketplace of ideas’. With new reach, academics in the arts and social sciences are ‘going public’ with their knowledge in a variety of ways. Our featured speakers discuss how the intellectual can contribute to social, cultural and political life, What transformations intellectuals are contributing to, and what responsibilities come with this participation.

Michael Leunig is a cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet. His commentary on political, cultural and emotional life spans more than forty years and has often explored the idea of an innocent and sacred personal world.

Raewyn Connell holds a University Chair at the University of Sydney. She has developed a sociology of intellectuals in the context of neoliberal globalization. Her book Southern Theory critiques the northern bias of mainstream social science, and surveys social theories that arise in the global periphery.

James Arvanitakis is a lecturer in the Humanities at the University of Western Sydney. James has worked as a human rights activist throughout the Pacific, Indonesia and Europe. He is currently working with the Whitlam Institute looking at issues confronting Australia’s democracy. James’ latest book, Contemporary Society, gave rise to ‘socio-logic’ – a weekly radio show on FBI Radio (94.5fm).

The panel will be hosted by A/Prof Sarah Maddison, a leading scholar in social movement studies, gender politics, Indigenous political culture, dialogue and reconciliation.

New Journal launch: The American Journal of Cultural Sociology

Launching in 2013 The American Journal of Cultural Sociology aims to provide a single space where cultural sociologists can follow the latest developments and debates within the field. Founding Editors Jeffrey C. Alexander and Philip Smith (Yale University) and Ronald N. Jacobs (University at Albany, State University of New York) set out their vision for the new journal in their Editorial Statement [PDF, 23KB]

The American Journal of Cultural Sociology has published its first article via its Advance Online Publication service. ‘Defilement and Disgust: Theorizing the Other’ by Steven Seidman is  available here for FREE for a limited time from

You can also visit the journal’s blog here.

CFP: ‘Alternative Enlightenments’, Program in Cultures, Civilizations and Ideas

Call for papers: Alternative Enlightenments

Submission deadline: Saturday, December 1

Conference dates:
Friday, April 26 2013 – Sunday, April 28 2013

Conference Venue:
Program in Cultures, Civilizations and Ideas, Bilkent University
Ankara, Turkey

From Kant’s seminal essay “What is Enlightenment?” through the manifold critical responses of the twentieth century, the ambiguity of a term designating both a paradigmatic approach to human thought or autonomy, and a specific historical period, remains. How distinct is the concept of Enlightenment from the era of European history long taken to have discovered or invented it? This symposium proposes an examination of Enlightenments in the plural, welcoming both revisionary accounts of the Age of Enlightenment and explorations of Enlightenment in other times and places.

With an eye to translating the idea of Enlightenment, scholars have traced its many national and regional varieties. Discussions of an Ionian or an Athenian Enlightenment, of movements of Enlightenment in the medieval caliphate or the Ottoman Empire, share the contemporary intellectual landscape with debates on the continuing relevance of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment to the current global order. We are interested in the way the term has been borrowed and translated, creating a constellation of “Enlightenments” bound together by family resemblances. Is there still a singular project of Enlightenment (i.e. the critique of received ideas and inherited values, in particular religious ones; the promotion of rational or empirical methods; the creation of cosmopolitan and secular spaces), or has the term broken out of its historical mold to designate a more fluid set of cultural projects and practices? Where do we stand today with regard to the Enlightenment? After all, the continuation of a politics and practice of Enlightenment may depend on the spatial and temporal translations we propose to explore. Such displacements give new life to the idea of Enlightenment, even as the term is contested, criticized and transformed.

Topics of interest include:

Ionian / Athenian Enlightenment
Secularism, materialism, the immanent frame
Literatures of Worldliness in East and West: Renaissance, Tanzimat, Arab and
Near Eastern Enlightenments
Orientalism and Occidentalism
Diplomacy, correspondence, the figure of the court philosopher
What is Enlightenment: Kant, Foucault and beyond
(The) Enlightenment in the Americas
The public and the private: cross-cultural studies of an Enlightenment distinction
Travel literature, satire, and utopian fiction
Nineteenth century national Enlightenments, nationalism vs. internationalism
Enlightenment and Empire
The rhetoric of Enlightenment in geopolitics, the claims of the West
Material culture, exchange, circulation, accumulation, dispersal
Enlightenment and its others: mysticism, hermeticism and the arcane
The metaphorics of Enlightenment: illumination, dawn, twilight and dusk
Where do we stand today with regard to (the) Enlightenment?
Critical theory / social and political practice

Submission of Abstracts

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words to by
December 1, 2012.

The Program in Cultures, Civilizations and Ideas at Bilkent University is an
interdisciplinary humanities program focusing on Comparative Literature, Classics and Philosophy. We teach the university’s core courses in the humanities as well as the bi-yearly Bilkent undergraduate “honors seminars” and other elective courses in our respective fields of specialization. Our program began in 1999 as part of an initiative on the part of the university administration to craft a more global curriculum and to foster greater dialogue between cultures and disciplines. We are proud to host the Alternative Enlightenments Conference, 26-28 April 2013 in Ankara.

For more information or to ask questions, please contact

Reminder: TASA conference Early Bird Registration closes tomorrow, October 5th

If you haven’t registered yet for the upcoming TASA conference make sure you get in before tomorrow when Early Bird Registration closes.

The Annual TASA Conference 2012

Emerging and Enduring Inequalities

The University of Queensland, Brisbane

26th – 29th November 2012

The Conference 2012 will be a joint event including both TASA and the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (SAANZ), including a special trans-Tasman plenary session.

Registration Information

Registration charges

Please note: registration charges for members applies to TASA and SAANZ members, along with members of the BSA, the ASA and the SAI.


TASA / SAANZ members

Non members

Early bird (closes Fri 5th Oct.) $580 $690
Standard $680 $790
Graduate students $325 $400
Undergraduate / Honours students $250 $250
Day registration $350 $450
Health Day registration $80  
Student Health Day registration $40  

Click here to register

Also make sure you register for the Postgrad Day, Health Day and Social Events to make the most of your conference experience!

Looking forward to seeing you all there 🙂

ISA members: Call for topic suggestions for the RC on the Sociology of Communication, Knowledge and Culture for the 18th World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

The XVIII International Sociology Associations (ISA) World Congress of Sociology on Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for Global Sociology will be held in Yokohama, Japan from July 13-19, 2014.

The Research Committee on the Sociology of Communication, Knowledge and Culture(RC14) is currently proposing work topics for the congress. The following is a call for suggestions from Committee members (to become a member use the ISA membership registration form available on  Dues: $40 for a 4-year period)

The pressure exerted by important mobilized sectors of society has allowed the opening of a wide spectrum in which legality and legitimacy for the reversion of inequality is based: from human rights to public policies for equalization, Sociology is obliged to recognize the existing links among basic social demands, the requirement for the establishment of human rights, the enforceability of these rights, social empowerment and the building of new forms of citizenship.

Communication, Knowledge and Culture are at the heart of the inequality problem: human beings understand their existence, rights and needs in the way their culture and the existing knowledge possibilities explain these issues to them and in the way the media (old and new) vehicle the social “reality”. For these reasons, RC 14 might propose for the 18th World Congress of Sociology a general work theme:

Culture and Communication in the Contemporary (Unequal) World

Many sessions (and joint sessions, as this issue concerns so many dimensions of contemporary life such as politics, education, ethnic relations, health…) could be proposed in relation with this general topic.

Please send your propositions to:

 There will be A Call for Papers open to the public early next year.

Impressions on Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life Symposium by Dennis Foster

Supporting the Symposium on Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life recently held at Flinders University allowed us to fund PhD candidate Dennis Foster to attend the event. Here Dennis reflects on his experience of the event and shares some of what he took away from the presentations.

The idea of attending a symposium celebrating the centenary of Durkheim’s last major work, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life was both exciting and daunting. It was exciting because Durkheim’s sociological conceptualizations the ‘sacred’ and ‘totems’ are important influences in my PhD studies. It was also exciting because some of the scholars I have been reading in the context of cultural sociology and the sociology of art were also attending and presenting papers. On the other hand, I felt a little daunted by the possibility that I may find myself among a tiny group of Durkheimian specialists intent on hyper-erudite discussions of the sacred text. In truth, I was worried that as a relative newcomer to the primary sources of Durkheim’s works (in English) I may be left way behind. I shouldn’t have worried.

From the first paper, Natalie Doyle’s Durkheim, Secularisation and the Contemporary Debate on Islam, it was clear that I was indeed among scholars who were not only very familiar with The Elementary Forms,  but also Durkheim’s oeuvre. I was awed by the breadth and depth of analysis and ideas that Natalie brought together: Durkheim, Gauchet (sadly not yet in English), Mavelli, Castoriadis, Alexander and Bell. After only one paper I had a heap of new authors to explore! As well as setting the tone of serious scholarship, Natalie Doyle’s delivery of her paper set the tone of good humour, collegiality, and professional candour. It was an eye-opening experience for me to be amongst established scholars who were delivering ‘work in progress’ papers exploring new ideas or applying familiar ones to new contexts. It was similarly informative to hear the discussion and question time after papers. There was no nit-picking or point-scoring. Comments and questions, at least to this novice, appeared thoughtful, positive and helpfully critical.

As far as the overall content of the symposium is concerned, two keynote addresses and nine papers were delivered. While some papers touched on issues closer to my immediate preoccupations, all papers were interesting, informative, challenging and worthwhile. I will try and give a flavour of the content of the symposium by presenting a few idiosyncratically selected quotes from my notes. The quotes may well be old news to other scholars, but for me, they are signposts pointing me to key ideas that I need to follow up. Taken together, however, I think they may also offer a good impression of the breadth of scholarship presented at the symposium. With apologies to presenters and authors for any misquotations or mis-attributions, as well as to those presenters I haven’t quoted, here are my signposts

  • ‘the most common sociological understanding of Islam in the West remains founded on Weber’; ‘religion is a vehicle for modern autonomy’; ‘myth of individual autonomy of the biological subject’ (Natalie Doyle)
  • ‘Totem = a material expression of something social’; Baudrillard’s comment: ‘there is no escape from simulacria’ (David Holmes)
  • ‘objective, subjective and absolute spirit of Hegel’; ‘social precedes the individual’; ‘social imaginary’ Ricoeur – Castoriadis; ‘collective representation’ Durkheim  (Suzi Adams)
  • ‘I can only be an individualist in the context of a social community’ (Karl Smith)
  • Elementary Forms separates the sacred from the ordinary’, ‘in sacred experiences we are transported into a different world’, ‘collective effervescence -Durkheim; ‘liminal states/communitas’ Victor Turner (Eduardo de la Fuente)

I am conscious that these snippets do not do adequate justice to the depth of scholarship represented in the thoughtful papers presented at the symposium. I also fear that they may misrepresent what presenters were saying. That was not my intention. On the other hand, I have to say that I learned a lot at the symposium. I have also brought a rich store of ideas home with me that will enrich my studies and my thesis. These are good indicators of a successful symposium.

 The informative and thought provoking symposium presented by the TASA Cultural Sociology Thematic Group suggests that a century after its first publication, Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life still inspires the imaginations of scholars of the social foundations of human experience.

Dennis Foster is a PhD candidate at the University of New England. His research investigates socially mediated processes by which pieces of music take on personal meaning. More broadly his research interests focus on interdisciplinary understandings of the ongoing role of music in human experience within the context of a sociology of the arts. Dennis’ interests include mechanisms by which embodied responses can be maintained within sociological understandings of music, cultural sociology and the ‘iconic turn’, music sociology, music psychology, and aesthetics of the arts.