Public Lecture Series 2013: Triviality is More Oppressive than Tyranny

Starts: Monday 11 March 2013 7:00 pm
Ends: Monday 11 March 2013 9:00 pm
Event type Public Lecture
Location Main Auditorium, Eastern Gateway Building
Tyranny seems so out of place today – but what about the tyranny of triviality and the triviality of restrictions imposed by tyrants?

Chair: Professor Andreas Kortenkamp
Speakers: Dany Nobus, Matthew Hughes, Mark Neocleous, Will Self

We all abhor the thought of living under tyranny. It seems that the days of the great tyrants of the past have gone forever. Tyranny is clearly no longer as visible as it used to be, but it may nevertheless manifest itself in more insidious ways. Myriad decisions that affect all our lives are taken behind closed doors, far removed from us, with minimal chance of intervention and no accountability. Instead, genuine democratic participation is trivialised in TV debates about irrelevant issues, and we are bombarded daily with triviality, from royal weddings and pregnancies, to ubiquitous celebrity and make-over programmes. And then there is the all-pervading internet with the trivialisation of understanding by search engines, or the trivialisation of human relationships through internet dating. Have our modern Western societies created surplus attention, and is that attention directed towards the trivial? What about the cumulative triviality of the restrictions on what people can eat and where they can live or move that characterises the tyranny of imperial and neo-imperial military occupations? The four lectures of the evening take a critical look at the relationship between triviality and tyranny today.

Speaker profiles

Dany Nobus

Professor Dany Nobus is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Development and External Relations, and Chair of Psychology and Psychoanalysis in the School of Social Sciences at Brunel University, where he also directs the MA Programme in Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society.

He is the author, most recently, of Knowing Nothing, Staying Stupid: Elements for a Psychoanalytic Epistemology, and has published numerous articles, book chapters and reports in various academic and professional journals.

Professor Nobus' research interests centre around issues of clinical psychoanalytic work, with a special emphasis on technical matters, and epistemological debates concerning the development, acquisition and transmission of knowledge. He has also done research on the dynamics of human sexuality, including theoretical studies of the concept of perversion and empirical research on priests who sexually abuse children. His current research activities focus on the theoretical and socio-cultural representations of non-normative sexual behaviours, and the effect of changing representations of fatherhood in Western society on parenting strategies and socialisation practices.

He is currently at work on a book entitled Deathbound Sexualities, in which he challenges the common idea that human sexuality is a life-sustaining force in the service of the reproduction of the species or the affirmation of self-identity.

Matthew Hughes

Professor Hughes studied Geography and History as an undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and International Relations as a postgraduate at the London School of Economics. He completed his ESRC-funded PhD in 1995 under the supervision of Professor Brian Holden Reid in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London on the topic of the First World War in Palestine. He also has a PGCE in History from Cardiff University.

After a spell as an intern with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Professor Hughes lectured at the universities of Northampton and Salford before coming to Brunel University in 2005 as a Senior Lecturer. Professor Hughes has been a British Academy funded visiting fellow at the American University in Cairo, the American University in Beirut and at Tel Aviv University. He spent two years as the Marine Corps University Foundation-funded Maj-Gen Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair in Military Theory at the US Marine Corps University, Quantico, 2008-10. His work at Quantico led to a set of publications in journals such as Journal of Military History and Small Wars and Insurgencies on the Anglo-American experience of dealing with civilians in combat zones. He followed this up with a major, funded international conference on British ‘ways’ in counter-insurgency, held in London at Senate House in September 2011.

He is currently working on the British use of force in suppressing colonial rebellion, particularly in Palestine in the 1930s. His next book is an edited volume for Routledge entitled British Ways of Counter-insurgency: A Historical Perspective, out in June 2013.

Mark Neocleous

Mark is Professor of the Critique of Political Economy at Brunel University, and a member of the Editorial Collective of Radical Philosophy.

Mark’s writings have moved between questions of state power, the nature of fascism, the constitution of social order and the political imagination. On the one hand, this has involved an exploration of the mechanisms for managing capitalist modernity through the logic of ‘police’ and ‘security’, and the relationship between this logic and reactionary shifts in political order. On the other hand, it has also involved the nature of the political imaginary: how the state has been imagined through categories associated with human subjectivity, how enemies have been imagined as monstrous, and how we imagine our political relationship with the dead.

His current research is towards the possibility of a counter-strategic thinking. This sets up a challenge to both liberalism and international law through a rethinking of the categories of war and peace, and seeks to give a critical edge to the concept of ‘pacification’.

His work has been translated into several languages.

Will Self

Will Self is Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel, and together with Dr Joel Anderson he teaches an undergraduate module in Psychogeography - the first in the world. He is the author of 20 books: nine novels, five collections of shorter fiction, and six collections of essays and journalism. His fiction has received the Aga Khan Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Prize and the Bollinger Wodehouse Prize, and has been shortlisted for both the Whitbread Prize and the Mann Booker.

A prolific journalist, he has contributed to a plethora of publications both in the UK and Abroad, including The Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The London Review of Books, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Le Monde and Coriere del Sera inter alia. A regular broadcaster on television and radio, he is a panellist on BBC1's Question Time and presents Radio 4's A Point of View.


Page last updated: Monday 28 January 2013