The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London

Leave a comment

Goldsmiths Annual Philosophy Lectures 2023: Bruno Bosteels (Columbia), 6 and 8 June 2023; online

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought cordially invites you to the

Goldsmiths Annual Philosophy Lectures 2023

Bruno Bosteels (Columbia)

Part 1

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

3:00-5:30 pm BST, online

Join Zoom Meeting

The State and Insurrection

Respondent: Camila Vergara (Politics, Cambridge) 

Over the past decades, politics has taken a clear insurrectionary turn. Long before the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Left too had begun identifying its momentum with various popular uprisings and insurrectionary movements. An updated version of Lenin’s classic text therefore could be titled The State and Insurrection, insofar as the focus on the takeover of state power has become a thing of the past for the radical Left. In Europe, for example, this trend had been growing ever since the events of 1968, while in Latin America the declining power and electoral defeats of the Pink Tide governments contributed to a similar exhaustion of state-oriented politics. The result in both cases, however, is an extreme impoverishment in the theory of the state—long considered a major lacuna in classical Marxism and nowadays for the most part replaced with a vague libertarian consensus against the cold monster of the state.

Facebook event page for Pt. 1

Part 2

Thursday, 8 June 2023

3:00-5:30 pm BST, online

Join Zoom Meeting

Marx in Mexico, Mexico in Marx

Respondent: Andrés Saenz de Sicilia (Central Saint Martins) 

Among the so-called peripheries of the capitalist body, Marx always had a special interest in Mexico. While his and especially Engels’s support for the US invasion of Mexico long overshadowed this part of his investigations, the late Marx would devote some of his most fascinating Ethnological Notebooks to the interpretation of precapitalist economic formations and kinship structures among the Aztecs. In fact, long before he would copy and annotate the chapter on “The Aztec Confederacy” from Lewis H. Morgan’s 1877 Ancient Society, already in the 1850s William H. Prescott’s The Conquest of Mexico had given him access to the notion of the calpulli, which forms the basis for a long underground history of communal revolts, all the way to Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution. Marx thus provides us with the materials for an alternative history and theory of the commune, independently of the 1871 Paris Commune.

Facebook event page for Pt. 2


Bruno Bosteels is professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, USA. His research covers a wide range of topics in literature, culture and politics in modern Latin America as well as contemporary philosophy and political theory. He is currently preparing two new books, the first a sustained polemical engagement with contemporary post-Heideggerian thought, titled Philosophies of Defeat: The Jargon of Finitude (Verso), and the other, its utopian counterpart, The Mexican Commune (Duke). A collection of essays is forthcoming under the title The State and Insurrection: New Interventions in Latin American Marxist Theory (Pittsburgh). 

Camila Vergara is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Cambridge and the author of Systemic Corruption. Constitutional Ideas for an Anti-Oligarchic Republic (Princeton University Press 2020).  

Andrés Saenz de Sicilia is a British-Mexican philosopher and artist who teaches at Central Saint Martins. He has published widely on social and political philosophy in addition to leading socially engaged research projects and collaborations.

Leave a comment

CPCT Spring 2022-23 research seminar “Translating Global Critical Theory” –  The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Translating He-Yin Zhen (24 Feb)

A conversation with Rebecca E. Karl and Lydia H. Liu

24 February 2023

5:30-7:00pm GMT

Zoom Link:

He-Yin Zhen (1886-1920?) was a theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism. Unlike her contemporaries, she was concerned less with China’s fate as a nation and more with the relationship among patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism, and gender subjugation as global historical problems. The Birth of Chinese Feminism (ed. & transl. Lydia Liu, Dorothy Ko, Rebecca Karl; Columbia UP 2013) is the first translation and study of He-Yin’s work in English. It critically reconstructs early twentieth-century feminist thought in a transnational context by juxtaposing He-Yin Zhen’s writing against works by two better-known male interlocutors of her time. He-Yin Zhen complicates conventional accounts of feminism and China’s history, offering original perspectives on sex, gender, labor and power that remain relevant today. The seminar will take the form of a dialogue with Rebecca Karl and Lydia Liu on He-Yin Zhen’s theoretical work, its intellectual and historical context, and the challenges of translation.

Rebecca E. Karl teaches History at New York University. Her most recent book is China’s Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History (Verso 2020). She is co-founder of the Critical China Scholars collective and founding co-editor of the website,  

Lydia H. Liu is Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She is the author of The Freudian Robot (2010), The Clash of Empires (2004), and Translingual Practice (1995). Her new book Global Language Justice (co-edited) will be published by Columbia University Press in Fall 2023.

Leave a comment

PUBLICATION: Special issue of Paragraph 45.3 (2022) on Derrida’s Geschlecht III

The latest issue of Paragraph 45.3 (2022), ed. Julia Ng, is now out and features articles that originated in papers delivered at the conference “Sex, Race, Nation, Humanity: Derrida’s Geschlecht III” that took place on April 8–9, 2019 at CPCT (

Here is the abstract of the issue’s introduction, co-authored by Julia Ng and entitled “Tender Violence, Coercive Simplicity, Geschlecht III: An Introduction”:

“This introduction to the special issue asks, in the company of Jacques Derrida’s recently ‘rediscovered’ seminar Geschlecht III, what it might mean to read this text against the grain of everything that is said in the German word Geschlecht, including the gesture of having made an archival discovery and its attendant enforcements of recovered origins, philological-genealogical authority, familial unity and consonance of signification. It reflects on how returning to Heidegger gives Derrida the opportunity to take stock of the risks and structural inequities inherent in texts and their legacies, and from which Heidegger retreats in the very instances he insists on his own attention to textual and philosophical idiomaticity. We explore how, for Derrida, Heidegger is indebted to a tradition of thinking sameness in difference that coerces conciliation in the name of achieving a ‘tender duality’ between pairs. With Derrida, we argue that Heidegger’s thinking on the two-in-need-of-compromise conceals a violence of domination or subordination to the gentle tones of simplicity and gathering. We ask, finally, what it means to specify (domestic, racial, anthropocentric) unicity as ‘good’ and what this implies for reading archives and legacies once we understand such specification as a form of coercion and violence.”

For the full TOC, see

Leave a comment

CPCT Spring 2022-23 research seminar “Translating Global Critical Theory” –  Reflections on Translating Arab Marxism (18 Jan)

Wednesday, January 18– 5:30-7 pm GMT

Hicham Safieddine and Angela Giordani – Reflections on Translating Arab Marxism

Arab Marxist Mahdi Amel (1936-1987) applied class analysis during the era of national liberation to themes like sectarianism, political Islam, orientalism, culture and revolution, and the relationship of cultural heritage to modernity. His anti-colonial framing of capitalism in a colonial context sought to produce a new Marxist methodology. His work, which has been translated to English for the first time, challenges contemporary readings of leftist histories that are postmodern, liberal or Eurocentric. In this session we will discuss the volume Arab Marxism and National Liberation: Selected Writings of Mahdi Amel with its editor and translator and explore the relation of Amel’s thinking and writing to broader trends in Arab Marxism and critical theory.

Hicham Safieddine is Assistant Professor of History at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the political economy of finance and the intellectual history of modern Arab and Islamic thought. He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2019) and editor of Arab Marxism and National Liberation: Selected Writings of Mahdi Amel ; Trans. Angela Giordani (Brill, 2021).

Angela Giordani is a historian of the modern Arab world with diverse interests in Islamic and global intellectual history. She holds a PhD in History (Columbia 2021) and is completing a book manuscript titled Scions of Ibn Sina: Arab Humanists and Islamic Philosophy in the Twentieth Century Currently, she is teaching modern Middle Eastern history at Smith College.

Zoom URL:

Leave a comment

CPCT Seminar Series 22/23: Translating Global Critical Theory

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought is pleased to announce the theme of this year’s Seminar Series: “Translating Global Critical Theory”

There are 3 seminars scheduled for the Autumn term (and more to follow in Spring):

26th Oct 5pm: Sora Han – Translation in Black

16th Nov 5pm: Hicham Safieddine and Angela Giordani – Reflections on Translating Arab Marxism

8th Dec 5pm: Ken Kawashima and Gavin Walker – Theory & Crisis: Translating Marxism in Japan

All seminars take place online via zoom. Free and open to the public, as always. Convened by Alberto Toscano (a.toscano [at]

For the individual sessions and zoom links please visit

Leave a comment

CFP: The Critique of Violence from the 1920s to the 2020s, Northwestern U [deadline: 10 April 2022]

Call for Papers
The Critique of Violence from the 1920s to the 2020s

The Department of German, the Program in Comparative Literary Studies, and the Critical Theory Program at Northwestern University invite graduate students and early career researchers to participate in a colloquium in response to the publication of the new translation and critical edition of Walter Benjamin’s 1921 essay, “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” (Toward the Critique of Violence) recently published by Stanford University Press.  The colloquium welcomes explorations on any topic related to Benjamin’s essay or the additional writings gathered in the volume—those by Benjamin and as well as those by Hermann Cohen, Kurt Hiller, Erich Unger, Georges Sorel, and Emil Lederer.  In addition to giving brief accounts of how the new edition of “Toward the Critique of Violence” changes our understanding of Benjamin’s contribution to political theory, the two editors of the volume, Peter Fenves and Julia Ng, will respond to the presentations. 

The colloquium will take place on May 23, 2022 at Northwestern University.  Those interested in participating should send an abstract (approx. 250 words) for a 15-minute presentation to Jörg Kreienbrock ( by April 10th. All participants will receive a copy of Toward the Critique of Violence: A Critical Edition in preparation for their presentation and a modest honorarium. Participants will be responsible for their own accommodation and travel expenses. As noted above, the range of topics is entirely open; but it is expected that some of the presentations will be concerned with the political, cultural, and philosophical conditions of the 1920s in and beyond the European circumstances that come under discussion in Benjamin’s essay, while other presentations will be more concerned with present situations; still others may be directed far afield from both the 1920s and the 2020s as well as the European focus through which Benjamin explicitly frames his analysis and implicitly punctures as well.  The texts collected into Toward the Critique of Violence intersect with a wide variety of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines, and the colloquium welcomes proposals that reflect the breadth of Benjamin’s essay and its associated writings.  

We will aim to notify participants of their acceptance by April 15th.

Send your submissions to:

For further information, please contact:

Leave a comment

CFP: Experiencing Visual Images – Interdisciplinary Approaches (AHRC LAHP and UCL, 11 Nov 2022 [deadline: 8 Apr 2022])

© 2022 James Turrell Studio Files
Title: Breathing Light (2013)

CPCT graduate affiliate Federica Murè would like to invite submissions to “Experiencing Visual Images – Interdisciplinary Approaches,” a conference supported by the AHRC LAHP consortium and open to PGR students and early career researchers. Submission deadline: 8 April 2022. For more information please contact

Experiencing Visual Images: Interdisciplinary Approaches

Call for Papers

University College London, 11 November 2022 (provisional)

It is now widely recognised that the relentless (re)production of visuality, a distinct feature of our digital age, has increasingly problematised the status of the image and the gaze. This has prompted a growing need for research across the academy into the complex question of how we see and experience so much visual information and the impact this has on our ability to think with and through images. 

In the field of neuroscience, the underlying neural mechanisms of visual perception are known to be complex and remain incompletely understood.  From a philosophical point of view, scholarship in image studies has asked compelling questions on the demarcation between mere images and art images, demonstrating how the progressive reduction of the world to image has compromised our ability to conceptualise this point of difference. Meanwhile, historians of art, science and literature (to name only three historical sub-fields) stress the cultural specificity of visual perception, exploring how the gaze and the experience of seeing visual images was configured in past societies. Finally, contemporary visual artists have pioneered the creation of visual art through historically marginalised gazes. This sustained and wide-ranging interest in the visual, all of which points towards its profound richness and complexity, indicates the need for critical engagement and collaboration across disciplines, in order to develop new approaches to the image and to deepen our understanding of its shifting ontological status and the consequences this yields on the configurations of our gaze.

Contributions are therefore invited to a one-day conference that seeks to explore the possible intersections between scientific, philosophical, historical and artistic approaches to understanding the gaze and the image. We hope to foster constructive communication across traditionally drawn disciplinary boundaries in order to enrich our understanding of how the complex processes of experiencing visual images can be interpreted in a wide range of historical and cultural contexts. 

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

– The emotional gaze: psychological effects of seeing visual images

– Diversifying the gaze: neurodivergent visual perception

– The science of seeing: cognitive and neural mechanisms of visual perception (historical, cutting-edge theories)

– Reconstructing historical gazes: past experiences of seeing

– Metaphysics of seeing: looking at, looking through visual images (philosophical, religious approaches) 

– The disordered gaze: visual perception and illness (e.g., schizophrenia, stroke)

– Decolonising the gaze: non-Western experiences of seeing

– Queering the gaze: queer experiences of seeing

– Visual sociology

– Image and neuroaesthetics 

– Image and ethics

– Moving Images

Short (10-minute) papers from PGR students and ECRs working in all disciplines (Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences) are welcomed. 

Please send abstracts of up to 250 words (as well as any enquiries) to by Friday April 8th.

Conference organisers

Genevieve Caulfield – PhD candidate, UCL Department of History

Federica Mure – PhD candidate, Goldsmiths Department of English and Creative Writing

This conference is sponsored by the London Art and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)

Leave a comment

Friends of CPCT—”What is Global Critical Theory?” Research Seminar 2021-22, new location (#BoycottGoldsmiths)

Dear friends of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought,

In response to the ongoing efforts by senior management at Goldsmiths to push through redundancies and restructuring across academic and professional staff – a process that will have a particularly devastating effect on one of the CPCT’s host departments, English and Creative Writing, Goldsmiths UCU has called for a BOYCOTT/GREY-LISTING of Goldsmiths to put external pressure on the university administration, which has hitherto ignored or dismissed protests and alternative proposals from staff to what will be a hugely damaging process, at both a collective and individual level.

In order not to lose the intellectual community we’ve sought to build through our Research Seminar (“What is Global Critical Theory?”), we have accordingly decided to take our seminar out of Goldsmiths and run it in a purely personal capacity. Until further notice, THIS IS NOT A MEETING OF THE CPCT AT GOLDSMITHS. We will host our meetings via Alberto Toscano’s Zoom account at his other institution, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. We also hope to use some of our meetings to keep you posted about the campaign at Goldsmiths and any ongoing solidarity actions.

With best wishes,

Alberto, Julia and Vikki

New registration link:


Open Letter to Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths:

For a detailed session plan including further readings and links to PDFS, please visit

Leave a comment

CPCT Research Seminar 2021-22: What is Global Critical Theory?

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought is pleased to announce the theme of this year’s Research Seminar: “What is Global Critical Theory?”

The history of critical theory is one of migration and displacement of ideas – of travelling and exiled theory – but to date it has all too often been written as a story of the afterlife of the European Enlightenment. There is a growing research interest in the global reach of critical theory but its emphasis has often been skewed towards the applicability of ideas to local contexts, or to regional and area studies of specific social and political phenomena. This seminar seeks to begin to pose the problem of a ‘global critical theory’ by undertaking a series of soundings of conceptual debates emerging in different locales and conjunctures that foreground the non-Western genesis of crucial problems of contemporary critical theory, as well as the situated problematisation of the forms of historical difference and unevenness that mark the travels of critical theory. The seminar will touch, inter alia, on Caribbean and Latin American debates on the short-circuits, ‘misencounters’ (desencuentros) and misplacements between critical concepts in Europe and the Americas, and their aesthetic figurations in the periodisation of the Baroque and the conceptual persona that is Caliban; explore the uptake by Levantine Marxist intellectuals of Said’s Orientalism; investigate the oft-overlooked contributions of Vietnamese philosophers Trần Đức Thảo to postwar phenomenology and deconstruction, and Nguyễn Khắc Viện to global Marxism; and inquire into the critical theories of fascism originating in interwar Japan. 

Free and open to the public, as always. Convened by Alberto Toscano (a.toscano [at] and Julia Ng ( [at]

Register here:

For a detailed session plan including further readings and links to PDFS, please visit

Leave a comment

Goldsmiths Undergraduate Philosophy Circle 2021-22

Theme ’21-’22: Thinking through Nature & the Climate Crisis with
Non-Western Philosophies

The Goldsmiths Undergraduate Philosophy Circle is open to all Goldsmiths students interested in reading and discussing philosophical texts together. 

The first two terms will be devoted to exploring key readings on this year’s topic, while the third term will be reserved for participants to self-organise an event related to the theme. The format of the meetings is an open discussion for around 2 hours with a break in the middle. The discussion is usually introduced by a volunteer who speaks on the text and the author for around 5-10 minutes. Conceived as an informal gathering, everyone should feel free to contribute as much as they like.

To join the group and receive the materials in advance (shared via Google Drive), please email

Meetings: on Fridays, 4-6pm; 3 x Autumn Term; 4 x Spring Term (see dates below)

Location: TBD

Convenor: Svenja Bromberg (Lecturer in Sociology), s.bromberg [at]

For more information, please visit