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TCD/UCD Public Lecture Series 2012-2013

The Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), in collaboration with University College Dublin (UCD) and the Policy Institute at TCD, has initiated a series of public lectures in which internationally acclaimed speakers will discuss contemporary sociological issues. The aim of this TCD-UCD Sociology Public Lecture Series is to promote informed and non-partisan debate and to offer new ideas on cutting-edge sociological issues including but not limited to responses to the current crisis. It provides a platform to deepen research and teaching synergies between TCD and UCD especially in light of HEA’s policy ‘Towards a Future Higher Education Landscape’. The series features two public lectures per term with one event hosted at TCD and the other at UCD.

Upcoming Speakers

Inaugural Lecture

Title: Expulsions: The Fifth Circle of Hell
Speaker: Professor Saskia Sassen (Columbia University and LSE)
Date and time: 15 January 2013, 7 pm
Venue: Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building

Opening Addresses by Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost of TCD and Dr Brian Nolan, Principal of the College of Human Sciences at UCD. Following the lecture there will be a panel discussion chaired by Prof Mary Corcoran of National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM).

Video recording can be accessed here.

AbstractSaskia Sassen

In the last two decades there has been a sharp growth in the numbers of people that have been ‘expelled’, numbers far larger than the newly ‘incorporated’ middle classes of countries such as India and China. I use the term ‘expulsion’ to describe a diversity of conditions: the growing numbers of the abjectly poor, of the displaced in poor countries who are warehoused in formal and informal refugee camps, of the minoritized and persecuted in rich countries who are warehoused in prisons, of workers whose bodies are destroyed on the job and rendered useless at far too young an age, able-bodied surplus populations warehoused in ghettoes and slums. One major trend is the repositioning of what had been framed as sovereign territory, a complex conditions, into land for sale on the global market – land in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Central Asia and in Latin America to be bought by rich investors and rich governments to grow food, to access underground water tables, and to access minerals and metals. My argument is that these diverse and many other kindred developments amount to a logic of expulsion, signaling a deeper systemic transformation in advanced capitalism, one documented in bits and pieces but not quite narrated as an overarching dynamic that is taking us into a new phase of global capitalism. The talk is based on the author’s forthcoming book Expulsions.


Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University ( Her recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2008), A Sociology of Globalization (W.W.Norton 2007), and the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2012). Among older books is The Global City (Princeton University Press 1991/2001). Her books are translated into over 20 languages. Currently she is working on Ungoverned Territories (Harvard University Press). She is the recipient of diverse awards and mentions, ranging from multiple doctor honoris causa to named lectures and being selected as one of the 100 Top Global Thinkers of 2011 by Foreign Policy Magazine.

Second Event

Title: Live Sociology: Social Research and its Futures
Speaker: Professor Les Back (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Date and time: 13th February 2013, 7pm
Venue: J M Synge Theatre, Arts Building

Video recording can be accessed here.


Les Back

This lecture draws on recent debates about empirical sociology’s methodological crisis that results from the emergence of sophisticated information-based capitalism and digital culture. Researchers face the challenge of “newly coordinated social reality” in which social relations and interconnections exist across time and space. However, this challenge co-exists with an unprecedented opportunity to use digital multi-media to re-imagine the craft of social research. In the face of these challenges it is argued that sociological craft needs to be invigorated by a renewed focus on its political purpose. Digital culture offers researchers the opportunity to develop new methodological devices. This vision is contrasted with a critique of dead sociology that is characterised as objectifying, comfortable, disengaged and parochial. The article argues for a live sociology, able to attend to the fleeting, distributed, multiple and sensory aspects of sociality through research techniques that are mobile, sensuous and operate from multiple vantage points. If researchers enact reality rather than simply reflect it, there is an opportunity to create sociological forms of representation that are more knowing and innovative.


Les Back is a Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work attempts to create a sensuous or live sociology committed to new modes of sociological writing and representation. His books include: Cultural Sociology: An Introduction with Andy Bennett, Lauar Desfor Edles, Margaret Gibson, David Inglis, Ronalds Jacobs and Ian Woodward (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); The Art of Listening (Berg 2007), Auditory Cultures Reader with Michael Bull Berg (2003), Out of Witnesses with Vron Ware, University of Chicago (2002); The Changing Face of Football: Racism and Multiculture in the English Soccer, with Tim Crabbe and John Solomos (Berg 2001);New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: Racisms and Multiculture in Young Lives (University College Press, 1996). In 2011 he published a free on-line book called Academic Diary that argues for the values of scholarship and teaching. He also writes journalism and has made documentary films.

Third Event

Title: Trust and Violence
Speaker: Jan Philipp Reemtsma (Hamburg Institute of Social Research)
Date and time: 22nd May 2013, 6pm
Venue: Newman House, St Stephen's Green

Video recording can be accessed here.


Jan Reemtsma

In his book Trust and Violence Jan Phillip Reemtsma argues that the idea that violence is abnormal is an illusion and that attempts to contain violence informed by this perspective are misguided. In order to understand violence and its place in modernity, he asserts, we must grasp its relationship to trust. Consensus about when and where violence is prohibited or sanctioned is an essential element of our concept of normality and the basis for trust. In his lecture, Reemtsma will examine the »fuzzy« concept of trust, how it relates to mistrust and confidence, and what occurs when trust—especially modernity’s trust in its ability to allow only legitimate violence—is disappointed.


Jan Philipp Reemtsma is professor of modern German literature at the University of Hamburg and founder and director of the Hamburg Institute of Social Research. Of his many books on literature, history, politics, philosophy, and contemporary society, two have been published in English--More Than a Champion: The Style of Muhammad Ali (Vintage) and In the Cellar (Knopf).

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