INTERDISCIPLINARY WORKSHOP: ‘The Politics of Popular Culture: life beyond the theory/practice divide’ University of Lapland, Pyhätunturi, 26-27 November 2011

Registration deadline: 30th August 2011

This two-day interdisciplinary workshop will take place in the wake of the Popular Culture and World Politics 4 conference (University of Lapland, Finland, 23-25 November 2011

The aim of the workshop is to dissolve conceptual relations between theories and practices of popular culture. The relation between theory and practice has traditionally been posed in the form of a question. It is often asked how culture is entangled with political thought and practice. How might political and cultural theory inform political and cultural practice, and vice versa? Should these two realms be considered separate? In contrast this workshop starts from the assumption that there is no mediation between theory and practice. In theorizing popular culture we are concerned with new ways of conceptualising the 'popular', or ‘the common’ that determines the content of a people whose very production is at stake in the theory and practice of popular culture. Because the contestation and articulation of the common is the very practice of politics, so the theory/practice of popular culture is quite simply, “people-production”.

This founding assumption has implications for the ways in which we might think about the political potential of theory. It also dissolves traditional divisions of labour between social scientists, artists and cultural producers. We hope to solicit papers and presentations that explore the politics of popular culture through a variety of modes of expression – academic, artistic and anything in-between. The format of the presentation is entirely free. Although the focus of the workshop is on the politics of popular culture, one of our key aims is to explore the creative potential of our own work, and to find and explore new ways of expression and collaboration across the arts and sciences.


The academic programme consists of talks by three cutting edge scholars whose work engages the theory/practice axis in politics and cultural studies, as well as presentations by workshop participants (for instance academic papers, video, photography, performance). These presentations will be followed by general discussion and comments from the keynoters and course organizers.

On the first day we will focus on contemporary debates on the relationship between new political movements and cultural theory with a particular focus on dance music and radical consumption (Lectures by Jeremy Gilbert and Jo Littler). This theme will be followed on the second day by more general discussions of the politics of arts and popular culture (lecture by Geoffrey Whitehall) and of the multiple and mobile roles and positions that we as academics, artists and cultural producers might assume in this context.


The maximum number of students for this workshop is 12. In addition to postgraduate research students from Politics and IR we encourage participation from the full range of other fields, including the arts, philosophy and culture.

To register for this workshop, please send a short description (max. 300 words) of yourself and of your possible contribution to the workshop organizers Laura Junka-Aikio ( and Professor Julian Reid ( The deadline for the workshop registration is August 31st, 2011
. Submission deadline for the actual papers (if your presentation includes one) is November 11th,.2011.


The workshop takes place in a large log house (Hakakero cottage) in Pyhätunturi fell resort ( In addition to providing a relaxed space for the academic programme, this venue will serve as accommodation, and there will also be a small party on Saturday evening. The aim is to encourage a friendly, relaxed and inspiring atmosphere and to make sure that all participants (including the organizers and the invited lecturers) have a chance to get to know one another. The collective nature of the workshop will encourage the formation of new research and collaborations.


The workshop is free but we expect all participants to contribute 40 euros for accommodation and to cover their own meals and travel costs to Pyhätunturi. Invited lecturers and lecture topics:

1) Dr. Jeremy Gilbert (Reader in Cultural Studies School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of East London, U.K.).
Lecture title: Dance Music, Culture and the Politics of Sound

Jeremy is the author of Anticapitalism and Culture: Popular Politics and Radical Theory (2008, Berg) and the co-author of Discographies: Dance Music, Culture and the Politics of Sound and Cultural Capitalism: Politics After New Labour. He is also one of the keynote speakers for the Popular Culture and World Politics IV conference. Jeremy’s personal website can be found at

2) Dr. Jo Littler (Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, School of Arts and Education, University of Middlesex, UK).
Lecture title: Radical Consumption: shopping for change in contemporary culture

Joe is the author of Radical Consumption: Shopping for Change in Contemporary Culture (Open University Press, 2009) and co-editor of The Politics of Heritage: The Legacies of ‘Race’ (Routledge , 2005, with Roshi Naidoo). Jo’s personal website can be found at:

3) Dr. Geoffrey Whitehall (Associate Professor, Department of Politics. Acadia University, Canada).
Lecture title: TBC

Geoffrey is the author of numerous articles on the aesthetics of international politics and on the politics of popular culture, including ‘Musical Modulations of Political Thought: Amplifying difference beyond the grammar of sovereignty’ in Theory and Event Vol 9 no. 2, 2006 and ‘The Aesthetic Emergence of the Avian Flu effect’ in Debrix & Lacy eds. Geopolitics of American Insecurity: Terror, Power and Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2009). Geoffrey’s personal website is at:

The workshop is funded and organised by:
-University of Lapland, department of Politics and International Relations
-POLITU Graduate School in Political Studies (
-Academy of Finland research project 'The Biopolitics of Development' (Prof. Julian Reid, University of Lapland)