CFP: What Things Are and What Things Do – deadline 30th April

CfP for the event ‘What things are, and what things do’, Friday 27th May 2pm – 8pm

Keynes Library & Birkbeck Cinema, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square

Research students and post-docs are invited to submit papers for a BIRMAC sponsored interdisciplinary seminar, programmed to debate and discuss the role of ‘structuring structures’ in society, – thinking beyond human agency.

Applicants are asked to respond to the following question: how do complexes of structures – systems and technologies of production, circulation, affiliation and definition – determine culture narratives and shape the way we understand, interpret, act and communicate in everyday life?

What things are, and what things do hopes to foster opportunities for engagement in alternative modes of discourse. By encouraging interdisciplinary practitioners to come together discuss and debate the thematic considerations, it is hoped that novel dialogues and interpretations will emerge. To this end we have invited two speakers, Dr Emily Barge and Dr Maan Barua, both of whom are working across disciplines.

What things are refers to material structures and their affordances: as city planning is to free movement; as media technologies are to broadcast; as hardware is to software, code and communities.

What things do refers to the sociological, affective and soft cultural consequences of infrastructure; all of which relate to power.

Dr Emily Barge: Emily is a writer and researcher based in London. She has a PhD from the RCA, where she is currently a visiting lecturer. She contributes to esse arts + opinions and teaches occasionally at Kingston University and Christie’s Education, London.

Dr Maan Barua: Maan is a Research and Teaching Fellow at Sommerville College, Oxford. His research interests include cultural geography, postcolonial environmental history and political ecologies of biodiversity conservation. His doctoral research was on ‘The Political Ecology of Human-Elephant Relationships in India’ and his current postdoctoral research focuses on the fields of human and environmental geography. His current research engages with political economies of nature through ‘more-than-human’ perspectives.


Submissions from researchers working across the spectrum of humanities, social sciences and beyond are welcomed. Presentations can take any format deliverable via the facilities available in the Keynes Library, and should be around 20 minutes in length. Should you have any specific AV requirements please state them in your proposal so they can be arranged.

The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception, and an evening film screening of Dog Day Afternoon (d. Sidney Lumet, 1975).

If interested, please send your 250 word abstract by 30th April to – we will have informed the applicants by 4th May.

Organisers: Hannah Barton & Güneş Tavmen (Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies)