.

News and Events 2015/16

Religion, Gender and Sexualities One-Day Conference

Friday 1st July 2016, 10.00-16.30, Cadbury Room, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

An inaugural event to celebrate the formation of the “Gender, Sexualities and the Body” and “Religion, Ethnicity and Nationhood” research streams.

Dr Katy Pilcher and Dr Sarah-Jane Page are excited to announce that the programme has been realised for their one-day conference entitled Religion, Gender and Sexualities, taking place in the Cadbury Room on Friday 1st July.

"We were inundated with abstracts, and we have presenters attending from across the UK, as well as further afield. Please see the event’s programme attached – if you would like to come for the full day, we do have a number of places available (lunch and refreshments will be included). Please email Katy and myself by next Wednesday if you would like to join us, letting us know of any dietary requirements. Alternatively, please feel free to dip in and out of any sessions that are of particular interest. We do hope you can join us."


Download the full programme HERE.



Problematising Citizenship: Protest and the Contested Civic Sphere

CCISC Seminar. 29th June, 13.00-17.00

In the wake of a series of major terrorist attacks and the post-2008 crisis of late capitalism, western liberal democratic states have increasingly sought to redefine the nature and conditions of inclusion and participation in the civic sphere. This seminar discusses how social movement campaigns have sought to challenge and re-articulate this reduction of democratic space, and problematizes the development of discourses of citizenship, and the meanings, ideas and boundary-marking practices that underpin them.

In the first session, we discuss the articulation of citizenship within the 'movements of the squares' in southern Europe. The political economy of fiscal austerity has not only radically reduced the public sphere through the 'structural reform' of public services and welfare regimes, but further entrenched the 'post-democratic' dynamic of European representative democracies which privileges corporate power over collective public participation in decision-making. In this context, we discuss how the notion of the 'citizen' has developed as a central figure in indignados movements, and what it means for the potential of a new democratic settlement.

In the second session, we examine spaces, modes and practices of contestation over the boundaries of civic membership. Recent studies have problematized the binary definition of citizenship and noncitizenship, suggesting that such a definition between citizenship (as inclusion) and noncitizenship (as simply the negation of citizenship) fails to capture the complex contours of inclusion and exclusion which shape contemporary societies. This session draws on this work to raise critical questions for how we understand the practice of political participation in relation to those excluded or marginalised by regimes of citizenship.
Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives from migration studies, social movement studies, critical policy studies and political theory, the seminar aims to explore how categories of citizenship are constructed and operationalised, and how dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, citizenship and noncitizenship, create spaces and silences of political participation.

To read the full programme for this event, please click the expandable panel below.

Refreshments available: 13.00 – 13.30

Session 1:  13.30 - 14.45
Citizenship, and the movements for 'real democracy' in southern Europe

Chair: Graeme Hayes (Aston)

Paulo Gerbaudo (Kings, London): The Indignant Citizen: From the Politics of Autonomy to the Politics of Radical Citizenship
One of the most significant features of Southern European anti-austerity movements of the Indignados in Spain and the Aganaktismenoi in Greece is what has sometimes been described as ‘citizenism’, the radical recuperation of the idea of citizenship as a central feature of movement discourse and claim-making. This trend has been seen in repeated references to the citizens and the citizenry as the subject mobilised in the protest, as well as in demands for a restoration and expansion of citizenship rights put forward by popular assemblies and in the manifestos of key protest organisations. On the one hand, citizenship discourse has acted as a source of collective identity, unifying a variety of economic grievances produced by the financial crisis (indebtedness, unemployment, labour precariety) around the inclusive subject position of the citizen, or better of the ‘aggrieved citizen’, that is, a citizen who feels deprived of citizenship rights. On the other hand, citizenship has provides a unifying framework of claim-making, focusing on the project of ‘opening up’ the State through new forms of direct democracy. Anti-austerity movements have thus departed from both autonomous movements, who wanted to position themselves completely ‘outside and against the state’, and the social democratic tradition that aimed to ‘conquer the state’. Protesters have put forward an anti-oligarchic view of citizenship that aims at re-asserting the power of the dispersed citizens against the concentrated force of economic and political elites, and overcoming the limits of representative democracy through an extension of popular participation in decision-making.

Cristina Flesher Fominaya (Aberdeen): We are the 99%? Problematizing the construction of ‘citizen’ as political collective identity
The wave of anti-austerity and pro-democracy movements that swept the globe since 2011 have shared a number of key features, among them the tactic of occupation as protest and the framing of the political subject as ‘ordinary citizen’. The frame of ‘ordinary citizen’ (the 99%, the ‘people’ or the ‘pueblo’) as collective political actor has been very effective in calling political and economic elites to account for their policies on behalf of the 1% (or the ‘caste’ in the case of Spain). This frame has been crucial in resignifying the public squares as political agoras and heterotopic spaces that represent a participatory alternative to representative democracy. In this talk I will explore the effectiveness of this framing but also problematize it, drawing on examples from Spain's 15-M movement.


Refreshments available 14.45 - 15.00


Session 15.00 – 16.15
Chair: Katie Tonkiss (Aston)

Heather Johnson (Queens, Belfast): These Fine Lines: Locating Noncitizenship in Political Protest in Europe
Since 2012, refugee protest camps and occupations have been established throughout Europe that contest the exclusion of refugees and asylum seekers, but that also make concrete demands for better living conditions and basic rights. It is a movement that is led by migrants as noncitizens, and so reveals new ways of thinking of the political agency and status of noncitizenship not as simply reactive to an absence of citizenship, but as a powerful and transgressive subjectivity in its own right. This paper argues that we should resist collapsing analysis back into the frameworks of citizenship, and instead be attentive to the politics of presence and solidarity manifest in these protest camps as a way of understanding, and engaging, noncitizen activism.

Amanda Beattie (Aston): Mobility Trauma and the 2012 Family Immigration Rules: Attending to the Need for Unorthodox Agency
There is, I believe, a trauma that emerges from within the lived experience of mobility politics. The denial of mobility rights, as enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Protocol No. 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, leading to the separation of families, friends and communities in the most basic iteration of mobility trauma. How might scholars of politics and international relations attend to this experience helping those who experience mobility trauma, especially when it is a traumatic experience prompted by the state and its institutions? This article suggests, and defends the assertion, that in order to attend, and negotiate, this trauma, traditional discourses of moral agency will fail. Cosmopolitan and communitarian iterations of agency, I contend, reinforce situations of partial or full exile instead of helping the disposed and disenfranchised to regain a sense of power and autonomy in the world. I turn to a narrative framing of the political, and mobility politics therein, in order to interrogate this experience. I propose to the reader that within the discourse of psychotherapy, and narrative therapy in particular, there is an alternative mode of being political that can attend to mobility trauma.


Round Table 16.15-17.00
‘Citizenship’: An Outdated or Vital Paradigm?


Amanda Beattie, Pablo Calderon-Martinez, Cristina Flesher Fominaya, Paulo Gerbaudo, Graeme Hayes, Heather Johnson, Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, and Katie Tonkiss

This closing roundtable offers a critical engagement with the concept of citizenship. It debates key questions in the study of spaces and modes of political participation from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, with the aim of problematizing the extent to which the citizenship paradigm captures the lived realities of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary societies.



Call for Papers: Religion, Gender and Sexualities One-Day Conference

Friday 1st July 2016, 10.00-16.30

Aston University, Birmingham, UK

Guest speaker:
Dr Kristin Aune, Senior Research Fellow, Coventry University: “Feminist Spirituality as Lived Religion: How UK Feminists forge Religio-spiritual Lives”

To celebrate the formation of the Gender, Sexualities and the Body and the Religion, Ethnicity and Nationhood research streams within the Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture at Aston University, we are hosting a joint inaugural event. Entitled ‘Religion, Gender and Sexualities’, this one-day conference will explore the intersection of religion, gender and sexualities within everyday contexts. Scholarship has started to unpack these multi-faceted relationships, but this is still an emerging research area which requires further study and exploration. We welcome abstracts which address any element of this relationship and could include (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • Sexual practices and negotiations within religious environments
  • LGBTQIA experiences and religion
  • Sexuality support networks within religious communities
  • Singleness; celibacy
  • Gendered power negotiations in intimate relationships
  • Marital experiences
  • Commitment ceremonies (e.g. civil partnerships, marriage)
  • Parenthood/non-parenthood
  • Virginity
  • Monogamy/Polygamy/Polyamory
  • Embodiment and religion
  • Gender, sexual and religious identities in different contexts (e.g. the workplace, leisure)
  • Religious ritual, gender and sexuality

There will be no charge for speakers to attend this one-day event. Refreshments and lunch will be provided on the day. For delegates wishing to attend but not present, there will be a small charge for refreshments and lunch (£12).

Deadline for abstracts: May 27th 2016. Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Dr Sarah-Jane Page (s.page1@aston.ac.uk) and Dr Katy Pilcher (k.pilcher@aston.ac.uk).



Professional Development with Dr Anne Marie Trester

On 1 March 2016, Dr Anne Marie Trester will hold two interactive workshops:

  • Life After a Linguistics Degree: Career Paths and Professional Development (MB 549, 1-2pm)
  • The Language of LinkedIn: Interactional Sociolinguistics and Social Networking (MB 549, 3-4pm

See more here.



Linguistics Beyond Academia

On 3 March 2016, the founder of Career Linguist Dr Anne Marie Trester will speak at Aston University on the application of linguistic knowledge to professional contexts. Read more here. 



Midlands Youth Labour Market Forum

This event follows the first meeting of MYLMF at the University of Warwick in November 2015. The second meeting at Aston will bring together regional policy-makers, employers and representatives of organisations that work with and for young people and who are concerned about their transitions from education to employment.


Rethinking migration for a good society

Dr Katherine Tonkiss was invited to write a report for Compass, a left-leaning national think tank, on migration rights and social justice. Read it here.


‘Crevices Exposed: Blind Spots in Galician Textuality’

Dr Olga Castro has guest-edited the special issue ‘Crevices Exposed: Blind Spots in Galician Textuality’, together with Dr Maria Linheira, for the journal ‘Abriu: Estudos de textualidade de Galicia, Brasil e Portugal.’ Find it here.


Join the conversation - Syrian refugees

Dr Katherine Tonkiss, Dr Amanda Beattie and Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik will be hosting an event on the refugee crisis on 21 October. The discussion will ask whether or not the UK should be accepting more refugees from war-torn Syria. Further details can be found here.


French in Multilingual Urban Centres Conference at Aston University (Friday 12th – 13th June)

Emmanuelle Labeau is organising a two-day conference which will conclude a pilot study, French as Spoken in Brussels, funded by the British Academy. Click here to read more.


Professor Judith Baxter is giving a presentation entitled: ‘The Language of Women Leaders’ on Monday 16th March for the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Women in Business Conference. Click here to read more.


Erika Darics and Stephen Pihlaja are organising a networking event for PhD Students and early career researchers. Click here to read more.



Dr Katy Pilcher and Dr Olga Castro are welcoming all to join them for an informal discussion around the topic of: ‘Feminism in the Media and Media Sexism’. Click here to read more.



 The joint CCISC/ACE series of events in collaboration with the European Commission launches this week with ‘HEAR ME OUT’ an open-door event for young people. Click here to read more.


Professor Judith Baxter, Professor of Applied Linguistics at Aston University, has joined forces with the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) to launch the online series entitled ‘Using Language Effectively’. Click here to read more.

This event is being run by CCISC in partnership with the European Commission. The aim of the project is to engage young people from the Birmingham community using performances and open discussions to look at issues which affect them, primarily focusing on the impact of the European Union on their life chances. Click here to read more.

The global human capital research and advisory firm Cape Group are currently gathering input from leading practitioners and academics on cutting edge thinking and best practice in creating a more inclusive working environment for all employees. Click here to read more.

This seminar led by Dr. Urszula Clark, draws upon recent, Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) funded research into the relationship between English and social, regional and national identities. Click here to read more.

This expert workshop marks the offical launch of the British Academy Project 'French as spoken in Brussels', led by Dr Emmanuelle Labeau (Aston) in collaboration with Dr Anne Dister (unversite St Louis, Brussels), and Prof. Florence Lefeubvre (Paris 3 - Sorbonne Nouvelle). Click here to read more.

Launch of major EU Research Project investigating Social Innovation and Young People

CCISC, the Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture, invites you to the launch of CITISPYCE by Professor  Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor, Aston University, a  major EU research project into the changing terrain of social inequalities, and the existence of social innovation among young people in cities across Europe. Click here to read more.

Your Europe? Your Future?

CCISC, in partnership with the European Commission, launched the first in a series of 5 events entitled ‘Your Europe? Your Future?’ The event focused on unemployment in the EU and the prospects for new graduates in the labour market. Click here to read more.

How do local people feel about their neighbourhood, the city and changes faced by Birmingham? What do people think about poverty in the city and are we missing key issues by using mainstream definitions of deprivation? Click here to read more.

Regional varieties have become an important contributor to identity construction processes, and an increasingly important issue for the individual and the community in late Modernity: the individual is under constant and increasing pressure to define who s/he is and has to choose from an ever growing pool of possibilities to construct social identity in an increasingly globalized world, which is perceived as incomprehensibly complex. Click here to read more.

Why women's jokes fall flat in the boardroom

Professor Judith Baxter's research featured in the Guardian. Click here to read more.

By'eck, accents are thriving: Regional dialects are getting stronger as people aim to retain a sense of identity

Aston research featured in the Daily Mail. Click here to read more.