Seminars for 2013/14
10 November 2011: ‘The Political Situation’ (Departmental Seminar Series)
Dr. Andrew Barry from University of Oxford
At 16:00 in Ivor Crew .
My aim in this paper is to develop an analysis of a particular form of political situation in which public disagreements about what was known or how it came to be known have played a critical part. Political situations of this kind are common enough historically, and arguably increasingly so. The controversy concerning the existence of weapons of mass destruction that preceded the Iraq War of 2003 was just such a political situation. The debates surrounding the causes of the financial crisis of 2007-8, the ‘climategate’ controversy surrounding the work of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and its links to the negotiations at the UN conference on climate change in 2009, and the question of whether global oil production has reached a peak and will not fall, are other examples. One reason for using the term situation rather than more common term controversy is that the notion of situation conveys a sense of the indeterminacy of what the bounds and significance of what any particular controversy or problem is. Situations are not necessarily well defined controversies at all, located or confined in space and time. Situations may demand our attention for a time, but we aren’t necessarily sure, or don’t necessarily agree, about their significance. Situations may become intensely important for some, but not for others. Situations matter, but we don’t always know why they matter.
Andrew Barry is Reader in Geography at Oxford University and author of Political Machines: Governing a Technological Society.
This event is open to the general public.
Further information can be found at: http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/staff/abarry.html
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