PhD Work in Progress 2018

We’d like to invite all NICA PhD members for our ‘Work in Progress’ meeting on Friday, June 15, 2018 (all further details to be announced). The idea is simply for PhD researchers to share a sample of their own work in progress, with joint discussion and feedback to follow. Feel free to present work that’s genuinely in process: fledgling, under way, unfinished, partial, fragmentary, patchy, stuck.

Also, you may choose to take on board (or indeed decline to take on board) either or both of the following perspectives:

— Reflection on the unfinished/in progress-aspect of your work: what questions, choices, and options are you still considering? What’s at stake for those? What possible trajectories do you see fanning out from the yet incomplete state of your work? Are there aspects of your current work that seem to resist or decline progress?

— Reflection on how your work practices, nuances, updates, modifies, interrupts, repudiates, or negates methodologies that belong to the field of Cultural Studies/Cultural Analysis. How do our established ways of working work out for you and your project, and how are you ‘working’ them?

If you’d like to take this opportunity to present your work (factor in twenty minutes-presentations per participant), please drop us a quick line before June 4 at Give us a rough indication of what you’d like to talk about so we can try to assemble meaningful combinations and sequences. If you have further questions, please get in touch through the same email address.

We hope to catch up with you on June 15,
Eloe and Murat

Gina Dent: The Idea of Africa

16 May 2018
Masterclass and Lecture Gina Dent


Scholar and organizer Gina Dent will give a masterclass at the University of Amsterdam called The Idea of Africa (May 16). Besides a masterclass, she will present from her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke University Press) in a lecture at the Black Archives (May 16) and participate in Public Dialogue: Radical Solidarity and Intergenerational Coalitions at the Tropenmuseum (May 13) as part of the program Moving Together: Activism, Art and Education– A Week with Angela Davis. 

Gina Dent (Ph.D., English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.  She served previously as Director of the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research and as Principal Investigator for the UC Multicampus Research Group on Transnationalizing Justice.  She is the editor of Black Popular Culture([1993] New York: The New Press, 1998) and author of articles on race, feminism, popular culture, and visual art. Her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropologyis a study of the consequences—both disabling and productive—of social science’s role in translating black writers into American literature.  Her current project grows out of her work as an advocate for human rights and prison abolition—Prison as a Border and Other Essays, on popular culture and the conditions of knowledge.  She has offered courses in critical race studies and black feminisms in Brazil (Universidade Federal da Bahia), Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Sweden (Linköping University) and lectures widely on these and other subjects. In June 2011, she was a member of a delegation of indigenous and women of color feminists to Palestine and speaks often from that experience.

Masterclass – The Idea of Africa

Time: 11:00 – 14:00
Location: University of Amsterdam, REC Roeterseiland, Building B, Room B 3.03, Third Floor

This masterclass —the title of which is taken from V.Y. Mudimbe’s classic text of the same name—will focus on the epistemological consequences of anthropology’s role in producing an idea of Africa and responses to the legacies of slavery and colonialism in African-American popular history and memoir.

Readings include (in order of reading):

Sally Falk Moore, “Changing Perspectives on a Changing Africa: The Work of Anthropology” from Robert H. Bates, V.Y. Mudimbe, and Jean O’Barr, eds., Africa and the Disciplines: The Contributions of Research in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities, pp. 3-40.

V.Y. Mudimbe, “Introduction,” “Discourse of Power and Knowledge of Otherness,” and “E. W. Blyden’s Legacy and Questions” from Invention of Africa, pp. ix-xii, 1-23, 98-134.

Wilson Jeremiah Moses, “Introduction” and “Varieties of Black Historicism: Issues of Antimodernism and ‘Presentism’” from Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History, pp. 1-43.

Saidiya Hartman, from “Introduction,” “Afrotopia,” and “Lose Your Mother” from Lose Your Mother.

Optional: Rosalind Shaw, “Introduction” and “Chapter One: The Atlanticizing of Sierra Leone” from Memories of the Slave Trade, pp. 1-45

 Open to: MA and RMA students, PhD students, faculty, and people with reading experience in Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Critical Race Studies, African American Studies, Feminist Theory and/or Africana Studies. There are 5 spots for BA students with demonstrable interest in the topic.

Credits: RMA students can acquire 1 EC if they attend both the lecture and masterclass and complete all the preparatory readings.

Requirements: Participants are required to read and prepare all the readings before coming to the masterclass. The readings will be distributed about two weeks before the masterclass.

Registration: nica-fgw@uva.nlBA students are requested to write a short motivation.
NOTE: NICA members will have first access.


Lecture – Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology


Time: 16 May, 19:00 – 21:00
Location: Black Archives

In her lecture, Dent will present from her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke UP). The lecture examines questions of race, gender and geopolitics in the translation of black writers into American literature. With a specific focus on the productive and disabling role of the social sciences, anthropology in particular, in this act of translation, the lecture provides insight into black culture in the Diaspora and the conditions of knowledge production.

Registration Lecture: Tickets for the lecture can be reserved via the Black Archives –

We acknowledge with gratitude the support of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis, the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis Research Group: Transformations of Civil Disobedience: Democratization, Globalization, Digitalization and the Black Archives.


The Energy Commons, with Ashley Dawson and Jeff Diamanti

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Time: 17:00-19:00
Location: SPUI25, Spui 25, Amsterdam,

The climate crisis is, above all, an energy emergency. The energy sector is responsible for at least two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions. The world is growing increasingly hungry for power, and so carbon emissions continue to rise despite every effort to rein them in. All too often, however, questions of energy policy are treated as purely economic or technological issues. Although renewable energy production has certainly been increasing, it has not been growing fast enough to displace fossil fuels, and it will not do so without decisive political action to shift the world towards a just transition. The struggle for democratic control over energy production, distribution, and use is consequently a key front in the fight for a better, sustainable world. In order to make this power shift, we need to stop thinking of energy as a commodity and instead conceive of it as part of the global commons, a vital element in the great stock of air, water, plants, and collectively created cultural forms like music and language that have traditionally been regarded as the inheritance of humanity as a whole.

This event brings together two internationally-renowned researchers to discuss energy politics and the struggle for a just transition to renewable energy. Professor Ashley Dawson (Princeton Environmental Institute) will present his new book project entitled The Energy Commons. Professor Dawson will be joined by Dr. Jeff Diamanti (University of Amsterdam), for a discussion and critical reflection on the political, cultural, ethical and technological dimensions to current energy policy and practice.

This event is organised by the ASCA Cities Project ( To register, please visit

Ashley Dawson: Can New York Be Saved?

Can New York Be Saved? The Urban Condition during the Anthropocene”
Masterclass with Ashley Dawson (Princeton Environmental Institute)

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Time: 10:00-12:00
Location: University Library (Potgieterzaal), Singel 425

During this masterclass, we will discuss the challenge that climate change represents for cities riven by social inequality. If planetary urbanization can be seen as driven by neoliberal globalization and by the need to find sinks for accumulated capital, what role do urban designers and planners have in coping with capitalist irrationalities such as rampant coastal development? Taking New York City as a paradigmatic example, this masterclass explores the question of the urban condition in the Anthropocene Age. If the urban communities that will face the gravest threats are those already coping with entrenched forms of economic, social, and environmental injustice, what role do urban movements for just adaptation have to play in an era of climate chaos? And how can such movements best challenge the disasters brought on by a capitalist system run amok?

Required Reading

Davis, Mike. “Who will build the ark?” New Left Review 61 (2010): 10–25.
Dawson, Ashley, “Rapid Adaptation and Mitigation Planning” (forthcoming article).

Politics of Boredom

20-21 September 2018, University of Amsterdam
Organized by Aylin Kuryel, Adam Gisborne, Helen Weeres

Call for Papers

Confirmed keynote speakers
Mieke Bal (University of Amsterdam)
Michael E. Gardiner (University of Western Ontario)

The white suburban middle class housewives of the 1950s and 60s, confined to the home, were overcome with a strong sense of boredom. The punk youth of the 70s, with no prospect on a future, but with a fiery desire to reject, shouted “London’s burning with boredom” in unison with the Clash song. In the 2000s, the Apple factory claimed that the workers in China committed suicide “out of boredom”, even though their working conditions were “just fine.” The phones produced by these workers began to be considered the remedy eliminating boredom in their users. Boredom is a pervasive experience and theories about its causes and symptoms are as numerous as they are diverse.

In psychology, for instance, boredom has often been seen as resulting from a lack of stimuli and being stuck in routines, as a case that can be “treated” scientifically. It has been studied in various contexts, including the home, the factory, the university and the military. In philosophy and sociology, boredom is associated, at times, with depression, loneliness, and lack of inspiration. At other times, it is associated with artistic creativity or the will to venture out into new experiences and practices. Furthermore, boredom has been widely discussed as a defining feature of modernity and the modern urban experience, no longer confined to the lives of the rich with their abundance of leisure time. More recently, boredom has been revisited as one of the manifestations of marginalization and precarization in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Such diverse interpretations reveal the productivity and versatility of boredom as a conceptual framework to unpack social critique. The workshop Politics of Boredom attempts to approach boredom as a travelling concept across different fields and contexts, aiming for an interdisciplinary analysis including media, feminist and literary studies, and affect and political theory. One of the aims of this workshop is to explore the cultural, political and affective environments that boredom is situated in and distributed accordingly. Another goal is to ask whether boredom may also trigger reorganizations of everyday life: Can it work as a collective force for creativity? Can it be an affective entry point to build new political subjectivities?

We invite papers and artistic projects that can help us to better understand different manifestations of boredom and to critically examine how we conceptualize it. Themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Different conceptions of boredom in history
  • Boredom as a gendered, classed, racialized, sexualized, and/or affective state
  • Critiques of boredom and the critical potential of boredom
  • Boredom as counter-revolutionary
  • Economies of boredom – its relation to production, consumption and leisure time
  • Boredom as a luxury or as a symptom of precarization
  • Aesthetics of boredom: visual, literary, filmic, musical treatments of boredom
  • Boredom in relation to theories of anxiety, community and/or everyday life
  • Boredom in literature, literary boredom, boring literature

Participants are welcome to submit formal academic-style papers or to experiment with the form of presentation. We also welcome artistic responses to be displayed alongside the workshop. The workshop will be held in English. Please email an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biographical note (100 words maximum) to by May 20, 2018.


University of Amsterdam
Literary and Cultural Analysis Department