Futures of Critique in a Pluricentric World


A British Academy conference exploring horizons and methods of a critical theory for the 21st century

Venue: Stewart House 2/3, Senate House London
Dates: 12 and 13 July, 2024 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm BST

Taking as its premise the notion that critical languages move multi-directionally between a plurality of centres rather than disseminate from a single, metropolitan axis of power, this conference considers the emergences, conflicts, suppressions, adaptations and mutations of concepts that take place at a distance from the loci traditionally associated with critical theory—metropolitan Europe, North America. The speakers explore, inter alia, cases of conceptual cross-pollinations across worlds and histories beyond the “Global North”; and the influence, facilitated by variously colonial and imperial conditions of linguistic and philosophical translation, of concepts from the “Global South” on the development of critical theory. Broadly construing critical theory to include not only Frankfurt School Critical Theory but also feminist and gender theory, eco-criticism, psychoanalysis, and postcolonial and decolonial theory among others, the conference will have a dual aim: (i) to frame critical theory as a productively unstable entity that retains intelligible markers of its origins in sociopolitical and epistemological “crises”; and (ii) “map” the historical and contemporary diversity of critical keywords, their translations, and the tools they provide us for articulating the emancipatory potentials of vocabularies be they indigenous, hybrid, or global.

Free and open to the public, though registration is required. To register, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/futures-of-critique-in-a-pluricentric-world-tickets-805233253337.

This event is the third of three associated with Dr. Julia Ng’s British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship project Daoism and Capitalism: Early Critical Theory and the Global South (MCFSS23\230039). Thanks also go to the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought ** and Royal Holloway’s Centre for Continental Philosophy for their generous support.

** N.B. Due to the UCU boycott of Goldsmiths and in solidarity with the staff who are currently at risk of redundancy due to the restructure planned by Goldsmiths’ management, this conference has been moved from campus to an alternative location and dissociated from Goldsmiths. We thank you for your understanding and support.


(For updates and more information, including abstracts, please visit: https://daoismandcapitalism.wordpress.com/2024/06/10/public-event-3-futures-of-critique-in-a-pluricentric-world-july-12-and-13-2024/.)

Friday, 12 July 2024

10:00 Welcome and Introductory remarks — Julia Ng

10:15-11:25 Pang Laikwan (Chinese University Hong Kong) — Sovereign Logic, Decolonial Politics, and The Problematic Logic of Unity

11:30-12:40 Julia Ng — Critical Space-Times

12:40-2:00 Lunch break

2:00-3:10 Carlos Oliva Mendoza (UNAM) — Critique, Baroque, and Capital

3:15-4:25 Nadia Bou Ali (American University Beirut) — Critique and Scansion

4:30-5:40 Dilip M. Menon (Witwatersrand) — After Decoloniality

Saturday, 13 July 2024

10:00-11:10 Hourya Bentouhami (Toulouse) — tbc

11:15-12:25 Sumi Madhok (LSE) — tbc

12:30-1:30 Concluding roundtable / Q&A



Hourya Bentouhami is a French-Moroccan Associate Professor of Philosophy at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and a member of the Institut Universitaire de France. Her work on political philosophy and phenomenology focuses on the sensorial dynamics of racialization and gender assignment and on forms of economic dispossession as well as on the ways of disobeying them to create new forms of seeing and feeling in a livable world.

Nadia Bou Ali is Associate Professor and Director of the Critical Humanities for the Liberal Arts (CHLA) at the American University of Beirut. She is the author of Hall of Mirrors: Psychoanalysis and the Love of Arabic (Edinburgh University Press, 2020). She is co-editor (with Rohit Goel) of Lacan contra Foucault: Subjectivity, Sex, Politics (Bloomsbury 2018) and of Extimacies: Encounters Between Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (co-edited with Surti Singh), forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. She is also editing the first English translation of Mehdi Amel’s Theoretical Prolegomenon on the Impact of Socialist Thought in the National Liberation Movement: On Contradiction and The Colonial Mode of Production for Brill’s Historical Materialism Book Series. Nadia is a practicing analyst and member of The Lacan School, Bay Area, San Francisco.

Sumi Madhok is Professor of Political Theory and Gender Studies and Head of the Department of Gender Studies at LSE. Her work combines critical theory and ethnographic approaches with a focus on South Asia and is interested in social sciences focused on epistemic interventions from the Global South. Her latest book is Vernacular Rights Cultures: The Politics of Origins, Human Rights and Gendered Struggle for Justice (Cambridge, 2021), winner of the 2022 Susan Strange book award.

Dilip M Menon is a Professor of History and International Relations and the Director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of Witwatersrand. He is primarily a social historian of South Asia concerned with questions of caste and inequality. For the past decade he has been concerned with epistemologies from the global south and oceanic histories, and this has resulted in a series of edited volumes on capitalism, oceans, concepts, and cinema. A recent interview with Professor Menon can be found here: https://brill.com/view/journals/phen/8/4/article-p375_3.xml.

Carlos Oliva Mendoza is a writer and a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s (UNAM) Faculty of Philosophy of Letters, as well as a member of the National System of Researchers (SNI). Among other recognitions, he is the recipient of the International Narrative Award, Siglo XII; the National Award for Young Essay; and the National Award for Literary Essay. He is lead for the research projects “Critical Theory in Latin America” and “Baroque Modernity and Mexican Thought.” His latest published books are Cine mexicano y filosofíaEspacio y capital and Semiótica y capitalismo.

Pang Laikwan is Choh-Ming Li Professor of Cultural and Religious Studies and Chairperson of the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at Chinese University Hong Kong. Her research spans a broad spectrum of issues related to culture in Modern and Contemporary China and Hong Kong. Her central philosophical project is the exploration of the dynamics between “many” and “one,” manifested in the intersections between culture and politics, copies and models, plurality and unity, as well as democracy and sovereignty. She is the author of a few books, and her scholarship has been recognized internationally. Her books received American Library Association (ALA) Choice 2020 Outstanding Academic Title and Chiang King-Kuo Foundation Publication Award. She herself also received the Discovery International Award offered by Australia Research Council, Research Excellence Award as well as Young Research Award by The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Julia Ng is Reader in Critical Theory and founding Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London. She specialises in philosophical approaches to literature, modern German-Jewish thought, early 20th-century Germanophone literatures in their transnational contexts, and history of critical theory. Recent publications include her translation and critical edition of Walter Benjamin’s “Toward the Critique of Violence” (with P. Fenves; Stanford UP, 2021) and articles in Theory Culture & SocietyParagraphCR: New Centennial ReviewModern Language Notesdiacritics, and Critical Times. Funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, she is currently completing a book on Daoism and Capitalism, which has also received support from the Leverhulme Trust, the Center for Jewish History (NYC), and the British Society for the History of Philosophy.