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events programme


Café Culture
For discussion and debate café style

All of the events for the Autumn Series are using a digital platform and are all free to watch.

To view a pdf poster for our current season, click here.


2 March 2021 café politique

Animals in the Anthropocene

Jo-Anne McArthur in conversation with Jeff Sebo

In this special opening event of the series, award-winning photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur will discuss her newly published book, HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene, an unflinching book of photography documenting our relationship with non-human animals in the 21st century. In discussion with philosopher Jeff Sebo, McArthur will consider the ethical, political and environmental consequences of the invisible animals in our lives: those with whom we have a close relationship and yet fail to see. They are the animals we eat and the animals we wear. They are the animals used in research and for entertainment, as well as the animals we sacrifice in the name of tradition and religion. How, in the face of our appalling contemporary practices, are we to create a future relationship with animals based upon a compassionate and humane co-existence?

Jo-Anne McArthur is an award-winning photographer, author, and sought-after speaker. Through her long-term body of work, We Animals, she has documented our complex relationship with animals around the globe. Since 1998, her work has taken her to over sixty countries. In 2019 she founded We Animals Media. McArthur’s latest book is HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene (We Animals Media, 2020), with co-editor Keith Wilson. weanimalsmedia.org / twitter.com/weanimals 

Jeff Sebo is Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Affiliated Professor of Bioethics, Medical Ethics and Philosophy, and Director of the Animal Studies M.A. Program at New York University. He is co-author of Chimpanzee Rights (Routledge, 2018) and Food, Animals, and the Environment (Routledge, 2018) and author of Animal Ethics in a Human World (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)..jeffsebo.net / twitter.com/jeffrsebo 

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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16 March 2021café Culturel

Life Lessons from Literature

Josh Cohen in conversation with Lars Iyer

From the truths and lies we tell about ourselves to the resonant creations of fiction, stories give shape and meaning to all our lives. In conversation with Lars Iyer, bestselling author of the Spurious trilogy, Josh Cohen, both a practicing psychoanalyst and a professor of literature, will explore the mutual echoes between the life struggles of the consulting room and the dramas of the novel and ask what the most memorable characters in literature might tell us about how to live meaningfully. 

Josh Cohen is Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London and a psychoanalyst in private practice. He is the author of books and articles on modern literature, cultural theory and psychoanalysis, including The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark and Not Working. His new book, How to Live, What To Do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature, was published this year by Ebury Press. 

Lars Iyer is the author of the critically acclaimed Spurious trilogy, as well as a Reader in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. His Latest book, Nietzsche and the Burbs, was published in 2020 by Melville House. https://twitter.com/utterlyspurious 

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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6 April 2021café Culturel

Human Fragility: From Ebola to Covid

Véronique Tadjo in conversation with Chiara Ricciardone

In her newly translated novel, In the Company of Men: The Ebola Tales, the acclaimed novelist, poet and artist Véronique Tadjo draws on real accounts of the Ebola outbreak that devastated West Africa to create a poignant, timely fable that reflects on both the strength and the fragility of life and humanity’s place in the world. Acutely relevant to our times in light of the coronavirus pandemic, In the Company of Men explores critical questions about how we cope with a global crisis and how we can combat fear and prejudice. Véronique Tadjo will be in conversation with writer Chiara Ricciardone. 

Véronique Tadjo is a writer, academic, artist and author. Born in Paris, she grew up in Abidjan (Côte d´Ivoire) where she attended local schools. She earned a B.A. in English from the University of Abidjan and a doctorate from the Sorbonne, Paris IV, in African American Literature and Civilization. In 1983, she went to Howard University in Washington, D.C. on a Fulbright research scholarship. Her latest novel, In the Company of Men: The Ebola Tales, was published this year by Hope Road. 

Chiara Ricciardone is a writer and political philosopher currently based at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. She holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from U.C. Berkeley and co-founded the Activist Graduate School. She is also U.S. Commissioning Editor for this journal. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, two young kids, and one expressive cat. https://www.chiararicciardone.net / https://twitter.com/becomingchiara

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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20 April 2021café philosophique

A Citizen’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence

Shannon Vallor and John Zerilli

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, has generated a staggering amount of hype in the past several years. Is it the game-changer it’s been cracked up to be? If so, how is it changing the game? How is it likely to affect us as customers, tenants, aspiring homeowners, students, educators, patients, clients, prison inmates, members of ethnic and sexual minorities, and voters in liberal democracies? This conversation between two leading philosophers of Artificial Intelligence will be of interest to anyone interested in understanding the moral, legal, political, and economic stakes of the use of AI systems in a connected human world increasingly, though often unwittingly, entangled in such technologies.

Shannon Vallor is the Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Futures Institute, where she was also appointed as Professor in Philosophy. Her research explores the philosophy and ethics of emerging science and technologies. shannonvallor.net / twitter.com/ShannonVallor 

John Zerilli is a philosopher with particular interests in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and the law. He is currently a Leverhulme Trust Fellow at the University of Oxford. His new book A Citizen’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence is published this year by MIT Press. lcfi.ac.uk/about/team/zerilli / twitter.com/johnzerilli

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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4 May 2021café scientifique

The Disordered Cosmos

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein in conversation with Adam Ferner

  Science has always played a crucial role in human activity, but now, as we contend with a global pandemic and the disastrous effects of climate catastrophe, science – hailed as a saviour, yet attacked for its commitment to evidence and observation – is part of the public discourse in a new and remarkable way. However, while we depend on science for much of our present, future, and ultimate survival, science is also rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. In this conversation with philosopher Adam Ferner, leading theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein will lead us on an exploration into the world of particle physics and the cosmos – all while making an urgent call for a more just and inclusive practice of science that expands our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Core Faculty in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is also a columnist for New Scientist and Physics World. Her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and particles beyond the standard model. She also conducts research in Black feminist science, technology, and society studies. cprescodweinstein.com/ twitter.com/IBJIYONGI 

Adam Ferner has worked in academic philosophy both in France and the UK, but much prefers working outside academia in youth centres and other alternative learning spaces. He has published widely in philosophical and popular journals and is currently writing his fifth book, Philosophical Empires, with Chris Meyns, forthcoming later this year. He is an associate editor of the Forum’s Essays, and a member of the Changelings, a North London fiction collaboration. adamferner.com      

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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18 May 2021café philosophique

Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice

Gregg Caruso in conversation with Leo Zaibert

Within the criminal justice system, one of the most prominent justifications for legal punishment is retributivism. The retributive justification of legal punishment maintains that wrongdoers have free will, and are thus morally responsible for their actions and deserve to be punished in proportion to their wrongdoing. Join two philosophers at the cutting edge of research into punishment and retribution. Gregg Caruso opposes retributivism, while Leo Zaibert defends it. Let’s see how it plays out!

Gregg D. Caruso is Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning and Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University. He is also the Co-Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network (JWRN) at the University of Aberdeen School of Law. His research interests include free will, agency, and responsibility (both moral and legal), as well as philosophy of mind, cognitive science, neuroethics, moral psychology, criminal law, punishment, and public policy. His latest book, Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice, is published this year by Cambridge University Press. greggcaruso.com / twitter.com/GreggDCaruso 

Leo Zaibert is William D. Williams Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Humanities at Union College. His work is focused on punishment, forgiveness, and related phenomena. His most recent book, Rethinking Punishment, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018, and has been the subject of several symposia and special journal issues – both in the United States and abroad. union.edu/philosophy/faculty-staff/leo-zaibert

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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1 June 2021café politique

Motherhood: A Manifesto

Eliane Glaser in conversation with Hephzibah Anderson

Our relationship with our children, as well as with our own mothers, is profound and psychologically resonant. In her soon-to-be-published manifesto, writer and academic Eliane Glaser calls for a new feminist motherhood – one that employs comradeship, tolerance, and acceptance. In this conversation with fellow writer Hephzibah Anderson, Glaser will argue that how we approach motherhood fundamentally needs to change: from adjustments so that mothers – fathers – can work school hours to addressing the isolation that so many working mothers feel when they go on maternity leave. We will only change the structure of work and increase fathers’ participation once we debunk prevailing myths about women alone being the rightful primary carers, and deconstruct the culture of childcare perfection.

Eliane Glaser is a writer, a BBC radio producer, and a Research Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She writes for the Guardian, Prospect, and the London Review of Books, among other places. Her new book, Motherhood: A Manifesto, is published in June by Harper Collins. elianeglaser.org / twitter.com/elianeglaser 

Hephzibah Anderson is a columnist at Prospect magazine, feature writer for BBC Culture, and Fiction Editor at the Mail on Sunday. Her interviews, cultural commentary and book reviews have appeared in outlets including the Observer, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, and the Washington Post. Her personal essays have featured in The Times, Vogue and ELLE. hephzibahanderson.com / twitter.com/hephzibaha

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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15 June 2021café politique

Justice in the Datafied Society

Lina Dencik in conversation with Mwenza Blell

Algorithms are here to stay, so how we can respond to the challenge of algorithmic injustice? Governments are increasingly using algorithms to make decisions that affect us all, with the UK’s exam result fiasco being one high profile case showing how the algorithms can serve to replicate discrimination and inequality. But the concerns are global and cut across healthcare, policing, immigration, child protection and more. 

In this conversation with Cafe Culture’s Mwenza Blell, media analyst and digital surveillance researcher Lina Dencik will explore the social and ethical questions raised by our increased reliance on algorithms in the most important areas of our lives. Does it matter who provides the technology? Who decides what data goes in, and when they are used? And do they have potential for good? 

Lina Dencik is Professor in Digital Communication and Society at Cardiff's School of Journalism, Media and Culture and Co-Founder/Director of the Data Justice Lab. Her research concerns the interplay between media developments and social and political change, with a particular focus on resistance, governance and the politics of data. Her latest book, the co-authored The Media Manifesto, was published last year by Polity. twitter.com/LinaDencik 

Mwenza Blell is currently a Rutherford Fellow affiliated to Health Data Research UK, a Newcastle University Academic Track Fellow, and a Grant Researcher at Tampere University. Her research draws from ethnography to examine intransigent and often invisible structures of injustice. twitter.com/Menzwa

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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5 July 2021café climatique

Dump Philosophy

Michael Marder in conversation with Sofia Lemos

In his recent book Dump Philosophy, Michael Marder argues that the earth, along with everything that lives and thinks on it, is at an advanced stage of being converted into a dump for industrial output and its by-products feeding consumerism and its excesses. Describing the dump’s fundamental characteristics and its effects on the body and the mind, Marder contemplates wider physiological, social, economic, and environmental metabolisms in the age of dumping, as well as the role of philosophy caught in its crosshairs. While surveying the devastation that is the reality of the twenty-first century, Marder provides a frightening and yet intellectually spellbinding glimpse of the future. He will be discussing some of these themes with curator, writer, and researcher Sofia Lemos.  

Michael Marder is Ikerbasque Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country. He is the author of numerous books, the latest of which is Dump Philosophy: A Phenomenology of Devastation, published in December by Bloomsbury. michaelmarder.org 

Sofia Lemos is a curator, writer, and researcher. She is Curator of Public Programmes and Research at Nottingham Contemporary and Associate Curator Public Programmes at the 2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art. She recently co-edited the reader METABOLIC RIFTS and a monograph Musa paradisiaca: Views on Misunderstanding. sofialemos.info

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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6 July 2021café climatique

A New Theory of the Earth

Thomas Nail in conversation with Dorion Sagan

Climate change and other ecological disruptions challenge us to reconsider the deep history of minerals, atmosphere, plants, and animals and to take a more process-oriented perspective that sees humanity as part of the larger cosmic and terrestrial drama of mobility and flow. This conversation between philosopher Thomas Nail and ecological theorist Dorion Sagan will urge us to rethink our ethical relationship to one another, the planet, and the cosmos at large.  

Thomas Nail is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver. His current work focuses on the influence of mobility in the 21st century and the philosophy of movement broadly. His research has had significant international influence and has been translated into eleven languages, read in more than 200 countries, and cited across more than 20 academic disciplines. His new book Theory of the Earth is published in April by Stanford University Press. philosophyofmovementblog.com / twitter.com/xThomas_Nail

Dorion Sagan is a celebrated writer, ecological philosopher, and author or co-author of twenty-five books, which have been translated into fifteen languages. As an ecological theorist he has been at the forefront of bringing our growing understanding of symbiosis as a major force in evolution into the intellectual mainstream, both within science and the humanities, and rethinking the human body as a “multispecies organism”. dorionsagan.wordpress.com

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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7 July 2021café climatique

Lessons from Plants

Beronda Montgomery in conversation with David George Haskell

We know that plants are important. They maintain the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They nourish other living organisms and supply psychological benefits to humans as well, improving our moods and beautifying the landscape around us. But plants don’t just passively provide. They also take action. In this conversation, molecular biologist Beronda Montgomery and award-winning nature writer David George Haskell will enter into the depth of botanic experience and show how we might improve human society by better appreciating not just what plants give us but also how they achieve their own purposes. What would it mean to learn from these organisms, to become more aware of our environments and to adapt to our own worlds by calling on perception and awareness? In short: What would a plant do?  

Beronda L. Montgomery is MSU Foundation Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology, she was named one of Cell’s 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America. Her new book Lessons from Plants is published in April by Harvard University Press. berondamontgomery.com / twitter.com/BerondaM

David George Haskell’s work integrates scientific, literary, and contemplative studies of the natural world. His latest book, The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors (2017), examines the many ways that trees and humans are connected. Haskell has also written about biology, ethics, and human culture for the New York Times and other publications. dghaskell.com/ twitter.com/dghaskell

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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8 July 2021café climatique

Sentient: The Sensory World of Animals

Jackie Higgins in conversation with Eva Meijer

We’re often described as “sentient” beings, but what does that word mean? Is it our ability to feel and experience the world? In other words, is it interchangeable with “consciousness”? Or does sentience more simply describe sensitivity, the ability of our eyes, nose, tongue, skin to sense our surroundings? This latter definition would make sentience the foundation on which the more elusive notions of experience and consciousness waver. Scientists debate whether animals experience consciousness but they readily ascribe sentience to them. So we can turn to the natural world to explore what we mean by human sentience.

Join documentary maker and writer Jackie Higgins on a journey through the sensory world of humans and other animals. In conversation with Eva Meijer, philosopher and author of Animal Languages, Higgins will tell the stories of a menagerie of animals to reveal how we humans sense and make sense of the world. In this way, the sensory powers that lie dormant within us will be revealed.

Jackie Higgins grew up by the sea in Cornwall and has always been fascinated by the natural world. She is a television documentary director and writer. She read zoology at Oxford University, as a student of Richard Dawkins. Across her career, she has directed numerous wildlife films and written three books on photography. Her new book Sentient: A Journey Through the Sensory Worlds of Humans and Other Animals will be published in June by Picador.

Eva Meijer is an artist and postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and the author of many books, including
Animal Languages and When Animals Speak, both published in 2019. evameijer.nl  / twitter.com/meijereva

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
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9 July 2021café climatique

Life in the Post-Human Landscape

Cal Flyn in conversation with Adam Weymouth

In Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster, only a handful of people returned to their dangerously irradiated homes. On an uninhabited Scottish island, feral cattle live entirely wild. In Detroit, once America’s fourth-largest city, entire streets of houses are falling in on themselves, looters slipping through otherwise silent neighbourhoods. In this conversation with writer Adam Weymouth, author and journalist Cal Flyn will explore the extraordinary places where humans no longer live – or survive in tiny, precarious numbers – to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind’s impact on nature is forced to stop. What happens after we’re gone, and how far can our damage to nature be undone? 

Cal Flyn is an award-winning writer from the Highlands of Scotland. She writes literary nonfiction and long form journalism. Her first book, Thicker Than Water, which explored questions of colonialism and intergenerational guilt, was a Times book of the year. Her new book, Islands of Abandonment – about the ecology and psychology of abandoned places – was published in January by HarperCollins. calflyn.com / twitter.com/calflyn

Adam Weymouth is a winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and the Lonely Planet Adventure Travel Book of the Year. His first book, Kings of the Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey, was published in 2018 by Penguin. adamweymouth.com / twitter.com/adamweymouth

Time: 7pm to 8pm (UK time)
Event registration link: