Monster politics: Austerity, hegemony and being out of place

Launch of Austerity as public mood by Kirsten Forkert (BCU) and Posthuman Urbanism by Debra Benita Shaw (UEL).

Kirsten and Debra will have a conversation about their books in relation to austerity, normality and the representation of monsters in popular media. The politics of austerity produces monstrous others who stand as scapegoats for the effects of reduced public spending; refugees are conflated with monstrous “economic migrants” or terrorists so as to be denied human rights; young Black men are characterised as monsters so as to justify police brutality; monsters threaten our children and the spectre of the monstrous crowd is conjured in the service of law and order.

Are we all potentially monsters? Or are some of us more monstrous than others? Is it possible to claim a position of monstrosity, of being ‘out of place’ as the basis for a revitalised left politics? Or does doing so reaffirm the binary opposition between the monstrous and the normal?

The event is sponsored by the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research.

Kirsten Forkert and Debra Benita Shaw’s books deal with monster politics, new social movements, responses to austerity and the right to the city. Both books are both published by Rowman and Littlefield International.

Gemma Commane (BCU) will introduce and respond to the conversation.

About Austerity as Public Mood

Austerity as Public Mood explores how politicians and the media mobilise nostalgic and socially conservative ideas of work and community in order to justify cuts to public services and create divisions between the deserving and undeserving. It examines the powerful appeal of these concepts as part of a wider public mood marked by guilt, nostalgia and resentment – particularly around the inequalities produced by global capitalism and changes to the nature of work.

In doing so, the book engages with urgent questions about the contemporary political climate. Focusing on the UK, it challenges accounts of neoliberalism which frame it as primarily an individualising force and localist definitions of the community as mitigating its damaging effects. Finally, it explores how resistance to austerity can challenge these tendencies by offering a politics of solidarity and hope, and a forum for experimentation with alternative forms of collectivity

About Posthuman Urbanism:

Posthuman Urbanism evaluates the relevance and usefulness of posthuman theory to understanding the urban subject and its conditions of possibility. It argues that contemporary science and technology is radically changing the way that we understand our bodies and that understanding ourselves as ‘posthuman’ offers new insights into urban inequalities.

By analysing the relationship between the biological sciences and cities from the nineteenth-century onward as it is expressed in architecture, popular culture and case studies of contemporary insurgent practices, a case is made for posthuman urbanism as a significant concept for changing the meaning of urban space. It answers the question of how we can change ourselves to change the way we live with others, both human and non-human, in a rapidly urbanising world.

About Gemma Commane:

Dr Gemma Commane is Lecturer in Media and Communications, and an active researcher in the fields of media and cultural studies, and gender and sexuality. Gemma’s research interests focus on contemporary cultural studies, alternative constructions of femininity, entrepreneurship within BDSM and kink (‘kinktrepreneurship’), gender and sexuality, researcher positionality and ethnographic research.