Researching Global Social Change

Researching Global Social Change


The interdisciplinary Ghent Centre for Global Studies at Ghent University has the honour of inviting you to the public lecture series on Frontiers of Globalisation, in which leading international scholars from different disciplines will offer critical perspectives on the dynamics of people, place and power in today’s globalizing world. Resource extraction, migration, urbanization and commodification are explored as essential frontier processes in shaping that world. The lectures engage with contemporary debates on the rush on resources, the refugee ‘crisis’, urban conflict, and ecological crisis.

  • Wednesday February 24, 14h00-15h30: Professor Michael Eilenberg (Aarhus University) on Resource Extraction and Sovereignty in Asia.
  • Wednesday March 23, 14h00-15h30: Professor Charles Watters (University of Sussex) on Refugees in Contemporary Europe.
  • Wednesday April 20, 14h00-15h30: Professor Ahmed Kanna (University of the Pacific) on Urban Counterinsurgency.
  • Monday May 2, 14h00-15h30: Professor Jason Moore (Binghamton University) on Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital.

Venue: Facultaire Raadzaal, Emile Braunschool, Volderstraat 3, 9000 Gent
All lectures are in English.
Admission is free, but registration is required via Event Manager (you find the links below each lecture)
Coordination and contact:

Wednesday 24 February, 14h00-15h30
Frontiers as state makers: Resource extraction, agricultural expansion and population resettlement in Asian borderlands by Michael Eilenberg (Aarhus University, Denmark)
This lecture examines how borderland regions in Asia are being reimagined as resource-rich, unexploited ‘wastelands’ and targeted for large-scale development schemes for economic integration and control. Common and overlapping features of these geographically-peripheral regions are processes of resource extraction, agricultural expansion, population resettlement, and securitization, and the confluence of these dynamic processes creates special frontier assemblages. Their reframing as resource frontiers heralds a new wave of interventions within them and sparks new asymmetries of power and exclusions around resources. Through the case of the Indonesian borderlands the lecture illustrate how large-scale palm oil plantation expansion fuelled by Malaysian and Singaporean capital intersect with projects of national security, sovereignty and state building.
Michael Eilenberg is Associate Professor in Anthropology at Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. His primary research interests centre on issues of state formation, sovereignty, autonomy, citizenship, agrarian expansion and climate politics in frontier regions of Southeast Asia. In particular he investigates state-society dynamics in the Malaysian and Indonesian borderlands on the island of Borneo. The anthropology of borderlands and borders is central to his analysis of transnational cross-border movements in the region. He is the author of At the Edges of States: Dynamics of State Formation in the Indonesian Borderlands (KITLV Press, 2012/BRILL, 2014).
Admission is free, but registration is required via Event Manager:

Wednesday 20 April, 14h00-15h30
Counterinsurgency as an “Urban Problematic”: Spatial Fetishism in David Kilcullen’s Out of the Mountains by Ahmed Kanna (University of the Pacific, USA)
David Kilcullen’s Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla has recently been published to great acclaim. Making the now familiar argument within the discourse of “the new military urbanism” (Graham 2011) that the urbanization of the world’s population will bring increased conflict, Kilcullen formulates strategies for the anticipatory militarization of North – South inequality. This lecture situates Kilcullen’s argument in larger discursive formations of counterinsurgency theory. Postcolonial critiques of counterinsurgency discourses have tended to emphasize their orientalism and cultural essentialism. While agreeing to some extent with these critiques, Ahmed Kanna argues that they have tended to deemphasize the spatial dimension of counterinsurgency and militarization, a dimension that becomes particularly visible when counterinsurgency takes the city as its object of power – knowledge. Out of the Mountains’ orientalism is overshadowed by its spatial fetishism, in which urban space is seen as the central and driving factor in ongoing and future conflicts. Drawing upon Lefebvre’s notions of urban revolution and urban problematic, he argues that driving logic of urban counterinsurgency is the militarization of every aspect of the urban in the service primarily of capitalist strategy, with orientalist representations at times necessary, at times incidental, to this process.
Ahmed Kanna is Associate Professor in Anthropology and International Studies at the School of International Studies, University of the Pacific. His research is situated in the fields of urban anthropology, global studies and cultural geography and focuses on the nexus between global urbanism and empire in the Middle East and North African region. He is the author of Dubai, The City as Corporation (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and has edited The Superlative City. Dubai and the Urban Condition in the Early Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press, 2013).
Admission is free, but registration is required via Event Manager:

Monday 2 May, 14h00-15h30
Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital by Jason Moore (Binghamton University, USA)
abstract will follow soon
Jason Moore is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University, and coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. His research interests are capitalism as world-ecology, political ecology, environmental history, food and agriculture, world history, and the political economy of agrarian change. He has written extensively on the history of capitalism in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, from the long sixteenth century to the neoliberal era. His research has been recognized with several international awards. He is author of Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (Verso, 2015).
Admission is free, but registration is required via Event Manager:

NEW DATE, SAME VENUE: Thursday 26 May, 12h30-14h00
Refugees in contemporary Europe: Borders, fences and the moral economy of care by Charles Watters (University of Sussex, UK)
Hundreds of thousands of people in contemporary Europe are on the move desperately seeking protection from ongoing conflicts in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the right to seek asylum being enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, those arriving at borders in Europe are often excluded from entry and face hostility from governments and populations within receiving countries. In this lecture humanitarian responses to refugees in Europe will be examined within the context of a moral economy of care, in which contemporary migrants may be judged undeserving of protection and social support. Watters will draw on a variety of case studies reflecting the migrant and refugee `crisis’ in contemporary Europe where migrants experience an `enigma of arrival’; at once `safe’ and repressive, and an unwelcome barrier to aspirations for a new life. The lecture will include reflection on the reception of refugees in transit zones such as ports in Belgium and France and in European ports on the Mediterranean Sea, and on modalities of reception in the UK.
Charles Watters is Professor of Wellbeing and Social Care at the University of Sussex. He is Director of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Wellbeing and directs research projects in collaboration with the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. His research includes international studies of asylum seekers and refugees and his roles have included as academic advisor on Migration and Health to the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union. Watters is Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care. His publications include Refugee Children: Towards the Next Horizon (Routledge, 2008).
Admission is free, but registration is required via Event Manager: