Fall 2021 Colloquium Series

The Department of Global Studies' Colloquium Series is a lecture and lunch series, which has been made possible by the generosity of the Orfalea Endowment for the Master's Program in Global Studies.  The Colloquium Series strives to open and explore a wide range of interdisciplinary debates and their interaction and engagement with the global, hosting new guest speakers each quarter from UCSB and beyond. Professor Jan Nederveen Pieterse is currently the Director of the Colloquium Series. For more information, please contact our Orfalea Colloquium Fellow Brett Aho at: brettaho@ucsb.edu

When?  Various Wednesdays, 12:30-2pm

Where?  Zoom link https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/84246564996  (talks will be recorded and posted on our YouTube channel)

Who?  The Global Studies Colloquium Series is open to everyone interested in attending the talks.



9/29/21       Michel Wieviorka, Racism, antisemitism and anti-racism in France

While racism and anti-Semitism are global phenomena they also differ from one country to another. This is why it can be interesting to compare the French case with other experiences, first of all with the US. This lecture will start with racism. In the past, France has been a colonialist country, a place also where the idea of human races was theorized, mainly during the 19th century. More recently, when migrants workers coming from former colonies became French and decided to stay in France, in the 70s, racism became increasingly cultural, “differentialist” say experts. Later, the progress of individualism, the rise of Islam, the emergence of an important Black population, the fragmentation of French society and other elements contributed to important transformations of racism. The lecture then analyzes the main recent transformations of anti-Semitism in France. In the late 70s there was a renewal of this phenomenon with so-called “negationism”, the idea that gas chambers never existed. The image of Israel became increasingly negative in French public opinion, due to its government policies in Lebanon and toward Palestinians, and there was and still exists a real confusion between hatred towards Jews, criticism of the Israeli government, and desire to finish with the state of Israel – anti-Zionism. More recently, racism and anti-Semitism in France have been changing due to developments in French social, cultural, religious and political life, including, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michel Wieviorka is a sociologist, Director of research at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris). He is president of the new association Collège d'Etudes Mondiales de Paris [Global studies]. He has researched social movements, violence, terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism. Main books in English: The Arena of Racism (Sage); The Making of Terrorism (University of Chicago Press); The Lure of Anti-Semitism (Brill); Violence: A new approach (Sage); Evil (Polity Press). Former President of the International Sociological Association (ISA, 2006-2010) and of the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'Homme in Paris (FMSH, 2009-2020), former member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC 2014-2020). Founder and co-director of two journals, SOCIO and Violence: An international Journal. Just published is Racisme, antisémitisme, antiracisme: Apologie pour la recherche (2021).


10/6/21       Sari Hanafi, Soft universalism

I know that many postcolonial scholars hate any use of the concept of universalism, mainly because of its problematic history. For me, however, there can be no science, nor a global understanding of our world, without admitting the universality of certain concepts (e.g., social class, democracy, and citizenship) and values (e.g., human rights and gender equality). But, if we want, at the same time, to be soft universalist and contextualist, how do we reconcile the local and the universal? There are three conditions for a concept to be softly universal. First, it is the outcome of a quasi-crosscultural consensus, rather than the result of generalizing or universalizing values embedded in a Euro-American context. Second, it is not a teleological concept, but a historical experience that gets its normativity as a result of a collective historical learning process (inherently open-ended). Third, its universality is impossible except as an imaginary, a general wide flexible concept, rather than a model to be exported. I will bring some examples on how many sociologists are practicing tough universalism that does not respect three above conditions and show some good examples of soft universalism.

Sari Hanafi is a Professor of Sociology, Director of Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies and Chair of the Islamic Studies program at the American University of Beirut. He is the President of the International Sociological Association. Recently he created the ‘Portal for Social impact of scientific research in/on the Arab World’ (Athar). He was the Vice President of the board of the Arab Council of Social Science. He is editor of Idafat: The Arab Journal of Sociology (Arabic). Among his recent books are The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East, and Knowledge Production in the Arab World: The Impossible Promise (with R Arvanitis). He is the winner of 2014 Abdelhamid Shouman Award and the 2015 Kuwait Award for social science. In 2019 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the National University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru (the first university in Latin America, established 1551). His website https://sites.aub.edu.lb/sarihanafi/


10/13/21    Anastasia Nesvetailova, Sabotage: The business of finance

Sabotage seeks to answer a simple question: how come financiers make so much money, whatever their geographical or political context? In our search for an answer we reach the conclusion that mainstream economic theory is, actually, correct in its core assumption. If the market is competitive – and the global financial system is a highly competitive industry - then financial institutions, big or small, could not have made the amount of profits that they have. Our study found that the inexplicably high degree of profitability in finance – back then and today - is the result of systemic attempts of financial businesses to control the market or, in other words, to sabotage the market. They did so in three main ways. One – and probably the easiest way - was by sabotaging their own clients. Sabotage is full of cases from very recent history, showing how institutions such as RBS in the UK or Wells Fargo in the US used their power to take advantage of clients, including those who are deceased. The second way financiers sabotage the market is way more sophisticated. Financial institutions have managed in one way or another to sabotage the state, in other words, to make sure that the state either subsidises them by reducing tax or bailing them out in times of trouble, or – in better times – by using sophisticated techniques of tax and regulatory avoidance. Finally, the third way of sabotaging the market is by sabotaging each other. One of the cases we discuss in the book includes a high-profile financial institution in the UK which, under the guise of helping another bank out of trouble, in fact depleted and destroyed the bank in question, benefitting enormously in the process. In an ironic twist of fate, the offender was eventually eaten up by another institution. ‘I don’t like the word “sabotage”,’ a former Goldman Sachs trader admitted to us. ‘It’s just harsh … Though, frankly, how else do you make money in this business … I mean, real money …’

Anastasia Nesvetailova is Director of Macroeconomic and Development Policies Branch (UNCTAD) and Professor of International Political Economy at City University of London. Her first monograph, Fragile Finance: Debt, Speculation and Crisis in the Age of Global Credit (Palgrave 2007) developed a Minskyan analysis of financial fragility and crises in the late 1990s. Her second monograph, Financial Alchemy in Crisis: The Great Liquidity Illusion (Pluto 2010) focuses on the elusive concept of 'liquidity' in global finance and on its role in the financial crisis of 2007-2009. The recent book Sabotage: The Business of Finance (Penguin 2020) is co-authored with Ronen Palan. Anastasia is the author of numerous articles on financial crises and the role of the financial sector in the economy. She is currently working on the political economy of financial innovation, systemic risk, shadow banking and wealth management. In 2015-2016 Anastasia served as a member of the Economic Advisory Panel to the Shadow Chancellor of the UK, John McDonnel, MP. Since 2017 she has served as an economic adviser to the Commission on Economic Justice (CEJ) of the IPPR. Prof. Nesvetailova is a member of the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators and has been advising international organizations (OECD, UNCTAD) on global financial reform and illicit financial flows.


10/20/21    Vibodh Parthasarathi, Platform capitalism in India

The emergence of platforms in media and the wider knowledge economy has aroused euphoria and anxiety in scholarship. Predominant in both is a view of the platform phenomenon as a rupture. In contrast, I have proposed grasping platform dynamics as an evolutionary process, where information and communication technologies get incrementally harnessed to reformulate market systems and social transactions (Athique & Parthasarathi 2020). This shifts attention from engaging with platforms, the noun, to ‘platformization’, a verb, thereby transcending an affordances-based approach to platforms. Arguing my case leads me to focus on Exchange Platforms, a conception constituting my four-way typology of platforms, which include Attention, Commodity, and Governance Platforms. In particular, I delve into matchmaking apps that illustrate the platformization of social economies unfolding around us. One rendition of this is the platformization of age-old practices of ‘arranged marriages’; another, not necessarily opposing rendition manifests in ‘online dating’. These seemingly minor practices embody the industrial dynamics of Big Tech – therefore also reflecting key anxieties deliberated at the high table of platform governance.

Vibodh Parthasarathi has a multidisciplinary interest in media policy, creative industries and policy literacy. Associate Professor, Centre for Culture, Media and Governance at Jamia Millia Islamia, he is also Visiting Fellow at Centre for Media, Data and Society, Central European University. He has held visiting positions at the University of Queensland, KU Leuven, University of Helsinki, IIT-Bombay, and Lund University. Parthasarathi has been at the forefront of media policy research in India and has won numerous awards including from the Ford Foundation, Canada’s IDRC, and the University Grants Commission. Platform Capitalism in India (Palgrave 2020) is his latest edited work, following the critically acclaimed double-volume The Indian Media Economy (OUP 2018), and the triptych Communication Processes (Sage 2007, 2009, 2010). Parthasarathi serves in positions of governance at the Centre for Internet and Society and The Media Foundation, in advisory roles with book series at MIT Press and OUP, and is Associate Editor of the Journal of Digital Media and Policy.


10/27/21    Max AjlA people’s green New Deal: global development enfolding the South

                Chair: Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky

Within the past years, the Green New Deal became the common language for northern progressive climate politics, offering a seeming exit path from norther and global social and ecological crises. This presentation will consider the contours of a possible global People’s Green New Deal, focusing on the multiple and interlocking elements for a global GND to become a program for North-South developmental convergence. It lays out the planks of a common ecological program which takes seriously auto-centered development and sovereignty in the South and the North, braided with reparations for ecological debt, moves towards substantive decolonization, worldwide energy use convergence, shifts towards sustainable manufacturing and low-energy convivial infrastructures, and widespread investment in and attention to sustainable farming through agroecology and food sovereignty.

Max Ajl is a postdoctoral fellow at the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University and an associated researcher at the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and the Environment. His articles have been published in the Journal of Peasant StudiesReview of African Political Economy, and Globalizations. He is an associate editor at Agrarian South. His book, A People’s Green New Deal, was published in 2021 with Pluto Press.


11/3/21       James H. Mittelman, Runaway capitalism: The greatest pandemic

Runaway capitalism is spreading across territorial borders with only light regulation and growing increasingly out of control. This turn in capitalism is novel because it morphs into “the greatest pandemic”: simultaneous crises in public health, democracy, the economy, the environment, race relations, and higher education. In these perilous times, runaway capitalism materializes in three ways: as algorithmic, cognitive, and philanthropic capitalism. These paths are converging in a manner that has commanded little notice. This talk will cite specific instances of the trifecta of capitalist pathways in the global South and global North, and note proposals for structural reform.

James H. Mittelman is Distinguished Research Professor and University Professor Emeritus at American University. Previously, he served as Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies (today the Korbel School) at the University of Denver and Professor and Dean of Social Sciences at Queens College, City University of New York. He was appointed as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1998 and received the International Studies Association’s 2010 International Political Economy Distinguished Scholar Award in 2010. He is the author or editor of several books on global political economy, globalization, and development, most recently, Implausible Dream: The World-Class University and Repurposing Higher Education (Princeton University Press 2018).


11/10/21     Alex de Waal, Crisis in the Horn of Africa

The crisis in the Horn of Africa is a regional security crisis, a humanitarian catastrophe, and represents a far-reaching challenge to multilateral norms. The wars of the region are interlocking and threaten the disintegration of Ethiopia, a state of 110 million people. The famine in Tigray, the worst in the world for nearly 40 years, is a shocking reminder that starvation is a weapon of war, which we seem reluctant to confront. The norms, principles and institutions for peace and humanitarian action at the African Union and United Nations have been found wanting. It has been a high priority for the Biden Administration, which appreciates the severity of the conflict and its likely repercussions across the entirety of the Red Sea arena—from the Persian Gulf to the Nile Valley—but has struggled to build a consensus for how to respond.

Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation, Research Professor at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and Professorial Fellow at the London School of Economics. He has worked on the Horn of Africa and on humanitarian issues since the 1980s as a researcher and practitioner. He initiated the UN Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa and was director of the AIDS, Security and Conflict Initiative and was a senior advisor to the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan and South Sudan. De Waal’s recent books include The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power (Polity 2015), Mass Starvation: The history and future of famine (Polity 2018), and New Pandemics, Old Politics: 200 years of the war on disease and its alternatives (Polity 2021).


11/17/21     Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky, Muslim return migration from the Middle East to Russia, 19–21C

In the nineteenth century, about a million Muslims from the North Caucasus region of the Russian Empire fled as refugees to the Ottoman Empire. Since then, the Middle Eastern diaspora of North Caucasian descent grew to between three and five million people in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Israel, and Iraq. This talk focuses on return migration of the North Caucasian diaspora to Russia over the last 160 years. Dr. Hamed-Troyansky will examine re-immigration policies under Russia’s tsarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet regimes. Return migration stayed illegal throughout the entire period, although several exceptions had been made. The Russian government’s perceptions of the diaspora changed significantly: from Pan-Islamists to bourgeois capitalists to ethnic separatists. The relationship with the diaspora further affected Soviet/Russian foreign policy in the Middle East.

Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky is Assistant Professor of Global Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. He specializes in global migration and forced displacement and the history of the Ottoman and Russian empires and their successor states. Dr. Hamed-Troyansky’s current book project, Empire of Refugees: North Caucasian Muslims and the Late Ottoman State, examines the resettlement of Muslim refugees from Russia in the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I. His book is based on archival research in over twenty public and private archives in Turkey, Jordan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the United Kingdom, and Russia, including the autonomous republics of Dagestan, North Ossetia-Alania, and Kabardino-Balkaria.


11/24/21     Gerard Delanty, Sociological perspectives on the Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has reached into almost every dimension of the social world. The pandemic is inextricably entwined in societal processes and intersects with other crises in society, as in democracy, the environment and capitalism. It raises major sociological questions; yet it is also not entirely clear what a sociological response might be. Covid-19 is rooted in the fundamental fact of social interaction and human mobility, which makes it of special interest to sociology. Lockdowns, mask-wearing, quarantine etc. challenge the fundamental existential fact that human beings are social beings as well as political animals. I look at the pandemic as relating to some of the great questions in modern sociology and political philosophy. My talk is an attempt to answer the question of how should we assess the societal significance of the current pandemic in shaping contemporary societies. I will begin with some reflections based on a volume I recently edited, Pandemics, Society and Politics: Critical Reflections on the Covid-19 Pandemic (De Gruyter, Berlin, 2021).

Gerard Delanty is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social and Political Thought at Sussex University, Brighton. He was previously at University of Liverpool. He has been visiting professor at York University, Toronto; Doshisha University, Kyoto; Deakin University, Melbourne; Hamburg University; the Federal University of Brasilia; and University of Barcelona. His field is social and political theory as well as the history and philosophy of the social sciences. His most recent book is Critical Theory and Social Transformation (Routledge 2020). Other books include The Cosmopolitan Imagination (Cambridge 2009), Formations of European Modernity (Palgrave 2nd edition 2019), Community (Routledge 3rd edition 2018), The European Heritage: A critical re-interpretation (Routledge 2018). His most recent edited volume is Pandemics, Society and Politics: Critical Reflections on the Covid-19 Pandemic (De Gruyter 2021). He has been the chief editor of the European Journal of Social Theory since 1998.