*All times are UK time zone




17:00-18:15: KEYNOTE 1 (livestream:

Professor Lydia Liu (Columbia University), 'Nomos of the Mind: Geopolitics and the Struggle over Moral Ideas'

The struggle over moral ideas has been an interesting and important part of international politics in the modern world. Each time we insist that human rights or some other universal moral value belongs to the West or is simply a Western idea—whether to be embraced or be rejected—we are essentially reasserting the metaphysical divisions, distances, and boundaries that divide the world and divide minds in certain predictable ways. I raise the point not just to flag a contradiction of terms in the ubiquitous appropriation of the universal to the West but mainly to re-examine the geopolitical foundation—seen and unseen—of the familiar metaphysical divisions that persist in our intellectual discussions and scholarship about cultures, societies, and the world.

That foundation lies deep and expansive going back, for instance, to the Treaty of Tordesillas, meridian lines, European imperial warfare, maritime spheres of influence, colonial expansions and territorial divisions. Perhaps, the real moment of challenge or perceived threat did not arrive until the post-war decolonization movements and the revolutions of the 20th century. Beyond the national liberation project led by Third World leaders and intellectuals, one of their achievements was to dismantle what one might call “the nomos of the mind”, or the metaphysical divisions, lines, and boundaries that had served the geopolitical interests of imperial powers so well. Interestingly, they accomplished the feat by actively engaging in the struggle over universal moral ideas, transforming them and refashioning them, especially the idea of human rights.

But why human rights? Is this not a Western idea? What is at stake when one chooses to defend its universalism or speak against it? Furthermore, does the idea of human rights mean what one takes it to mean? In my lecture, I am going to take up each of these questions and start a new conversation about geopolitics and the reinvention of moral ideas after WWII. Drawn from my archival research, this discussion is focused on the work of the UN Human Rights Commission and, in particular, the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Lydia H. Liu is a scholar of comparative literature and a theorist of media and translation. She is the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities and former director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Her scholarship ranges across literary theory, modern Chinese history, media studies, political theory and language philosophy. Professor Liu is the author of numerous books and articles in English and in Chinese including The Freudian Robot (University of Chicago Press, 2010); The Clash of Empires (Harvard UP, 2004); Translingual Practice (Stanford UP, 1995); Tokens of Exchange (Duke UP, 1999); The Birth of Chinese Feminism (co-edited, Columbia UP, 2013) as well as the first annotated edition of a major anarchist journal in Chinese called Natural Justice (2016).

Among her many honors and awards, Professor Liu was a Guggenheim Fellow (1997-1998), a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2004-2005), and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2018-2019). As bilingual writer, her experimental fiction in Chinese The Nesbit Code received the 2014 Hong Kong Book Prize. Professor Liu is currently working on a book project called Wittgenstein in the Machine and will soon complete a co-edited volume titled The Lifeworld of Languages: Ecology, Diversity, Digital Vitality.


12:00-13:00: ROUNDTABLE

Getting Published Internationally

Prof. Paul Lawrence (The Open University), Caroline Palmer (Editorial Director at Boydell and Brewer), Prof. Andreas Speer (a.r.t.e.s.-University of Cologne), and Dr Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre (Stockholm University) join us for a roundtable discussion on academic publishing. They will share their advice on writing strategies, selecting journals, submitting essays and revising, and the peer-review process. Their brief presentations will be followed by a question period. 


9:30-10:30: WORKSHOP

Dr. Tamara Ashley (University of Bedfordshire), Somatics as a Research Tool

Dr. Tamara Ashley is a Senior Lecturer in Dance at the University of Bedfordshire. Her research investigates the practices of dance improvisation in the context of environmental change. Her work has included several durational site-responsive performances, including a thirty-one-day performance on the Pennine Way National Trail with fellow artist Simone Kenyon. She is particularly interested in the ethical dimensions of ecological dance practices.

Her work also draws on her work as a yoga teacher and somatic practitioner, with a strong emphasis on encouraging rigorous practices of first person enquiry for cultivating well-being and human development.

She recently served as a guest editor for the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and chaired the Well-being and Mindfulness Group as part of the Climate Change Collaborations Conference. She directs the MA programme in Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of Bedfordshire.


17:00-18:15: KEYNOTE 2 (livestream:

Dr Taylor M. Moore (The Harvard Academy for International & Area Studies), 'Divining (Across) Distance: An Amuletic Approach to the Humanities'

What can turn-of-the-twentieth century Egyptian wise women and their amulets teach us about storytelling in/and the humanities? This talk utilizes insights from my research on Upper Egyptian and Sudanese women healers to foster novel methods of imagining the pasts, presents, and possible futures of humanities scholarship. To begin, I provide a brief case study to show how my work uses modern Egyptian amulets as material archives to partially reconstruct the complex constellations of objects, practitioners, and laborers that made up the political and spiritual economies of healing in late Ottoman and interwar Egypt. Many of these practitioners defied temporal, geographical, and material distances by working with amulets and supernatural helpers to transmit knowledge between worldly and otherworldly realms. Taking inspiration from these women, their magical knowledge, and their premonitory practices, I hope to conclude by collectively imagining the potential of, what I call, ‘mediumship as method’ to simultaneously embrace and defy distance as an ever-constant material and spectral presence in humanities research—and the many other realms beyond.


Taylor M. Moore is a historian of the Modern Middle East, specialising in nineteenth- and early twentieth- century Egypt. She is currently an Academy Scholar at The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies where she is working on her first book project, Superstitious Women: Race, Magic, and Medicine in Egypt. In July 2022, she will join the The University of California, Santa Barbara as an Assistant Professor of History.

Taylor's broader research interests lie at the intersections of critical race studies, gender and sexuality studies, decolonial materiality, and histories of science, technology, medicine, and the occult in the non-West. Her work is invested in illuminating the occult(ed) networks, economies, and actors whose knowledge, bodies, and labor are generally rendered invisible in Eurocentric histories of global science.

 In addition to her writing and research, Taylor is an editor for the Arab Studies Journal and History of Anthropology Review, and a collaborating researcher with the global natural history digital humanities project, Natural Things | Ad Fontes Naturae. She works intimately with ethnographic collections, and intends to curate her own exhibit in the near future.