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A tribute to Professor Zygmunt Bauman, 1925 – 2017

Professor Zygmunt Bauman, celebrated as one of the greatest social thinkers of our times, passed away on Monday 9th January 2017 at home in Leeds. He was 91. Professor Bauman was head of the sociology department at the University of Leeds until his retirement in 1990. The Bauman Institute was founded in 2010 in his honour.

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds said:

“Professor Bauman was a man of deep intellect and compassion who inspired successive generations of staff and students at Leeds. A social theorist of great distinction, his insights and ideas were respected and admired around the world. We send our deepest condolences to his family and many friends.”

This entry was posted in News.

Anticipating Futures in a Complex World: An interdisciplinary seminar series

The Bauman Institute is co-hosting, with the Sustainability Research Institute (School of Earth & Environment), an exciting new seminar series “Anticipating Futures in a Complex World”.  This series is jointly funded by the Bauman Institute, Sustainability Research Institute and the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI).

About the series

In an era of seemingly perpetual crisis, subject to catastrophes of all kinds, urgency and immediacy have become the temporal modalities giving shape to futures,  placing anticipation at the centre of governance strategies for addressing the multiple challenges posed by an increasingly complex and fast-moving world. While the emphasis on anticipation exposes the pressing need for ontological security within late-modern societies, it also reveals a temporal fix on the future as a category of social action for shaping and thinking about the global and interrelated problems posed by a complex late-modern world. These include social and environmental challenges ranging from climate change and economic crisis to conflict, resource depletion, poverty and marginalisation, all of which impose a profound rethinking of the political, and of what it means to be together in an interconnected world. However, reinventing the political requires conceptual innovations that accept ruptures and discontinuities in the making of stable futures while embracing the inescapably chaotic and complex essence of life, and requires novel epistemic grounds on which new political movements and ideas could emerge.

At the same time, there is a sense of post-interventionist disillusionment about the possibility of collaboratively tackling the challenges imposed by expanding and dangerous futures, whilst the dominance of technicist and economistic thinking has closed down debates about how we might shape the category of the future in ways which are not solely determined by economic aims.  But the ways in which we try to anticipate and to act upon new threats and those yet to come are key to developing new ways of engaging with the future and to asking what this future-oriented world tells us about our contemporary experience of being together.  This seminar series will identify, explore and evaluate the substantive and methodological challenges of anticipating the future in a complex world, keeping in mind that the future remains a category far more than an ontological dimension.

For more information, please contact Katy Wright or Sebastien Nobert

Follow the conversation on Twitter #anticipatingfutures

Seminar schedule

Events will run from 4.00-5.30pm in the School of Sociology & Social Policy, Room 12.21/12.25 (Social Sciences Building, Level 12)

Campus Map:

16-11-16 Professor Jenny Pearce


Towards a Post-Representational Politics?  The politics of participation in a post-Brexit world


07-12-16 Dr Vladimir Jankovic

University of Manchester

‘The possibility cannot be ignored’: climate futures and strategic securitizations of atmospheric resources since the 1970s



25-01-17 Dr Austin Zeiderman


Endangered City: Securing the Future in Bogotá


08-02-17 Dr Clemens Driessen

Wageningen University

Re-imagining future landscapes by designing human-animal-technology relations, or: queering the farm with ecofeminist robotics


15-03-17 Dr Martin Savransky


Another Future is Possible!  Social Science and Speculative Experimentation in a World of Ifs


26-04-17 Professor Adrian Favell

University of Leeds

The Migration Equation: Rebooting Migration Theory Beyond Nations, Immigration and the Birthright Lottery
17-05-17 Professor Karen Rowlingson 

University of Birmingham

Have the baby boomers stolen their children’s future? Inter-generational inequalities and relationships in the UK

Book here

07-06-17 Dr Michelle Bastian 

University of Edinburgh

Temporality, Expectations and Sustainable Economies
05-07-17 Dr Sujatha Raman

University of Nottingham

Anticipating anti-microbial futures

This entry was posted in Events, News and tagged , , .

The Social Impact of Local Energy Developments: Our research on Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay

SLED tidal lagoon (artist's impression)

The tidal power scheme proposed for Swansea Bay (Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay) has been in the news today due to the government’s announcement that it is discussing subsidising the ambitious £1bn project.  Questions are being raised in the media about the levels of subsidy on offer and the potential impact on household fuel bills, and about whether the government’s willingness to back the project is intended to distract attention from its attempts to reinvigorate the North Sea oil industry.  However, what is missing from the current debate is what the impact of this project on local people might be.  Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability, News, SLED.

One Nation? Class, Utopia, and Labour’s Curious Quest for Renewal

one-nationA Bauman Institute Workshop

Date: Tuesday 18 November, 4:00 – 5.30pm
Location: Room 12.21/12.25, Social Sciences Building
Guest Speaker: Hugo Radice
Panel: Tracy Shildrick, Mark Davis

All Welcome Continue reading

This entry was posted in Events, News, Renewing Politics and Civil Society.

Diasporas of the Mind, 27.2.14


Presented by the Centre for Jewish Studies, FAHACS, CentreCATH and The Bauman Institute

27 February 2014, 5pm – 7pm

University of Leeds, Old Mining Building, Room 2.01

The book: Diasporas of the Mind: Jewish and Postcolonial writing and the Nightmare of History by Bryan Cheyette was published by Yale University Press in 2013.

The author: Prof. Bryan Cheyette is professor of English Literature at the University of Reading. His teaching and research interests lie in late-nineteenth and twentieth century English literature, modernism and politics, new literatures in English, postcolonial literature, British-Jewish literature, theories of “race” and modernity, and Holocaust literature.

The event: After an introduction by the author, 3 Leeds scholars, Prof. John McLeod, Prof. Max Silverman and Prof. Griselda Pollock, will offer responses to 3 parts of the book.

A general Q & A will follow.

Please book your free ticket via Eventbrite

For more info:

This entry was posted in Events, News.

Fracking and local communities

The current debates and protests about the issue of ‘fracking’ – shale gas extraction – in the south of England and elsewhere touch upon a number of the themes we are exploring in our SLED research project . This blog post examines some of the key issues raised by recent events, and provides some related evidence and analysis emerging from our own research. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, News, SLED.

The celebrity as liquid modern character type

Recognising Bauman’s lucidity- and, undeniably- his continued intrigue for the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of our current age, perhaps we should not be overly surprised as to Bauman’s choice to use Kim Kardashian’s infamous sex tape as an example of celebritydom in the 21st Century. Despite the somewhat surreal nature of hearing an octogenarian intellectual describe in what was, thankfully, not too gruesome a level of detail the rise of Kardashian’s fame in his Liberty Lecture last month, ‘What makes a hero?’, Bauman’s analysis, with some consideration, on the rise of the phenomenon of the celebrity remains ever intriguing on a sociological level. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, News and tagged , , , .

PRISM, identity and control through data

I recently wrote an article which will be published in the journal Thesis Eleven in October, in this paper I presented an argument about the ways in which certain aspects of digital culture are affecting identity and trust among other issues. One particular aspect which I focused on was some of the changes in the way surveillance is conducted through the accumulation, extraction and analysis of data on individuals and groups. One of my central claims was that surveillance for the purposes of national security and criminal justice is conducted in similar ways to the monitoring of consumers. The collation of “metadata” derived from online searches, connections on social networks or through mobile phone networks and websites. The time span of academic publishing is such that it is rarely possible to be completely up-to-date but the recent revelations of the practices of GCHQ and NSA in conjunction with internet companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook mean that my article already looks out of date for not addressing these events. The controversy does, however, provide a good opportunity to elaborate on some of the analytical points I made in the article and explore them in some more detail. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, News and tagged , , , .

Some notes on Zygmunt Bauman’s lecture, ‘What makes a hero?’

poznanThose more familiar with Zygmunt Bauman’s work may have recognised Wednesday’s lecture at the Howard Assembly Room as a very slight variation on a theme developed in the second chapter of Liquid Life (2005), entitled ‘From Martyr to Hero, and From Hero to Celebrity’. This should probably not come as too much of a surprise. As Bauman (2012: 3) has recently confessed, “a new topic for scrutiny … is no longer on my cards.” However, this in no way denigrates the content of the lecture itself, which provided an opportunity for both new readers of Bauman, and those who have been reading his work for many years, to hear him lecture on a topic which seldom makes its way into the critical commentaries: heroism. In fact, due to Bauman’s immense output (over thirty books since his retirement in 1990, and even more articles and interviews), even for those long-term readers it must no doubt have been refreshing to be reminded of aspects of his thought that had either been entirely forgotten, or quite simply passed over. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, News and tagged , , , .

Zygmunt Bauman delivers the Ernest Jones Lecture 2012: Culture, Identity and Liquid Modernity

baumanInstitute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
London WC1N 1EH

Drinks 6.30-7.30pm and Lecture 7.30-9pm

Tickets: £25 including refreshments (click here to book tickets)

In his lecture Professor Zygmunt Bauman will reconsider man’s relationship with his world from the perspective of the stage for which he uses the term  ‘liquid modernity’. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Events, News.

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