Distinguished Speaker Series Guest Lecture: Professor Michael Shapiro

Muirhead Tower, Room G15 Main Lecture Theatre
Research, Social Sciences, Teaching
Monday 12th November 2012 (17:30-18:30)
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Against Explanation: Method After The Aesthetic Turn

A Guest Lecture by Professor Michael J. Shapiro, Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii

As our world becomes more multifaceted, our tools for understanding the world require more rigorous interdisciplinary approaches. This is a unique opportunity to hear from a leading contemporary thinker and one of the finest minds in political theory and learn how a more open understanding of the concept of method is both more rewarding and enlightening.

Michael Shapiro is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. His writings are extraordinary in their breadth, their range, and their capacity to grasp the workings of the political in such a wide array of contexts and from such a diverse set of phenomena. Shapiro is an innovator in political theory along three fronts: discourse, culture and violence. He was one of the first theorists to demonstrate convincingly that language is not epiphenomenal to politics. Indeed, he shows that language is constitutive of politics. His rich and numerous writings on culture show that politics is in culture and culture is in politics and no politically salient approach to culture can afford to turn either term into a causal variable. By reconceptualizing and reinterpreting the term violence, Shapiro’s work has helped us to rethink the very boundaries between political theory and international relations as putatively separate subfields of political science. He is the author of many acclaimed and influential works including Language and Political Understanding: The Politics of Discursive Practices (1981), Violent Cartographies: Mapping Cultures of War (1997) and Cinematic Political Thought: Narrating Race, Nation and Gender 1999).

Much of Shapiro's recent and ongoing work is concerned with the deep ontological and epistemological commitments that underpin conventional positivist methods and demonstrates how "method" can be understood in much broader and more interesting ways. His notion of 'writing-as-method' is enacted throughout the text and offers a stimulating alternative for students to positivist social science methods. "Writing-as-method" is a post-hermeneutic approach to method developed by Shapiro which shows how “writing and critical thinking are radically entangled". His work has been innovative with respect to the phenomena he has taken to be political, and the concomitant array of methods that he has brilliantly mastered. His recently released book, Studies in Trans-Disciplinary Method: After the Aesthetic Turn draws upon a broad range of philosophical and methodological theory as well as a wide variety of artistic sources from fine art to cinema and from literature to the blues.

Professor Shapiro will deliver his guest lecture together with an open invitation for questions from the audience.

This guest lecture is part of the College of Social Science's Distinguished Speaker Series. The guest lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the Atrium of the Muirhead Tower at 6.30pm.

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