Queen Mary or the political theorist’s London, part 1


London, as one of the world’s most important academic centres, is a place of the most interest for every student of political theory. In a few following posts I will share my experience from the last couple of months I have spent in London, presenting places that have turned out to be the most attractive from my perspective.

Most of the places I will write about are located in the central London. I will begin, however, with Queen Mary. Its campus is located a few miles east of City of London.

A history of the Queen Mary College goes back to the 1880s so by British standards it may seem not so long. But in fact the current Queen Mary University of London (as it is officially named) was formed from the merger of several other institutions. Today QMUL is one of the largest and highly ranked parts of the University of London. It offers a variety of courses – from medicine to art studies.

Humanities and social sciences are also very active. One of the main persons from these fields is Quentin Skinner, who moved to Queen Mary from Cambridge in 2008.

I have travelled to Mile End a couple of times lately. Seminars in political theory are being held at Queen Mary at least once a month. Invited speakers presents their work in progress, giving the participants a chance to get to know the ideas before they are published. For guests it is an opportunity to verify their thesis and arguments in discussion. I had a chance to attend seminars with very splendid guests like David Owen (Southampton) and Michael Freeden (SOAS, Oxford).

And a couple of days ago I attended a conference on “Hegemony and Socialist Strategy” Today, organized by TheoryLAB that is a part of the School of Politics and International Relations. Chantal Mouffe, who wrote the book with Ernesto Laclau (who died in 2014) was an active participant in the discussion. She offered a diagnosis of the current state of the Left, claiming that it is much worse than it was in 1985, when the book was originally pulbished. Other participants included Oliver Marchart (Vienna), academics from Spain and Ecuador, and Íñigo Errejón of Podemos party. It gave the audience an opportunity to compare theoretical reflection with actual practice of contemporary Left.

And that is why I will be coming back to Queen Mary for such events. Although from Battersea, where I live, the travel takes almost an hour, every visit turns out to be worthwile.

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