The Bauman Lectures

 

The late Zygmunt Bauman was one of the principle sources of inspiration behind the histories of violence project. He epitomised the ethos and ambition of our initiative more than any other academic of his generation. Bauman’s work and life embodied the fight for dignity against the forces of fascism and oppression in all its forms. He continued to bring intellectual force to bear on the violence of political tyrannies and the ability to render life arbitrary and meaningless. Bauman’s commitment to the value of critical pedagogy in the face of unrelenting intellectual assault is seldom matched in a world where the value of critical thought is becoming increasingly scarce. 

Bauman: A Natural History of Evil

 

In his inaugural lecture for the histories of violence project, Zygmunt brings into critical question the lack of any moral and ethical compass in our contemporary liquid modern times. Foregrounding the problem of evil as integral to the (post)modern condition, thereby forcing a critical re-evaluation of political theology, Bauman critically questions why seemingly normal people commit despicable acts of violence. This allows us to interrogate the ways we may rethink the extreme as a condition that can all too easily become normalised and acceptable. This “natural history of evil” poses some uncomfortable questions about the ways all of us may act given certain situations that may be manufactured beyond our control. Or as he suggests, not one of us truly knows how we might behave until the circumstance arrives. Zygmunt continues to remain a source of inspiration for many scholars around the world. His political sociology is one of hope. Long may the force of his thought continue to reach out and speak to those who seek better futures.

Giroux: War on Youth

 

In the 2nd of our Bauman Lectures, the critically acclaimed public intellectual Henry A. Giroux discusses the state sponsored assault being waged against young people across the globe, especially in the United States. For Giroux, what is no longer a hidden order of politics is that American society is at war with its children, and that the use of such violence against young people is a disturbing index of a society in the midst of a deep moral and political crisis. Only a fundamental rethinking of our political priorities can rescue us from this tragic foreclosure of hope. A close friend of the late Paolo Friere, Henry has made groundbreaking contributions to numerous fields, including education, critical theory, youth studies, media studies and public pedagogy. He currently occupies the Global TV network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.