PSA - British Library Lecture Series 2018


The Political Studies Association is pleased to announce the launch in 2018 of a new lecture series in partnership with the British Library. Complementing the British Library’s richly curated and diverse programme of exhibitions and events, the series will help the public engage with and develop a better understanding of politics, especially within wider historical and cultural contexts. A number of free places are offered to PSA Members for each lecture.

The following lectures have taken place so far:

Storytelling and Politics: How History, Myths and Narratives Drive Our Decisions

Monday 19th February 2018, The British Library

Mark Laity, Director of Communications at SHAPE, NATO’s Military Headquarters

The inaugural lecture was given by Mark Laity, one of NATO's foremost experts and thinkers on communications and a former BBC Defence Correspondent. 

Shared myths, accepted legends and historical assumptions: how can we make rational decisions when we are so dominated by the stories handed down to us?Stories that draw upon legends testify to the power of narrative to entertain but can also inform us about how storytelling can influence politics. In the so-called post-fact era Mark Laity will discuss the influence of history, culture and narrative on today's politics. We may think we make rational decisions, but how much is that really so, and is the same thing that makes us love legends and stories driving our decision-making in real life?

Mark Laity is the Director of Communications at SHAPE, NATO's Military HQ. At a time when the influence of information and the internet on international security is rising, Mark is regarded as one of NATO's foremost experts and thinkers on communications, with extensive experience in conflict zones such as Afghanistan. Also, as a former BBC Defence Correspondent, he reported from the frontlines of many wars, and is a sought-after speaker on the role of information in modern conflict.

The lecture was chaired by Dr Harmonie Toros, Senior Lecturer in International Conflict Analysis, University of Kent. 


Bernadette McAliskey

The Class of '68: Where is the Legacy?

Tuesday 29th May 2018, The British Library

Bernadette McAliskey, a key political voice and activist over the last 50 years, reflected upon a life spent campaigning for social justice and equality, from the radical awakenings of 1968 to the present. 

Bernadette McAliskey explored how the events and various protest movements of 1968 energised each other, creating both the expectations and opportunities for significant social change, for advances in equality and a more inclusive democratic system. She assessed the legacy and impact of this profound period 50 years on, what was gained and what was lost and where do we go from here.

Bernadette McAliskey has been a social change activist, organiser and campaigner all her adult life. She is actively involved in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement and was a founding member of  the student movement, 'People’s Democracy', in 1968. She was elected to Westminster in 1969, aged 21 on a radical manifesto which included integrated education and cancelling the national debt. She sat as an independent MP in both Labour and Conservative led Parliaments (1969-1974). During this time, she served a six-month prison sentence for her leadership role in the Battle of Bogside (1969) and later survived an assassination attempt in 1981. She was and remains critical of the Northern Ireland Peace Process through which the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement was reached in 1998, arguing that the deliberate ambiguity it enshrined was unsustainable; that it institutionalised segregation and sought to manage rather than resolve sectarian perspectives. Bernadette is an active human rights campaigner, spending much of her time in grassroots organising. In 1996 she co-founded S.T.E.P. (South Tyrone Empowerment Programme), a rights-based community owned resource, learning and development organisation working with ‘the people furthest from the table of power and plenty’ including new immigrants, migrant worker families and refugees. Bernadette describes herself as a socialist republican and a feminist.

The lecture wias chaired by Professor Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford. Professor Gildea led an international research project - ‘Around 1968: Activists, Networks and Trajectories’ - which recorded the spoken testimonies of more than 500 protesters from all over Europe. He edited the subsequent publication, Europe’s 1968. Voices of Revolt (OUP, 2013) in which activists' own voices reflect on how they were drawn into activism, how they worked and struggled together, how they combined the political and the personal in their lives, and the pride or regret with which they look back on those momentous years. Themes explored include generational revolt and activists' relationship with their families, the meanings of revolution, transnational encounters and spaces of revolt, faith and radicalism, dropping out, gender and sexuality, and revolutionary violence. 


Details of forthcoming lectures as part of this series will be made available shortly. 


Previously, the PSA annually held both a public and an academic lecture to encourage and develop wider interest in the study of politics.

Annual Public Lecture 2017

'Russia's Place in the World' with Bridget Kendall MBE

Tuesday 2 May 2017, The British Library

For further details please click here

Annual Academic Lecture 2016

'Another World is Inevitable: Mapping UK General Elections' with Danny Dorling, chaired by Carolyn Quinn (BBC)

Monday 28 November 2016, The British Library

Visit Danny Dorling's website for a full sound recording of the lecture and a slideshow of maps!

Annual Public Lecture 2016

'Is Shakespeare Always Political?' Glenda Jackson in conversation with Michael Billington, chaired by Professor Liz Frazer

Monday 20 June 2016, The British Library