PSA - British Library Lecture Series 2018


Earlier this year the Political Studies Association launched 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. Details of forthcoming and previous lectures are below. 

Francis Fukuyama: Exploring Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition

Friday 12th October 2018, 19:00 - 20:30, The British Library

Against the recent rise in populist and economic nationalism, historian and bestselling author Francis Fukuyama traces the development of the idea of identity. He draws on this history to deliver a sharp warning: that unless we forge a universal understanding of human dignity, we are doomed to endure continual conflict.

Francis Fukuyama saw our current crisis coming. In 2014 he wrote that American and global institutions were in disarray and too weak to withstand the capture of the state by powerful interest groups. Two years later, his predictions are being borne out with the rise of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarianism is destabilising the international order. These populist nationalists claim a direct connection with ‘the people’, a group usually defined in narrow and exclusionary terms. It seems that the demands of identity define world politics today. Anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicised Islam, the fractious environment of many college campuses, and the re-emergence of white nationalism – all these are rooted in challenges to the universal recognition that is the basis of liberal democracy. Too many now gravitate towards restrictive forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, or ethnicity. 

Francis Fukuyama is a Professor at Stanford University’s Institute for International Studies and Director of the Institute’s Centre on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. He is the author of Political Order and Political DecayThe Origins of Political OrderThe Great DisruptionOur Posthuman Future and State Building, among others. He is known for his influential 1989 essay, The End of History? which announced the triumph of liberal democracy and was a timely and influential thesis that chimed with the ending of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union and is still highly relevant in current ideological debates. 

This event will be chaired by Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge, Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham. 

HOW TO REGISTER (PSA MEMBERS ONLY): There are a limited number of complimentary places for PSA Members only. To reserve a place please email Susy Ajayi at the PSA, quoting your membership number. It is appreciated if you only request a place if you genuinely plan on attending. Please do not ask on behalf of non-PSA members - tickets can be purchased via the British Library here

VENUE DETAILS: Knowledge Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London,  NW1 2DB. Venue directions are available here


Previous lectures:

Jess Phillips MP: Women, Class, Politics

Wednesday 5th September 2018 (19.45 - 21.00), The British Library

Jess Phillips MP, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley

How can more women become involved in politics? What are the factors which restrict young women’s life chances and opportunities to become involved in politics, and how can these be overcome? Jess Phillips received her Labour Party membership for her birthday at the age of 14, was a councillor at 29 and a MP at 32. Jess discussed how she became a politician, how other women can follow her example, (lack of) opportunites, the importance of political representation, and how best to give her constituency a voice. 

Jess Phillips was elected the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley in 2015. Before this she worked with victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking, and continues to speak out on behalf of those who struggle to have their voice heard. She has worked with the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government on issues of violence against women and girls. She helped to launch the #NotTheCost campaign to combat the violence faced by politically active women, and the Recl@im the Internet campaign, which challenges abuse online. 

The event was chaired by Professor Sarah Childs, Professor of Politics and Gender and Director, Centre for the Study of British Politics & Public Life at Birkbeck, University of London. 



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. 



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. 




Previously, the PSA annually held both public and academic lectures 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