Inside the department
RUPE provides a forum for discussion and research on contemporary political theory, bringing together an important cluster of research interests within the Politics Department.
There can be no complete picture of the political world without an understanding of the ideas and concepts that underpin political institutions and practices and that drive political forces and movements. Political theory is the study of these ideas and their effects, and has been around since the time Plato considered the meaning of justice in the fourth century BC. This discipline, however, is in the process of being redefined by new approaches to theories of knowledge, power, subjectivity and ethics, particularly those which have emerged from the continental tradition.
Thinkers like Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, Habermas and Rorty have enabled us to see politics in a new light, presenting an important challenge to dominant analytic and Anglo-American schools of thought. In exploring the ways in which the subject is situated within complex structures of language, discourse, technology and power, thinkers such as these have forced us to re-examine our prevailing ideas about political agency, freedom and autonomy, morality, individual rights and democracy.
More recently, thinkers like Ernesto Laclau, Jacques Ranciere, Judith Butler, Giorgio Agamben, William Connolly, Chantal Mouffe, and Hardt and Negri have attempted to apply these insights to contemporary political issues, and have generated new understandings of sovereignty, universality, democratic identity, political struggle and the international order.
RUPE provides a forum for discussion and research on contemporary political theory, bringing together an important cluster of research interests within the Politics Department. While it tries to take account of these new developments in political theory, it also engages with more traditional modes of political thought – and indeed, tries to establish a bridge between them. In particular, it seeks to apply political theory to developments in our contemporary world – globalisation, terrorism and the ‘war on terror’, the emergence of new social movements and transnational actors – as well as exploring themes of antagonism and violence, representation and aesthetics, democracy, difference and identity, and pluralism and equality.
RUPE aims to encourage research in contemporary political theory, and the dissemination of this research for academic purposes. To this end, it will engage in the following activities:
- Funded and collaborative research in a variety of areas in political theory
- A regular seminar series with invited speakers from within and outside Goldsmiths
- Publication of research in the form of books, journal articles and conference papers
- Encouraging the involvement of postgraduate students in RUPEs activities, particularly participating in seminars
- Organising academic conferences
The Director of RUPE is Dr Saul Newman, who deals with the daily business of seminar organisation, the website, publications and publicity. Also involved are Dr Jim Martin, Dr Bernadette Buckley and Professor Sanjay Seth.