Club Critical Theory (Southend-on-Sea) 4th Dec Event


Theorizing the Other: migration and cultural tourism

Thurs 4th December, 2014


Upstairs at the Railway Hotel, Southend-on-Sea,


‘You were the first to teach us something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for others’ (Gilles Deleuze to Michel Foucault)

With increasingly xenophobic discourse framing political commentary in British mainstream media – cynically articulated this year by a privately educated ex-commodities broker passing himself off as a ‘man of the (common) people’ – to be labelled as ‘Other’ in the contemporary moment is to be read as inferior; a drain on national resources and a threat to the alleged homogeneity of the cultural practice of Britain’s indigenous population. Confusingly, the Other in many forms of popular culture is simultaneously fetishized as an object of desire, often for middle-class cultural tourists intent on indulging in ‘cheap holiday[s] in other people’s misery’ (John Lydon, 1977).

This Club Critical Theory event will examine the processes by which the Other is identified and marked by engaging with the work of writers, Agata Pyzik and Sophia Deboick. Each will discuss this theme within their work by examining the ‘exotic’ appeal Eastern Europe held for David Bowie in the mid-seventies and the quasi-religious fervour with which the globalized fan-base of Depeche Mode continues to frame its utopian idealization of the group. In doing so, Agata and Sophia will invite us to explore both the roots and the routes by which the Other is marked and fixed in the public imagination, as both a source of fear and fascination.

Speaker Biographies

Agata Pyzik is a Polish journalist and author whose work has appeared in publications such as The Wire, The Guardian, New Statesman, New Humanist, Afterall and Frieze. She studied philosophy, art history, English and American studies in Warsaw and has interviewed some of the foremost contemporary leftist thinkers and art theoreticians, which provides context for her interest in contemporary forms of resistance and political aesthetics. Agata is the author of the highly acclaimed, Poor But Sexy: Culture Clashes in Europe East and West (Zero Books).

Sophia Deboick is a historian of religion and popular culture and a freelance writer. Her doctoral thesis looked at the role of images in the cult of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux in early twentieth-century France. Her broader interests include popular religion and sainthood, particularly in modern France and Poland. Sophia also has an interest in fan cults and pilgrimage, in both the sacred and secular contexts of Catholicism and popular music. She writes on history, religion and culture at The Guardian, The Quietus and elsewhere.

Introduction: Giles Tofield (Cultural Engine)

Chair: Andrew Branch (UEL)

DJ: Beardy Al

About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) and The Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media (due 2020 with Polity Press). Tony is the organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK (see archive on this blog). As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Tony has been project lead on a number of funded projects that bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach. These activities have included large conferences, symposia and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres, co-organized with community groups and local authorities. Tony occasionally blogs at: Full academic profile:
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