Accessibility statement

Countervoices Spring Series

Thursday 30 January 2020, 4.00PM to 5.30pm

The first session of the Countervoices PG Forum Spring Series. The forum is a twice termly event that offers Masters and PhD students in the Centre for Modern Studies the opportunity to present a short piece of work to an interdisciplinary audience of their peers. The event will consist of papers from Joseph Gascoigne and Joshua D’Arcy. It will be followed by a Q&A and a drinks reception.

Chair: Diana Mudura

Party Politics: the emergence of ‘partyism’ in post-colonial Antigua and its present day repercussions. 

My undergraduate and master’s have explored the role of identity in Antiguan politics throughout the 20th century. Drawing on an abundance of rich oral and archival information I have sought to rectify a glaring historical neglect of Antiguan history and cultural history in small states generally. Current research has led me to investigate the dramatic emergence of party politics in the 1970s and the development of an overwhelming ‘partyism’ ideology. This dogma almost immediately overshadowed socialism and anti-colonialism and came to influence all aspects of Antiguan politics, culture, society, and even economics. The most significant immediate impact was the total destruction of the anti-colonial working-class consensus that had dominated Antigua for decades. The effects of partyism are very obvious today and include everything from street violence to high level endemic corruption. How party politics emerged so rapidly and wholly and its quasi-religious entrenchment in Antiguan culture raises serious questions for researchers interested not only in Caribbean history, but also post-colonialism, decolonisation, politics in small places, and identity. It is a topic ripe for multi-disciplinary exploration. 

Joseph Gascoigne is a current Research Masters at the University of York completing a 1 year MRes in Antiguan political and social History. This follows on from his thesis (awarded the Herbert Prize, 2017) completed as part of his undergraduate degree at Oxford. As part of his MRes he hopes to reach out to other students interested in doing more collaborative work on modern research in the fields of history, politics, identity, statecraft, and other related areas. 

The Weird Engine: Bodies, Sustainability, and Train Fantasies in Snowpiercer

When considering sustainability, Graeme Macdonald suggests that Science Fiction is “the genre par excellence influencing the full spectrum of the energy imaginary” (2016). This paper binds this energetic approach to a world-ecological reading of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer (2013), a filmic reimagining of Jacque Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette’s apocalyptic graphic novel Le Transperceneige (1982). It argues that Snowpiercer critiques the political unconscious equivalency of scientific progress and neoliberal expansion by problemetising market-driven logics of sustainability, and how these logics curtail alternative solutions — an underdeveloped capacity of its source-material. The period of neoliberal financialization that spanned the decades between the texts is bound to a technocratic ideology that is critically spatialised in the architecture of the film’s fantastical train, its supposed perpetual-motion engine weirdly sustaining contemporary class relations. For Jason Moore, such an “epoch-making innovation” should “drive down the share of world nature directly dependent on the circuit of capital” (2011), reshaping the social complex. Instead, the bodies of the passengers are subordinated to the engine and integrated into its infrastructural workings. This weird literalisation of energetic relations combines with the film’s melodramatic subversion of filmic realism to highlight the fetishisation of innovation as a violent barrier to the utopian imagination. 

Joshua D’Arcy is a PhD Student in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York. He is currently writing his world-literary thesis on weirdness, infrastructure, and the world-ecology, focusing on contemporary fiction and media from artists including Nicola Barker, Dimitri Glukhovski, and Reza Negarestani. 


Location: The Treehouse, Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome