Monthly Archives: March 2014

Theories of Globalization Workshop


Panelists reflected on the book’s contribution to global studies and research on the global. A recurrent theme was the extent to which globalization scholarship has yet to fully embrace the promise of global theory as a game changer in how the world is understood and knowledge about it accrued. In this regard Theories of Globalization was seen as providing a very welcome forensic critique of existing scholarship and some important, if tantalizing, pointers to how a theory of the global can embrace interdisciplinarity and multidimensionality when describing and explaining new worlds.

Each panelist applauded the book’s scholarship and its contribution to a more theoretically refined global scholarship. All agreed that a book with this scope and ambition would always suffer from the “not invented here” kind of critique and from charges that such-and-such a theme or topic ought to have been included. As such their reviews of the book picked up on different facets of the analysis and highlighted a number of interesting issues about coverage and whether and how these might be addressed in subsequent editions.

Darren O’Byrne noted that what is particularly striking about Axford’s efforts is that they demonstrate a respect for the complexity of globalization theory. It is no easy task to start from a position of such complexity and translate that into a clear and understandable text. Global change is clearly not one-dimensional or one-directional. Multiple processes occur at multiple levels. They co-exist and sometimes collide. They are both happening and not-happening at the same time. From the standpoint of organizing a work of exposition and critique this makes for a daunting task.

O’Byrne stated that Axford presents us with a framework for mapping theories of globalization that distinguishes (for analytical but not empirical purposes) between five core logics (his term) of globalization. Axford does not seem to be attempting to ‘compare and contrast’ these five logics (in the way that one can compare and contrast hyper-globalizers, transformationalists and sceptics, or long-term and short-term theorists, or Marxists and non-Marxists). This is an understandable strategy, given his concern with the complexity of global change. Axford’s five dimensions of globalization – spatial, cultural, historical, political, economic – are akin to Bourdieu’s ‘fields’, each driven by its own logic, disagreements over which produce the rich theoretical debates captured in these chapters. Finally, O’Bryne pointed to the absence of any real engagement with the gendered dimensions of globalization.- an omission acknowledged by the author. He suggested that perhaps this is an unfortunate reflection of the state of globalization theory, rather than a deliberate omission from an author obviously sensitive to such dynamics.

David Inglis also pointed to the danger of adopting a “not invented here” mentality to any critique of this book. He extolled the virtues of the book for teaching and research purposes. In particular the book was not neglectful of the need for a historical dimension in all studies of globalization to balance the overweening presentism of much early theory and empirical research. At the same time he suggested that, in any future edition, Axford might afford more attention to the ways in which classical theory and classical thinkers have much more to say about contemporary forms of globalization than is often credited.  He posed the question “what makes good globalization theory?” and how should that inform the making of intellectually challenging and socially useful global studies?

Ray Kiely applauded a hugely impressive critique of a wide range of literature from across the disciplines – Political Science, IR, Sociology, Cultural Studies, geography, Political economy. This is testimony to the notion that Globalisation studies is at its best when it is interdisciplinary and he agreed that Axford does an excellent job discussing global issues across and between these disciplines.

He also suggested that the work needs to be seen, in part at least, as an extended response to Rosenberg’s post-mortem. Rosenberg argued that globalisation theory was guilty of circular reasoning, so that a set of processes called globalisation (global governance, migration capital flows etc) were explained by something called globalisation – thus conflating description with explanation. like Axford, Kiely think Rosenberg lumps too much diverse work into the globalisation mix and overstates the issue of causality. Taking up Axford’s approbation of complexity theory as a relatively uncontaminated way of thinking about globalization, Kiely offered some support for that view, but expressed the reservation that complexity theory might be stuck at the level of appearances, with the result that anti-reductionism simply becomes non-explanation and/or description. All of which reintroduces Rosenberg’s structures about globalization theory.

Barrie Axford thanked the panellists for their considered and supportive comments. He acknowledged the challenge and the difficulties of writing “a” book about the vagaries of globalization theory and reiterated his hopes that the approach adopted does 3 things. First, it identifies the strengths and weaknesses of global scholarship; second, it highlights similarities and differences in approach to what are often the same puzzles as these appear in scholarship out of various intellectual traditions; third, it points to a jobbing interdisciplinarity in some areas of research and theorizing and thus, fourth, goes some way to demarcate a social science of globality that has always implied the absence of boundaries, but needs a scholarship that is dedicated to the same ends.  He noted the qualifiers offered by the panellists and promised to bear these in mind when (if) a second edition is on the cards.


The rest of the session was taken up with a lively Q+A session led by the audience in which issues as diverse as the treatment of colonialism in globalization theory, the continued Euro-centrism of many accounts and the still powerful grip of disciplinary traditions and concerns were rehearsed.

The workshop which took place on Tuesday 18 February at Oxford Brookes University. It brought together a panel of leading academics of globalization to discuss Barrie Axford’s recently published book Theories of Globalization (Polity, 2013). The workshop was chaired by Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway, University of London) and the panel was made up of Darren O’Byrne (University of Roehampton), David Inglis (Exeter University) and Ray Kiely (Queen Mary, University of London). The audience was made up of members of the GSA, GPES and graduate students at Brookes.

Organized by the Global Studies Association (GSA) and the Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society (GPES), Oxford Brookes University






Oxford Brookes’ Alex Jacoby to talk samurais on BBC Radio 3


Alex Jacoby, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, took part in a discussion with film scholar Ian Christie, the film editor for The Metro, Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, and author S.F. Said on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking, to talk about the re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film Seven Samurai.

The panel discussed the enduring fascination of the work, its international appeal, its status as a work that redefined the jidai-geki (period film), its social and political context in the milieu of postwar Japan, and its ongoing influence on other artists and filmmakers.

Free Thinking will be broadcast on Tuesday 25 March at 10pm on BBC Radio 3 and will be available to listen to on BBC iPlayer afterwards.

Seven Samurai is available to stream now on the BFI Player and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD by the BFI on 21 April 2014.

Essay Competition: Can social sciences save lives?

NewsStory - image

Social Sciences: Social, cultural, ethical, economic and political problems facing global society today cannot be tackled by technology and natural sciences alone. Social scientific research aims to explain the changes that affect social and political life.

What are we looking for? We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary studies including sociology, political science, international relations, history, economics, anthropology, and philosophy. Eligible essays can define ‘saving lives’ broadly in order to cover both micro- and macro-level projects that make a difference in our living standards.

Who are Social Scientists? Social scientists can be identified as actors, norm entrepreneurs, change agents, or ‘disinterested Others’ (following George Herbert Mead) who criticize the conventional and taken-for-granted concepts, assumptions, methods, solutions and ‘ways of doing things’.

Alternatively, you can focus on how Social Sciences can structure the way in which individuals, groups and societies think and behave.

What is the aim? The main objective of this essay competition is to explore the ways in which social scientific research enriches and informs society and contributes to the improvement of living standards in the global era.

This essay competition puts the emphasis on the ‘Social’ defined as a ‘whole’ rather than being compartmentalized into separate disciplines. Social does not only refer to interaction, communication, media, networks, and history, but it also suggests investigating the central place of memory, consciousness, ideologies, translation, theorization, feelings of belonging, norms, and rituals.

Besides, the social does not only involve rational choice, cost-benefit calculations, coercive power, agency, and strategy; it also includes different types of rationality such as rule following, heuristics, conspiracies, morality and ethics. It does not solely cover history-making ‘grand bargains’, top-down rules, direct actions and revolutionary movements. It also explores non-decisions, structures, bottom- up processes, disinterested others, and daily practices such as gift-giving and leisure.

Finally, this essay competition understands globalisation as a key component of social sciences. Globalisation can be seen as both homogenizing and heterogenizing social life at the same time: humanity is increasingly considered as ‘one’ community living in a ‘global village’ but it also values and promotes diversity, i.e. the preservation of authentic cultures, religions, identities, languages, food, dress, sports, music, theatre, traditions, institutions, norms, beliefs, and rites.


Open to all social scientists (PhD students and junior scholars are welcome).

Word length

5000–7000 words (exclusive of references and endnotes)


There will be 1 winner + 3 honorable mentions + certificates

Submission deadline

15 June 2014

Submissions and requests for further information should be sent to Dr Didem Buhari-Gulmez in both Word or PDF format to

In partnership with Royal Holloway University of London and Brunel University.

Communication, Media and Culture lecturer contributes to book on scary monsters

Tom Tyler, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Culture, has recently had his work on the Mythical beast ‘Donestre’ published in Ashgate’s encyclopaedia; providing an “authoritative A–Z of monsters throughout the ages”.


The image above shows a Donestre  devouring a human. Source: Marvels of the East (Anglo-Saxon, c. 1050) London, British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius B. v., fol. 83v.

Tom’s entry to the Encyclopaedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters focuses on the ‘Donestre’; a mythical beast with the body of a human and a lion-like head. It was believed that these creatures would deceive humans into coming near to them, then devour

them, keep their heads intact. The ‘Donestre’ is often pictured weeping
alongside the head of its victim though the reason for this is unknown. One of
the main theories is that the ‘Donestre’ was grieving for his victim and showing
remorse for what it had done.

Luckily there have been no recent reported sightings of the ‘Donestre’
around the Oxfordshire area, though perhaps be wary if you should happen to
stumble on a man with a human’s body and a lion’s head.

You can read Tom’s entire entry to the encyclopaedia here:

Parisian adventures for Brookes Art History students

DSCF1349-e1394717605512Every spring, Oxford Brookes second-year History of Art students get the opportunity to study in Paris.

Students and staff stay in a hostel converted from 17th-century houses in the Marais, a centrally located and extraordinarily evocative area. A broad range of guided visits are offered; this year they range from highlights of the great collections of the Louvre to Monet’s Water Lilies at the Orangerie, from the Gothic glories of the Sainte Chapelle to Le Courbusier’s modernist masterpiece, the Villa la Roche.

The field trip to Paris is a very important feature of the Brookes History of Art programme. Students undertake it in the second semester of their second year, so it stands right at the heart of their course. The field trip is not only a great academic experience, but also a valuable social one, giving the whole second year an opportunity to spend an extended period together. The guided visits provide the opportunity to concentrate in detail on individual works, small groups of works or monuments, thus building on the experience of studying works of art and architecture at first hand that forms a central part of our teaching. For most students it proves to be an unforgettable part of their Oxford Brookes degree.