Voice and listening: Techniques for political life – programme now available

Date & Time:

25th March, 10:00


Online event; the link will be shared with those who register.


Voice and listening: Techniques for political life
'Flipped conference' symposium on 25 March 2021.

This symposium organised as a flipped conference invites a transdisciplinary debate on the politics, ethics and practice of voice and listening.

We address the conference theme inviting a collective, critical reflection guided by, but not limited to, crucial questions, such as : are we currently witnessing and experiencing a ‘crisis of voice’ (Couldry, 2008)? Who has a voice? Whose voices are heard, and meaningfully engaged with, and whose are not? What does it mean to listen to others, or, conversely, to ignore them?

We pose these questions with the acute awareness that the current global Covid-19 pandemic has not only exposed the fragility of human life to a dramatic extent, but has simultaneously revealed the ecological, societal and political dysfunctions that maintain and reproduce our unequal world.

We aim to problematise, unpack and interrogate the tensions that arise at the intersection of social movements, political and media representation. For instance, the media coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement and Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals have arguably contributed to give voice to young people of colour and elicited public concern over persistent forms of structural inequality in the UK. However, while the government has asserted its intention to listen to their voices, its political response and proposed solutions have, so far, been insufficient or questionable.

It is therefore important that we situate these questions within the wider context of post-politics and disinformation. How might we learn from movements and campaigns which have tried to create space for unheard, marginalised voices?

The event will take the form of a ‘flipped conference’, meaning that speakers will do short presentations complemented by ‘position statements’ on the BCMCR website (bcmcr.org) and available to read prior to the event. We strongly encourage both delegates and participants to read the blog posts in advance, to contribute meaningfully to the debate.

Event programme

10AM-10:20 First plenary session: From the outside in

Engaging with all senses, this session will explore what is heard/unheard and conversely what is seen/unseen. It will examine questions of the body and performance to explore perspectives which have been marginalised and look from the outside in. With Ryan Sinclair (spoken word poet), Dr. Gemma Commane (BCU), and Dr. Amber Lascelles (University of Bristol). Chair: Kirsten Forkert.

Discussion (15-20 minutes)

5-10 minute break

11AM- 11:30AM Panel Listening inwards and outwards

This panel will explore listening inwards and outwards (on a personal and institutional level). We will explore what causes disjunctions/fractures between listening and out, and whether institutions reproduce these fractures, and the role of self-care. With Gaylene Gould (independent arts producer) and Prof. Kate Lacey (University of Sussex). Chair: Ian Sergeant.

Discussion (15-20 minutes)

12PM Spoken word performance and Q&A by Sipho Ndlovu

Chair: Jill Robinson.

LUNCH – 12:30-1:30

1:30-2:30 Deep Listening workshop with Ximena Alarcon.

Facilitated by Ed McKeon.

15 minute break

2:45 Second Plenary: Where do we go from here?

The final plenary asks how we can engage in collective action without reproducing institutionalised modes of privileging one voice over another and how can political and educational institutions be(come) more inclusive and democratic spaces.

Can this be achieved within or without the institution? What does a practice of decolonisation look like, sound like, feel like? With Dalia Gebrial (LSE), Bobbie-Jane Gardner (BCU), and Zrinka Bralo (Migrants Organise). Chair: Fadia Dakka.


Reading list:

We’ve set up a reading list in connection with the event at this link which we invite you to populate.

The event has been supported by the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR) with the collaboration of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Practice in Education (CSPACE).