Turkey: internal turmoil, international concern

The internal stability and political allegiance of Turkey are of great international importance. Its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, took office in August 2014, after 12 years as prime minister. Although he brought economic and political stability to the country and faced down a powerful military establishment which had previously ousted governments in the name of secular values, he is now seeking changes to the constitution to create an executive presidency, and faces accusations of increasing authoritarianism and human rights infringements. A failed military coup in July, and Erdogan’s response in the name of the ‘national will’ have increased tensions within the country where a state of emergency has now been declared. Ayça Çubukçu, Assistant Professor in Human Rights in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at LSE, will discuss this explosive situation. Her work focuses on the politics of transnational solidarity, and the ethics and politics of violence. She has published and spoken widely on social and political conditions in Turkey, and is a co-editor of Jadaliyya’s Turkey page.

The Brexit vote and European populist movements: the link with migration and globalisation

Many commentators were shocked by the Brexit vote and branded British voters who wanted to leave the EU xenophobic and/or stupid. Having spent over a decade reporting from some of the UK’s hotspots for migration from Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, and having investigated supply chains in Southern and Eastern Europe, Africa and South East Asia, Felicity Lawrence was writing before the referendum about the more complex motivations of local populations  turning against globalisation and the institutions that promote it.

A Guardian special correspondent and author of the bestselling books about the global food business, Not on the Label and Eat Your Heart Out , she has tracked the casualisation of work globally and followed some of the transnational crime that now runs a significant part of labour supply to the mainstream economy in developed countries. The response of many voters has been to turn to the right, but it is precisely the hard right with its ideological obsession with shrinking the state and curtailing labour rights that has created a vacuum in which criminal activity and illegal employment has flourished. Recent articles include “ The Gangsters on our Doorstep “ and “ Don’t keep migrant workers out, strengthen workers rights


Poland: The revolution of the populist right and the threat to democracy in Eastern Europe

Having come to power in 2015, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party stands accused of attempting to reverse the country’s democratic transition by seizing control of Poland’s independent democratic institutions. Commonly labelled conservative or nationalist, Law and Justice blends the religious and patriotic rituals of Poland’s long history of resistance to foreign oppression with hostility to free-market capitalism and a heavy dose of conspiracy regarding the machinations of Poland’s enemies. Yet surprisingly this right wing populist movement has come to power at a time when Poland is more prosperous than it has ever been.

Christian Davies is a journalist and writer who has lived and worked in Poland. He will look at the background to the success of the Law and Justice party in Poland and the impact of the new right wing populism on Poland and Eastern Europe.  Link to Guardian audio on “The Conspiracy Theorists who have taken over Poland”

Yemen: Making sense of the political and humanitarian crisis

The full scale war which has engulfed Yemen for the last eighteen months has led to a disastrous humanitarian situation. More than 21million out of 26 million Yemenis need basic assistance and 2.8 million are displaced.  The World Food Programme has only reached fifty percent of the 7.6million people on the verge of starvation. Yemen has become the battleground for the regional and geopolitical rivalries  which are consuming the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, supported by the US and UK governments, one of the key participants in the conflict. 

 Helen Lackner is  the leading authority on the  Yemen. She has worked in all parts of the Yemen since the 1970s and has lived there for close to 15 years. She has written about the country’s political economy as well as social and economic issues. She edited Why Yemen Matters (Saqi books 2014) and is currently working on a book about the current situation and its origins to be published by Saqi in 2017.  She will look at the background to the conflict, the prospects for peace in the light of the talks in Kuwait and the impact of the conflict in Yemen on the wider politics of the Middle East.

Global Powerhouse: The International Financial Markets and the City of London

The City, as London’s financial centre is known, is the world’s biggest international banking and foreign exchange market, shaping the development of global capital. It is also a crucial part of the mechanism of power in the world economy.All big international companies – not just the banks – utilise this system, and the operations of the City of London are critical both for British capitalism and for world finance. Tony Norfield is a Marxist economist who completed his PhD at SOAS after 20 years of experience in City of London financial dealing rooms, and ten years as an executive director and global head of Foreign Exchange strategy in a major European bank. He will examine the nature of our modern financial system, the role of the US dollar in global trading, the network of British-linked tax havens, the flows of finance around the world and the system of power built upon financial securities. His book The City: London and the Global Power of Financewas published by Verso in April 2016.

South Africa – a quarter century after the end of Apartheid

South Africa has the second largest economy in Africa and has experienced a prolonged period of economic growth.  However the economy is now stagnating with low growth, unemployment at more than 25 per cent, inequality and poverty at high levels and violence and corruption endemic in South African society and the political system.

Stephen Chan is Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He was an international civil servant involved with several key diplomatic initiatives in Africa, helping to pioneer modern electoral observation, and continues to be seconded to diplomatic assignments today. He has twice been Dean at SOAS and has published 29 books. He won the 2010 International Studies Association prize, Eminent Scholar in Global Development, and broadcasts and lectures internationally. He will consider the record of the ANC which has been in power for more than twenty years and the prospects for overcoming the huge problems that face South Africa now.

The Global Empowerment of Women: a political struggle for more equitable distribution of power and resources 

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 00.17.13Around the world women are more likely than men to live in poverty. Patriarchal power relations and subordinating systems of governance and culture leave them without access to land, income, or decision making, and deny them education and political participation. They are routinely subjected to violence and sexual abuse, frequently married as children or victimised by dowry or honour-related crimes, or trafficked into forced labour and prostitution. Changing this state of inequality and discrimination and transforming the norms and structures responsible is a complex multi-dimensional process, crucially involving participation and influence of the women themselves. Pilar Domingo will examine this state of affairs and discuss how it may be remedied. She is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, where she has worked on gender equality and women’s rights, and political transitions, and leads work on rule of law and justice sector reform. She has published widely within these areas, and specifically on issues of gender equality, women’s voice and leadership, and access to decision-making roles. See youtube discussion.

The Last Taboo: What to do about the global sanitation crisis?

Maggie BlackAlthough holy men in India claim otherwise on their own behalf, every person on the planet has to divest themselves of wastes on a continuing basis. Yet 2.4 billion people still have nowhere decent or hygienic to do so. There are many reasons for the global sanitation crisis, from technological to economic to political. But overshadowing them all are the socio-cultural taboos surrounding these unfortunate bodily processes and what to do with their result. Maggie Black has been writing on water, sanitation and hygiene issues as they affect people in poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America since she was first commissioned by UNICEF to write a book for the 1990s Water and Sanitation Decade. Several others followed, culminating in The Last Taboo published for World Sanitation Year 2008. She now revisits the topic and asks: Has anything changed?

Oceans: conserving our threatened life support system

Professor Callum Roberts – 25 April, 2016 – 18:45Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 08.39.09

Oceans form the earth’s largest life support system. They produce 50% of the earth’s oxygen, and absorb the majority of our carbon. They are a crucial part of the cycle that produces our rain, and provide over a billion people with seafood as a main source of protein. But overfishing, the destruction of coastal habitats, pollution and climate change are threatening their health and the very survival of the vital ecosystem that depends upon them. This deteriorating situation imperils us all.

Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York. His research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them. His main research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life, both historic and modern, and exploring the effectiveness of marine protected areas. For the last 25 years he has used his science background to make the case for stronger protection for marine life at both national and international levels. His award winning book, The Unnatural History of the Seacharts the effects of 1000 years of exploitation on ocean life. Callum’s most recent book, Ocean of life: how our seas are changing, shows how the oceans are changing under human influence and was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Science Book Prize. His research team provided the scientific underpinning for half a million square kilometres of marine protection in the North Atlantic that was established at the OSPAR ministerial meeting in September 2010. In 2015 he was named by BBC Wildlife Magazine as one of the UK’s fifty most influential conservation heroes.

Venezuela: can the Bolivarian Revolution resist the forces of the right?

In December lVenezuelaast year Venezuela’s political right wing gained a majority in the National Assembly, defeating the country’s socialist PSUV party, which for 17 years has worked unremittingly in the interests of the most vulnerable sectors of society. Supported by the US and the neo-liberal block, this right-wing resurgence has destabilised the country and provoked dismay among the left leaning countries of Latin America, which have formed a new Parliamentary Network to confront the threat of neo-liberalism in the region. To make matters worse, the collapse of global oil prices and an unprecedented rise in inflation have adversely affected the economy, and President Maduro has been forced to declare a state of economic emergency. The National Assembly attempted unsuccessfully to block this measure, and its leader Henry Ramos Allup has now called for President Maduro to be removed from office. Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, and Secretary of the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign, will discuss this extremely grave situation with us.