2012 Hilde C. Stephansen

Annual Lecture 2012 ‘Movements, academia, and social processes of knowledge production: reflections on pedagogy and public spheres’

Hilde C. Stephansen (Goldsmiths, University of London)

14 May 2012, hosted by the Birkbeck Critical Pedagogies Reading Group and the Birkbeck Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice.

About the lecture

This talk will link the notion of critical pedagogy to broader social processes of knowledge production taking place outside or at the borders of academia. Developing a conception of social movements as knowledge producers, and adopting a perspective that emphasises the epistemic dimension of domination and emancipation, I will consider the significance of some current developments. Drawing on my recent research, I will focus on the World Social Forum (WSF) as a space of radical epistemic plurality that can facilitate pedagogical encounters across difference, providing concrete examples from the practices of alternative media activists. I will also offer some thoughts on the current Occupy movement, suggesting that its significance lays in the emphasis that activist place on collective knowledge production and mutual learning in their search for alternatives. Both the WSF and Occupy can be conceived as efforts to create public spheres in which academic and other forms of knowledge intersect in creative ways, raising questions about the privileged status of the university and the role that we as academic practitioners might play in broader social processes of knowledge production.

About Hilde C. Stephansen

Hilde C. Stephansen is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Sociology and a Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths, University of London. She recently received a PhD in Sociology for a thesis which explored the character and significance of media and communication in the World Social Forum, focusing on their relationship to processes of knowledge production and to the politics of place and scale in transnational social movement networks. Her research interests include the World Social Forum and social movements; alternative/citizens’ media and new communications technologies; media, participation and public spheres; feminist and non-Western epistemologies; ‘global’ ethnography and the politics of research; activism and academia.