12 -13 May 2012
A two day symposium
to discuss and respond to the global crisis
Co-organised by the Department of Politics and International Relations
and the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

As the current economic crisis unfolds, glib talk of 'lack of confidence' has given way to anxiety, fear and anger. But as yet, no common understanding of the nature of the crisis or of its many dimensions has emerged. Clearly, it is an economic and political crisis, but it is also one of the arts and sciences, religion and morality, and as such it poses major challenges to experts in these areas to explain and respond. It is also a broader intellectual crisis, for despite rhetoric about unity - globalisation, shared values and common ideals - we remain divided by disciplines from a language to speak in common about our troubles.
The aim of the symposium is simply to ask intellectuals of many different backgrounds to come together to talk to one another about where we are now, how we got here, and how we can overcome the crisis.
What kind of crisis are we in? With what can we compare it historically? How should we portray, research and combat it in our work? Are the powerful in society capable of rising to its challenges? How can the weak, who are most affected by it, organise themselves? Can we as symposium participants find a common language to help us move forward?

Engaging with the crisis requires specialist knowledge and so the symposium will bring together specialists to talk from their own perspectives, including economists and political scientists; artists, film- makers, novelists, painters; historians and sociologists; journalists and commentators; religious thinkers and philosophers. The quality of contributions from those specialists will be of great importance to its success. But so too will the desired focus of each participant on communicating insights across disciplinary boundaries, with the aim of agreeing on, or at least seeing the outlines of, shared understandings of the crisis and its solutions.
The symposium will follow a straightforward programme over two days, May 12-13, 2012. We will convene in a room that holds up to 100 people. In each session, speakers will speak for 15 minutes each followed by open discussion. A final session will summarise the results and point to conclusions and ways forward. Presentations and these conclusions will then be reworked in light of discussions for publication in a collective volume. It is also likely that it will be covered in the press, and possibly on the broadcast media.

Department of
Politics and

The following programme outlines a draft structure only. We have some promises among the names listed about who will attend. We invite you to join us. It may be that speakers, including yourself, will prefer alternative slots and topics from the ones we list, to which we are entirely open. We welcome your views about how to make this event better suited to its subject.

Stephen Whitefield, Maxim Kantor and Jon Whiteley

The Current Crisis Through the Lens of History
Eric Hobsbawm, David Priestland, Antonio Negri

The Crisis and the Arts
What are our subjects and how shall we make them?
John le Carre, Arundhati Roy

A Crisis of Civilisation?
Vittorio Hosle, Timothy Radcliffe, Malise Ruthven

Crisis in and of Economics
David Ruccio, David Hendry, Will Hutton

Are our media capable of explaining the crisis?
George Monbiot, Polly Toynbee, Roger Graef

Are our rulers capable of resolving the crisis? And in whose favour?
Jacques Attali, Ken Livingstone

Are our societies finding solutions for themselves?
Nancy Bermeo, Ferenc Miszlivetz, Ken Loach

Conclusions: What have we learned? What should be done next?

CONTACT: Dr Stephen Whitefield
Department of Politics and International Relations University of Oxford, Manor Road, Oxford 0X1 3UQ (T) +44 1865 278700, (F) +44 1865 278725 Email: stephen.whitefield@politics.ox.ac.uk