(NB this seminar blockade may contain traces of academia - but also artists and activists too!)
Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Burghfield, Berkshire, UK 16 June 2016
Convenors: Kye Askins (University of Glasgow), Kelvin Mason (University of Liverpool)
Early in 2016, the UK government looks set to vote to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system. This decision is contested on many levels of society, including ethically, economically and strategically. Moral critics argue that pursuing a policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is based on vengeance psychology rather than any logical form of justice. Meanwhile, the cost and any economic benefit of Trident replacement is hotly debated. The government puts the bill at up to £20bn, but the independent Trident Commission’s 2014 figure was £100bn when running costs over a 40-year lifespan are included. More recent estimates rise to £167bn. Military critics argue that replacing Trident is irrelevant to contemporary forms of conflict.
Further, there are ongoing debates about links between conflict and climate change. While some analysts argue that climate change is central in causing conflict, others believe that the causes are political and institutional. A contingent proposal is that priorities for research and policy should be detailed analyses of particular conflicts and their nuanced relationship with climate change. In this call for participation, we wish to extend that interest to widen relations between conflict, particularly nuclear conflict and its requisite institutions, development and infrastructures, and a range of impacts on environments, nature and society.
Increasingly in many social movements, activists are concerned with developing positive alternatives beyond resistance against. If we oppose nuclear weapons, what do we advocate? If we wish to mitigate climate change, how should we meet and/or reduce society’s demand for energy? What could be the benefits of investing money spent on Trident replacement elsewhere? In alignment with such activism, academics are exploring radical alternatives to conflict, including humanity’s ‘assault’ on our environment. To borrow from the meme of the climate justice movement, if we are nature defending itself, how should we construct that defence? Must it be non-violent? How might we imagine and build a world living in peace with nature, at peace with ourselves?
This day of academic intervention is being held in the ‘No War - No Warming’ part of the June month of direct action at AWE Burghfield organised by Trident Ploughshares. We seek to develop the practice of the Academic Seminar Blockade as a normalised part of the academic repertoire in which direct action is an engaged and engaging form of research and pedagogy. This creative and politicised form of academia works by being both a seminar and a blockade, intended to transform everyday practices of the academy into a creative act of struggle and solidarity with social movements. This day of intervention, then, constitutes a form of constructive resistance, in which we wish to defend academic inquiry and critical reflection on the complex issues surrounding climate change and (nuclear) conflict. We aim to do this by practising critical scholarship while simultaneously and positively re-making public space to reflect on these issues – reclaiming the intellectual commons of democratic debate and accountability.
We thus seek participation across disciplines, from both within and beyond institutionalised academia, on any issues relevant to this call. We envisage holding a form of seminar, with papers, questions and debate, and are especially interested in theoretical contributions that make links to the materiality, relationality and ecology of the place where we gather, AWE Burghfield. Proposals in the standard form of 250 word abstracts are encouraged in this regard. We further intend a wider day of action that also incorporates creative interventions in forms that might include:
- Games and play
- Space-making - physically remaking AWE as a place of non-violence and sustainability
We are open to diverse proposals and ideas regarding these.
There is no seminar fee; there is no seminar budget. We will circulate local accommodation possibilities nearer the time, and will be working out logistics for the day together with local activists. Such details must necessarily follow nearer the event.
We are also interested in developing a permanent record of the action, publishing papers and contributions in appropriate fora.
Please send abstracts and proposal for interventions to:
Kelvin Mason Kelvin.Mason at liverpool.ac.uk and
Kye Askins Kye.Askins at glasgow.ac.uk
See Trident Ploughshares and our Facebook event
(Thanks to Stellan Vinthagen for the photo)