SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Trading Places? Empathy in Material Culture and Critical Methodologies


Date: 18 June 2018Time: 9:30 AM

Finishes: 19 June 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Conference

Day 1 Monday 18th June 2018

Room B102, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London


Registration, tea and coffee


Welcome remarks

Professor Francesca Orsini (SOAS), chair of CCLPS


Keynote address

Dr Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent): Decolonising Empathy: Thinking Affect Transnationally

Chair: Annie Webster (SOAS)

Dr Carolyn Pedwell is Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at the University of Kent. She is the author of two research monographs: Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave: 2014) and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison (Routledge: 2010). Her third monograph, Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change, is under contract with McGill-Queens University Press.




Panel 1: Trading Stories

Chair: Dr Sara Marzagora (SOAS)

  • Lida Amiri (University of Liverpool): Stripping the reader of his/her prejudice: How to empathise with the anonymous fundamentalist in Atiq Rahimi’s Syngué Sabour
  • Christie Cheng (SOAS, University of London): Moral judgement through empathy in Jack Neo’s I Not Stupid and Money No Enough
  • Walaa Said (University of Marburg): Negotiating Empathy in Dystopian Worlds: JM Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarian (1980) and Ahmad Khaled Towfeek’s Utopia (2008)


A sandwich buffet will be provided for conference participants; tea and coffee


Panel 2: (Re)Cognising Empathy

Chair: James Rakoczi (King’s College London)

  • Xi Liu (University of Sheffield): Schizoanalysis: Charting Empathy in Filmic Affects
  • Mary Goody (Goldsmiths, University of London): Lending one’s body to the other? Figurative sculpture, mirror-touch synaesthesia and physical empathy
  • Alexander Aston (University of Oxford): Where the Rising Ape Meets the Falling Angel: An Archaeology of Empathy



Panel 3: Beyond the Human

Chair: TBC

  • Cathryn Ladd (University of Sheffield): Sensing the Feminist Empathetic Researcher
  • Aya ElBably (British University in Egypt): An Ecocritical Reading of Nature’s Empathetic Representation in Popular Culture
  • Hira Nabi (independent filmmaker): All That Perishes on the Edge of Land

Conference reception

Day 1 Monday 18th June 2018

Room B102, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London

9:30am-10:00am Registration, tea and coffee

Keynote panel: Empathy in Practice

Chair: Jack Clift (SOAS)

The keynote panel brings together representatives from the worlds of activism and the arts to discuss the practical uses – and limitations – of empathy in their work. Speakers will include:




Panel 4: Curating Empathy

Chair: Fuchsia Hart (University of Oxford, Victoria & Albert Museum)

  • Katherine Quinn (University of Warwick): The body in the library: capturing ordinary empathy through doodling library space
  • Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay (Edinburgh College of Art): The museum audioguide as a tool for empathies and opacities
  • Rakesh Sengupta (SOAS, University of London): The Death of the Author in Pyaasa


A sandwich buffet will be provided for conference participants; tea and coffee


Panel 5: Memory, Mourning and Materiality

Chair: Hana Sandhu (SOAS)

  • Tristam Vivian Adams (Goldsmiths, University of London): Selfish Altruism: Exploring the Moral Status of Empathic Reaction
  • Allison Needels (SOAS, University of London): Expressions of Postmemory in Contemporary Korean Literature
  • Aman Gupta (University of Oxford): The Commemoration of Slavery: Dominant and Counter-Narratives in Bristol
  • Pau Cata (University of Edinburgh): BQT_Beyond Qafila Thania: On empathy, embodiment and curatorial phenomenology



Plenary: Empathy in the (Cultural) Institution

Chairs: Annie Webster (SOAS) & Jack Clift (SOAS)

In the plenary panel, we will explore how empathy manifests itself in cultural institutions, and debate the uses and limits of empathy in attempts at liberation and decolonisation in universities such as SOAS.

Discussants will include:

For more information on the CCLPS Postgraduate Conference 2018, visit our website.

Follow us on Twitter (@Empathy_SOAS) and Facebook (EmpathySOAS) for frequent updates about the conference and our featured speakers.

We are grateful for the support of the following partners in organising this conference:

  • SOAS Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)
  • SOAS Doctoral School
  • SOAS Student Union

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