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Festival of Politics and International Relations 2019

The annual Politics and International Relations Festival, organised by the University’s Politics & International Relations academic group, is a week-long festival of events taking place at City Campus.

The programme contains talks, discussions and debates on a range of social, political and economic issues – contemporary and historical, national and global - involving a range of invited speakers (including MPs, campaigners and academics) as well as members of the Politics & IR group at the University.

Events are open to all and are free to attend. Please take a look at the programme below and register your attendance.

Festival Programme
Tuesday 19 November
Student Sustainability Conference

The Student Sustainability Conference is one day event run by the Sustainability Team for our students, to either present your work or attend as a delegate.

The event will explore all aspects of sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and encourage debate, or collaboration, between you and fellow students from other courses.

To find out more and to register go to:


Tuesday 19 November 
12:00 - 13:00 Rose Bowl 526
From Human Trafficking to Modern Slavery: Policy development in the UK

Speaker:Dr Rose Broad, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, School of Law, University of Manchester

Chair: Dr Robin Redhead

Modern slavery covers a diverse range of activities which can be difficult to conceptualise under one coherent framework. This presentation will introduce the concepts of human trafficking and modern slavery, the activities defined under relevant legislation and consider the policy development of modern slavery in the UK. In this context, case studies will be presented from a current research project in order to encourage students to consider the complex ways in which both perpetrators and victims become involved and the challenges faced by the criminal justice system in dealing with these cases. The case studies will focus on sexual exploitation and domestic servitude.


Wednesday 20 November
15:00 - 16:00 
Postgraduate Employability Workshop
(Level 7/Masters)

John Willott and Maria O’Reilly 

This session is designed for current Level 7 (Masters) students to discuss future careers and employability, and the support available. Content will include  

  • University online resources 
  • Job searches, volunteering & internships 
  • CV writing 
  • Understanding job advertisements – role description and person specification
  • Requirements for studying a PhD 
Wednesday 20 November
16:30 - 18:00 Woodhouse Lecture Theatre 1
Corbynism and Left Populism

Speakers: Dr Jonathan Dean (Leeds University), Dr Joseph Ibrahim (Leeds Beckett University) and Aneesa Akbar (Momentum)

In recent years politics in the UK and many other countries in Europe and beyond has been shaken up by the rise of populist parties and movements. Though most often associated with the right, some commentators see populism as a style of politics that can be adopted on both left and right. This session will explore understandings of populism, whether ‘Corbynism’ should be seen as a form of left populism and whether Labour can win on the basis of a populist approach.

Jonathan Dean is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Leeds. His research focuses on the theory and practice of left politics, including: the politics of Corbynism, the relation between feminism and left politics, media/culture within UK left politics, and the relationship between left politics and populism. He also has a longstanding interest in feminist, post-Marxist and poststructuralist political theory. His recent work has been published in British Politics, Political Studies Review, Politics and Gender, Capital and Class, and Renewal.

Joseph Ibrahim is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Leeds Beckett University. His research interests are in social theory, social and political movements, mobilisations, campaigns, and other forms of political engagement and collective action. He has completed numerous research projects that have resulted in published work in the following journals: Sociology, Journal of Contemporary Social Science, and Social Movement Studies. He is the author of Bourdieu and Social Movements: Ideological struggles in the British Anti-capitalist Movement (2015, Palgrave) and he has recently coedited a two volume collection, Contemporary Left-wing Activism: Democracy, Participation and Dissent in a Global Context (2019, Routledge).

Aneesa Akbar represents Central ward on Hull City Council for Labour. She is a member of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group and a member of the Labour party’s Regional Board. Aneesa is a candidate in the selection process for the parliamentary seat of Hull North.

Thursday 21 November
09:30 - 11:00 Rose Bowl 310
Volunteering Presentations

Current Level 6 (3rd year) students will give assessed presentations for the Active Politics and Volunteering module. Current Level 4 (1st year) and Level 5 (2nd year) students are invited to attend in order to find out more about the types of volunteering undertaken by PIR students and how the level 6 module is assessed (Sophia Price)

Thursday 21 November
11:00 - 12:30 Rose Bowl Lecture Theatre F
The Crisis of Truth?

Dr Tom Houseman & Dr Paul Wetherly

Truth and the hollow subject (Tom Houseman)

Prevailing ideas about truth often characterise it as something external, eternal and independent of human lived experience. But just as there is no knowledge without a knower, there is no truth without a subject. In contrast to the pretensions of abstract enlightenment philosophy, that subject has a specific history and geography; it is and always has been entangled in social relations, the domination of nature by ‘man’ and the domination of other humans. If we are now in an age where ‘truth’ is in crisis, the blame does not only lay at the door of postmodernism, social media, or “populism”. Instead, it is because the social relations that once naturalised and concealed themselves behind the veneer of objectivity and pristine rationality are themselves in crisis. This part of the session interrogates the social, political and historical basis of the concept of Truth, especially the colonial inheritance that runs through the enlightenment subject, before offering some speculative conclusions about the current crises in political discourse.

Truth, Post-Truth and Democracy (Paul Wetherly)

This part of the session will consider the role of truth in relation to the democratic ideal, the nature of political ideologies as attempts to fix contested understandings of truth as common sense, and the challenge presented to democracy by ‘post-truth’ politics.


Thursday 21 November
12:30 - 14:00 Rose Bowl Lecture Theatre F
Why has Brexit taken so long … and why will it take even longer?  

Speakers: Dr Chris Byrne & Dr Sophia Price.

Brexit was supposed to be easy. That was according to many of its supporters way back in 2016. But things have not turned out like that. And even with a deal it isn’t over. Chris and Sophia will explain how we got here and where we might be going. The talk will be followed by Q&A and a not-to-be-missed opportunity to Ask Me Anything on Brexit.


Thursday 21 November
14:00 - 15:00 Rose Bowl 229
Implementing the Sustainable Development Goalss: Connecting International and Local Action at YCL & LBU

Speakers: Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin (Young Creative Leaders) & Mark Warner (Leeds Beckett University Sustainability Manager)

Chair: Hannah Temme (Year 3, BA (Hons) International Relations & Global Development)

This presentation will explore the purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals and their significance on both a local and an international level. Director of the Young Creative Leaders (YCL), Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin will discuss the process of implementing SDGs through an organisation, YCL’s underlying values and ambitions based on this international agenda, and how individuals can use the SDGs as a guide towards making impacts of their own. Mark Warner will give his take on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and look at the ones he thinks are most relevant to our university. He will then explain how they are being implemented across the university and how they are integrated into the NUS Green Impact scheme.

Edenamiuki Aiguobasinmwin is a creative practitioner and social entrepreneur with a Masters in Choreography, concerned with designing and implementing sustainable approaches to supporting artists, entrepreneurs and leaders through the Young Creative Leaders and Elevate Young Minds initiatives. Edenamiuki’s leadership efforts have been recognised by the United Nations, Common Wealth, Future Team Russia, alongside the Sri Lanka Government. YCL recently received multiple awards from Plural+, and attended COPEAM 2019, to collect their special award.

Mark Warner has been the sustainability Manager at Leeds Beckett for the last 17 years and manages a dedicated team of 3. He has gained accreditation to the international environmental standard ISO 14001 for the university, developed and implemented the university’s carbon and sustainable transport strategies, worked with Estate Services to make new builds and refurbishments more sustainable, which includes Passihaus accreditation for two townhouses at Carnegie Village, he maintains our legal compliance to schemes such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment and has overall responsibility for staff and student sustainability engagement programmes.


Thursday 21 November
16:00 - 17:30 Rose Bowl Lecture Theatre G
The Silent Victim: Conflict & The Environment

This event will highlight the interconnectedness between environmental justice, peace and demilitarisation. The panel of activists and academics will discuss how the environment is the 'silent victim' of conflict.  We hope to inspire a dialogue that bridges the gap between peace and climate movements, recognising the deep environmental impact of the military industrial complex and that national militaries are one of the world's largest emitters of carbon.


Uche Okpara is an environmental social scientist working across water, climate, conflict, lake degradation and human security. Uche’s PhD project was titled ‘Characterising the relationships between climate, context and conflict in the Lake Chad basin’. Uche will be presenting his case study of the Lake Chad area, where rebels have occupied the Zambezi Forest and consequently destabilised the region. He will explain how the environment has been used as a weapon of war, with water contamination threatening human security in the area. He will also discuss the ecological damage from the years of conflict, and the failure of the international community to recognise the deep threats posed by Boko Haram both socially and environmentally in the area.

Doug Weir has worked on conflict and the environment since 2005 and is the director of the Conflict and Environmental Observatory ( This ground-breaking organisation looks exclusively at the environmental impacts of armed conflicts. They work to make sure the impact is documented and addressed, and that those affected are helped. The organisation has produced extensive reports on the ‘hidden victim’ of the world’s current large-scale conflicts. These include Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. Doug will speak about how growing visibility for the environment in war and peace is driving policy change intended to minimise and mitigate the effects of armed conflicts on the environment and on the people who depend on it.

Leonie Nimmo, director and journalist for 9 years at The Ethical Consumer magazine, is the Associate Researcher at The Conflict and Environment Observatory. As well as years of research into palm oil production and other consumer goods, she now researches environmental warfare and its effects in areas including the Occupied Palestinian territories and Yemen. She will be presenting the water and sanitation emergency in Yemen, and how the observatory are using advanced satellite imagery to detect the impact of the conflict on vital water supplies for millions of people, and how the destruction of such infrastructure is a tactical move from the UK-backed Saudi forces. She will link her anti-arms trade activism, specifically our governments military ties to oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, directly to catastrophic environmental degradation. The global arms trade and trends of increased militarisation threaten civilian and climate security as a result of huge carbon emissions, infrastructure targeting and long-lasting yet little documented effects of advanced weaponry on soil, air and water.

Organiser: Eva McQuade. Eva is in her second year of BA (Hons) International Relations & Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett, and is president of the Beckett for Palestine Society

Thursday 21 November
18:00 - 20:00 Rose Bowl Lecture Theatre B (437)
Howard Clark Memorial Lecture
Who's the Radical? Militarisation, Conscientious Objection, and the Significance of Context

Speaker: Sergeiy Sandler

Sergeiy Sandler is a pacifist and antimilitarist activist and conscientious objector from Israel. He has been an active member of the Israeli feminist antimilitarist movement New Profile since 1999 and a member of the War Resisters’ International Council since 2002 (WRI’s Executive Committee since 2006), currently serving as the Treasurer in both organisations.

Chair: Dr Rachel Julian, Director of Centre for Applied Social Research (CeASR)

For more information and to register your place at this event, please go to:


Friday 22 November
11:00 - 12:00 Rose Bowl 313
Gender, Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. 
Can women benefit from war? Transforming widowhood in Nepal. 

Dr. Punam Yadav (UCL Centre for Gender and Disaster) 

Chair: Dr Maria O’Reilly (Leeds Beckett University)

Before the People’s War (1996) in Nepal, widows were not allowed to wear anything other than the white sari, especially in Hindu families. It was a common practice even among highly educated women. Widows were considered impure and carriers of bad luck as a result of which they were excluded from public events, such as weddings and religious ceremonies. This belief system was deeply entrenched in the history of the country spanning thousands of years. However, when hundreds of women became widows during the People’s War in Nepal, they started organizing themselves and resisting the discriminatory practice of the white sari. This presentation explores how widows of Nepal subverted thousands of years of this oppressive practice. It also examines the challenges that they faced in the era of the white sari and the citizenship benefits that they have achieved after liberating themselves from the shroud of widowhood.

Dr Punam Yadav is a Senior Research Fellow and the Co-Director of the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster, University College London. Prior to this, she was Research Fellow in the Centre for Women, Peace and Security and Teaching Fellow in the Department of Gender Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She started her professional career as a development practitioner in Nepal and worked with various International and National NGOs before starting her academic career in 2010. Dr Yadav is the author of Social Transformation in Post-conflict Nepal: A Gender perspective (Routledge, 2016). Her research interest includes: Women, Peace and Security; Gender and Disaster, Women’s Agency, Post-conflict Transformation. 


Friday 22 November
13:00 - 14:45 Rose Bowl 444
"Tell the Truth!” “Act Now!” The Political Change We Need To Tackle The Climate Crisis

Alex Sobel, Parliamentary Candidate (Labour, Leeds North West). Alex will talk about the Environmental Audit Committee’s Enquiry into Planetary Health and Labour’s proposal for a Green New Deal.

Lydia Dibben, Local Coordinator for Extinction Rebellion, will talk about the justification and effectiveness of civil disobedience as a form of political protest.

Jenni Wall is a member and activist with the UK Student Climate Network. Jenni will reflect on UKSCN's demands, methods and impact, and where to go from here.


Friday 22 November
15:00 - 17:00 Rose Bowl 457
Challenging Gendered Politics

Rachel Reeves, Parliamentary Candidate (Labour, Leeds West) will talk about her latest book Women of Westminster followed by Q&A.

The talk will be followed by a panel discussion on challenging the under-representation of women and sexual inequality in politics, parliament and government for which Rachel Reeves will be joined by Abigail Marshall Katung, Leeds City Councillor (Labour & Co-operative Party, Little London and Woodhouse) and Dr Sophia Price (Leeds Beckett University). 


Event Details

18 November 2019 -
22 November 2019
09:00 - 17:00
City Campus - Various locations. Please refer to programme
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