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Durham Castle Lecture Series

Durham Castle Lecture Series

Now in its seventh year, The Durham Castle Lecture Series is devoted to bringing high-profile speakers to Durham who can contribute to academic and public discussion on issues of global significance. Each of the specially invited presenters has made an outstanding contribution to their field over a sustained period of time.

This is your chance to see, hear and learn from incredible speakers, to ask questions and think about answers.

The lectures take place in the stunning setting of Durham Castle's Great Hall. With a maximum capacity of 250 the Great Hall provides a unique, historic location.

All of the lectures in the series are free and open to all.

Doors open from 7.45pm.
Lectures begin at 8pm, with questions for the speaker at 9pm.

Please click on 'further information' on the lecture listing for information about seat availability.

Upcoming Lectures

24 October 2018 - Lionel Shriver

'A Conversation with Lionel Shriver'

Join us for a conversation between Lionel Shriver and Dr Zoe Roth, Assistant Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. An exploration of Lionel's work and career, this event will also give the opportunity for the audience to pose questions to the well-known novelist.

More information

21 November 2018 - Professor Alex de Waal

The Reckless Anthropocene

Anthropogenic biospheric disruptions, notably climate change, are creating a volatile global ecosystem. Resource disruptions and associated changes are contributing to political (dis)orders. Meanwhile, states are retreating from taking responsibility for governing global public goods, including the ecosphere, peace, finance, and a deliberative public sphere.

In this lecture, I argue that understanding these phenomena requires a deeper analysis of the dimensions of political disorder. I further suggest that a starting point for such theorization is the historic experience of persistently turbulent post-colonial societies and ‘fragile’ states. Based on such perspectives from the political margins, I develop a five-fold typology of disorder: lawlessness, chaos, incommensurability, instrumental disorder, and revolutionary disruption. Each of these is simultaneously beyond the frontier of political normalcy and embedded at the heart of power.

Liberal multilateralism, despite its flaws, is the best available governance system for responding to these challenges.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

More information

28 November 2018 - Professor Paul Collier

The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties

Abstract TBC

Sir Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and a Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College. From 1998–2003 he took a five-year Public Service leave during which he was Director of the Research Development Department of the World Bank. He is currently a Professeur invité at Sciences Po and a Director of the International Growth Centre.

More information

5 December 2018 - Dr Helen Hester


In an era of accelerating technology and increasing complexity, how should we reimagine the emancipatory potential of feminism? How should gender politics be reconfigured in a world being transformed by automation, globalization and the digital revolution?

Dr Helen Hester is Associate Professor of Media and Communication at the University of West London

23 January 2019 - Professor Linda Martin Alcoff

Sexual Subjectivity

This paper considers the larger aim of movements against sexual violence. I consider the focus on consent, and argue that this is inadequate as a way to demarcate harmful and harmless sex. I consider and criticize a trend toward libertarian approaches to sexualpractices. I develop a concept of sexual subjectivity, using the work of Foucault as well as others, to explore a more expansively pluralist, but normative approach to our sexual lives.

Linda Martín Alcoff is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College, City University of New York.

13 February 2019 - Professor Tamara Sonn

The Myth of Civilizations? Understanding Islam in Global Perspective

In 2018, Euro-America celebrated the centenary of the conclusion of the Great War, which they had to rename World War I because another one followed fast on its heels. Coincidentally, 2018 also marked the deaths of renowned Cold War historian Richard Pipes and the scholar who coined the phrase “clash of civilizations,” Bernard Lewis. This lecture suggests that today’s U.S.-led wars in Muslim-majority countries are, like World War II, residual effects of unfinished business in World War I. It challenges the framing of wars as ideological conflicts -- the “Cold War” against Communism, Global War on Terror -- and suggests that such framing deflects attention from the root causes of the conflicts, making their resolution all the more difficult. Just as neither fascism nor totalitarianism was defeated militarily, neither will terrorism be. The lecture concludes by suggesting more inclusive treatment of Afro-Eurasia history as an antidote for politically biased narratives.

Tamara Sonn is Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of the History of Islam at Georgetown University.

6 March 2019 - Professor Mary Evans

Who Done It? Responsibility, Revenge and Retribution in the 21st Century: making a new moral order

We have known ( or suspected ) that those who are both guilty of what we define as crime and are also the most privileged are much more likely to escape punishment than others. This lecture addresses, through the reading of noir detective fiction, the ways in which this question is being considered. In it, we arguably find an understanding of collective guilt and redundant forms of sanction that question both the legitimacy and the relevance of criminal justice systems across Europe , a context where detective and crime writing are the most popular forms of fiction . Nevertheless there are interesting differences , particularly between specifically English detective fiction and that of other Europeans, which perhaps illustrate different relationships to collective definitions of morality.

Mary Evans is LSE Centennial Professor at the Department of Gender Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

8 May 2019 - Professor Branko Milanović

Recent Trends in Global Income Distribution and their Political Implications

The talk will discuss the evolution in global income inequality and focus on its political implications; in particular, the rise of the middle class in Asia, income stagnation of the rich countries’ middle classes, migration as part of globalization, and the emergence of global plutocracy (global top 1 percent).

Branko Milanović is Visiting Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center - CUNY

3 June 2019 - Professor Peter Singer

Animal Liberation

Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and laureate professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, Ethics in the Real World and most recently: Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction, co-authored with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek. He is the founder of the anti-poverty organisation The Life You Can Save.

Contact Details

Durham University,
DH1 3RW,
Durham Castle