Research Group Aesthetic and Cultural Studies
Guest lecture

“Prefiguring the Concept: Imagining Conceptual Ontologies in Academic Practice” by Prof. Davina Cooper

The Research Professor of Law Davina Cooper from King’s College has kindly agreed to give a talk at UiB on September 5. More details below. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Screenshot from King's College website with Davina Cooper's picture
King's College Website

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Abstract: Concepts are often treated as universalising abstractions or ordering devices, but they can also form important contributors to reimagining and reinventing social institutions. This talk builds on work I’ve been doing on prefigurative and utopian conceptual methods over the past 12 years. My focus is conceptual prefiguration – where sought-after conceptual meanings, in relation to institutions such as the state, money, law, and gender, are taken up and put into action as if they were already valid.  The talk explores reasons for pursuing conceptual prefiguration, addressing how it opens up possibilities beyond reform; and explores methods for its practice. As an academic practice, conceptual prefiguration can engage a range of methods; however, typically, these focus on specific concepts rather than the concept of the concept. In this talk, I centre the latter to consider what reimagining the form of the concept can do. What are concepts like; how are they imagined; how are they used? These and other questions were posed to 20 academics in interviews on their conceptual practice. This talk explores the conceptual ontologies that emerged and explains how these ontologies augment concepts’ value for progressive transformative projects.

Davina Cooper is a Research Professor in Law and Political Theory at King's College London. Her work addresses the prompts, stimuli, conflicts, methods, and practices involved in transformative progressive politics. Prefigurative concepts, governing out of order, and disputes over gender, sexuality, and religion anchor much of her work. Her most recent books are Feeling like a State: Desire, Denial, and the Recasting of Authority and Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (both published by Duke UP). She recently completed a 4-year funded project on prefigurative law reform methods and the dismantling of legal sex status and is now working on a fellowship book project on conceptual activism.