Lamp and Owl Digital - Birkbeck University of London Events Listing

Birkbeck and Bloomsbury Campus Events 2015, 26 January-1 February

27 January – 19:00-21:30 – Open Data, Smart Citizens?

Venue: Keynes Library (Room 114), 43 Gordon Square,


Although a relatively recent phenomenon, the concept and implementation of technologically-enabled ‘smart cities,’ has already generated much criticism. While some note the surveillance implications of supposedly ‘all-knowing’ and ‘all-seeing’ urban environments, others challenge the technocratic assumption that the automated ‘smart city’ will help overcome the limitations of an inherently unruly and inefficient citizenry.

Yet do these top-down, privatised and bureaucratic forms of urban management exhaust the possibilities of the smart city discussion? Or might the contemporary confluence of urban space and media technologies lead to more democratic and participatory alternatives? Could such developments as the expanded access to ‘big data’ and the information generated by sensor technologies help produce more small-scale, distributed or spontaneous forms of invention and intervention within the city?

This seminar – the inaugural event of a new London research network on media and cities – interrogates the possible consequences and potentials of open data for participation and citizenship in urban life. The event will begin with two short papers: Jennifer Gabrys (Goldsmiths) will speak on ‘Citizen Sensing, Smart Citizens and Rethinking the Problem of Urban Participation’; and Alison Powell (LSE) will speak on ‘Governing the Data City: Agency, Voice, and Augmented Space.’ Güneş Tavmen(Birkbeck) will then respond with some initial comments, followed by a discussion involving the audience. A wine reception will conclude the event.

28 January – 18:30-20:00 – Remapping Survival: Jewish Refugees and Rescue in Soviet Central Asia, Iran and India

Venue: Great Hall, British Medical Association House, Tavistock Square


In this lecture, Professor Grossmann addresses a transnational Holocaust story that remarkably – despite several decades of intensive scholarly and public attention to the history and memory of the Shoah – has remained essentially untold, marginalised in both historiography and commemoration.

The majority of the c.250,000 Jews who constituted the ‘saved remnant’ (She’erit Hapleta) of East European Jewry, gathered in Allied Displaced Persons camps, survived because they had been ‘deported to life’ in the Soviet Union. Moreover, Iran became a central site for Jewish relief efforts as well as a crucial transit stop for the Polish Army in Exile; while thousands of Jewish refugees, ‘enemy alien’ as well as allied Jewish refugees in British India, worked with the Jewish Relief Association in Bombay.

Professor Grossmann seeks to integrate these largely unexamined experiences and lost memories of displacement and trauma to our understanding of the Shoah, and to remap the landscape of persecution, survival, relief and rescue during and after World War II. She also asks how this ‘Asiatic’ experience shaped definitions (and self-definitions) as ‘survivors’ in the immediate postwar context of diasplacement and up to the present globalization of Holocaust memory.

Atina Grossmann is Professor of Modern European and German History and Women’s and Gender Studies at The Cooper Union, New York. A Renowned, prize winning historian, she has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, German Marshall Fund, American Council of Learned Societies, Institute for the Advanced Study in Princeton, the American Academy, Berlin and has a fellowship at the Davis Center, Princeton University in 2015. She has also held Guest Professorships at the Humbolt University Berlin and the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Her recent books include the award-winningJews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany and After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe (2009).

29 January – 13:00-14:30 – Andrew Sayer – Social Science, Critique and the Rich

Venue: Room 415, Birkbeck Main Building


Birkbeck Institute for Social Research

In the light of the extraordinary return of extreme wealth at the top over the last 35 years Andrew Sayer will talk about how social science might contribute to the critique of the political, economic and symbolic domination of the rich.

Speaker: Andrew Sayer is Professor of Social Theory and Political Economy at Lancaster University. His books include The Moral Significance of Class (2005, CUP), Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life (2011, CUP) and Why We Can’t Afford the Rich (2014, Policy Press).

30 January – 18:00-21:00 – BISR Guilt Screening Series – Katyń

Venue: Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square,


Andrzej Wajda, Poland, 2007, 122 minutes
Presenter: t.b.a.

In September 1939 the USSR and Germany conquered Poland. The USSR ordered that all the Polish officers it held as POWs should be killed. In April and May 1940 some 22,000 were murdered. The largest massacre was in the Katyń forest. Among the dead was Jakub Wajda, father of Andrzej Wajda.
The Nazi-Soviet pact collapsed when Germany attacked the USSR in June 1941. When the mass graves were found, the Nazis and the Soviets accused each other of the killings. The USSR accepted responsibility only in 1990.
Wajda’s film blends archive footage and drama. The film reconstructs the killings. It is equally concerned with their aftermath, with the attempted denial of history, and the need to bear witness.

For information about the Guilt Group’s work, see:

31 January – 14:30-16:30 – BIMI Children’s Film Club: The Red Balloon

Venue: Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square


Screening of Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon (1956, 34 minutes), accompanied by a selection of Polish animation shorts including Bolek and LolekThe Magic Pencil, and Margo the Mouse.
In the second in our series of screenings for children of all ages, we will be showing Albert Lamorisse’s prize-winning classic film about a young boy’s friendship with a red balloon, which Lamorisse’s ingenious camera-work appears to endow with a mind of its own. The story takes us through the streets of Paris in the 1950s, and seeing the film today we can see how the city has been transformed in the intervening years.

The programme also features some wonderfully imaginative and amusing animation shorts from Poland: the globetrotting adventures of Bolek and Lolek; the Magic Pencil that brings to life everything that it draws; and the ever-resourceful and caring Margo the Mouse.

Cakes and cookies will be provided at the interval!

This programme is curated by Lucie, Michael, Muriel and Paul Temple.

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