The Standing Seminar in Critical Theory (SSCT) aims to build a permanent, transdisciplinary and inter-institutional space for critical thought across the South West Doctoral Training Partnership institutions.


The initiative seeks to unite critical theorists within and across the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) institutions, and in dialogue with external partners and organisations. Critical theory, for us, is not simply a set of ideas that can be applied to understand reality. Rather, it is an active, iterative cycle of action and reflection that, embedded in social practices, seeks and enacts social transformation by offering a critique of society.

The SSCT is intended as a transdisciplinary space where students and academic colleagues across the SWDTP can meet to discuss the critical theories and radical epistemologies stemmed from the Frankfurt School and the Marxist tradition, Feminist, and post/de/colonial studies, lies at the intersection of these students’ and academics’ respective subfields and research objects.  


The SSCT was born as a student-led initiative by a group of SWDTP doctoral students from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences at the University of Bath, under the guidance of Dr Ana Cecilia Dinerstein.


We were brought together by our interests in theories, epistemologies and practices that build alternatives to the violent and closing world offered by coloniality, capitalism, patriarchy, hetero-cis-normativity and anthropocentrism. Against the tide of the neoliberal University and the neoliberal - white Curriculum, we started to discuss the possibility of creating the kind of permanent, cross-disciplinary space for critical thought that we are now making reality. 

Following a series of successful "seed" events in 2018 - and thanks to the enthusiastic support from SWDTP Pathway leads from Bath, Bristol and Exeter - in April 2019 the initiative was awarded generous funding for our first year's activities by the SWDTP Collaboration fund. With this funding, we will now expand our community and activities to incorporate students and academic colleagues at the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath.

Our aim is to explore critical theories and radical epistemologies, including those born out of both the Frankfurt School and the heterodox Marxist tradition, critical feminist theory and decolonial theory, along with others arising from our own research projects.


Over the course of 2019-2020 we will run a series of activities across the SWDTP institutions that together explore the conditions, role and horizons of critical theory today. The proposed activities will include reading groups, workshops and mini conferences.

The community will bring together existing strengths in critical theory across a range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, making a timely intervention into the most acute problems posed by today’s world, and accompanying new practices for a world in crisis. 

More information → here.




Dr Ana Cecilia Dinerstein / SSCT & Network Coordinator

Dr Dinerstein is a Reader in Sociology at the University of Bath.  She is a feminist, open Marxist and decolonial critical theorist who created the field ‘global politics of hope’. She is the author of  The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope (2015) and co-editor and author of Open Marxism 4: Against a Closing World (Pluto Press). She writes about social resistance, utopia, and critical theory based on Ernst Bloch’s principle of hope (contemporary uses of Ernst Bloch’s principle of hope). 


Dr Theo Papadopoulos 

Dr Papadopoulos is a comparative political sociologist based at the University of Bath’s Department of Social & Policy Sciences. His recent research includes publications on the neoliberal character of EU’s economic governance as well as the politics and socio-economic impact of austerity in Greece and other southern EU countries.


Callum Cockbill 

Callum Cockbill is an ESRC-Funded MRes student in the field of Global Political Economy at the University of Bath. Principally, his academic research is dedicated to the investigation of the political and economic imperatives and the ideational and discursive power relations that are inherent to the development and implementation of technological innovations in advanced capitalist societies. 


Josie Hooker

Josie Hooker is an ESRC-Funded PhD Candidate, Global Political Economy Pathway, University of Bath. Her academic work is rooted in the political practices and collective strategic and theoretical reflections of the grassroots struggles of those at the sharp end of crisis. Her PhD explores feminist, decolonial and class perspectives on urban movements against and beyond precarity in the context of crisis and austerity in Barcelona.


Diana Teggi 

Diana Teggi is an ESRC-Funded PhD Candidate in Social Policy at the University of Bath. Her doctorate investigates issues of marginalisation, institutionalisation and dignity in old age and the care of the dying. Diana’s research features in Social Science & Medicine.


María José Ventura Alfaro

María José Ventura Alfaro is an ESRC-funded PhD student in the field of Development Studies, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath. Her research offers a feminist analysis of the contemporary violence against women or Feminicide and social movements’ action in contemporary Mexico.


Adrian Burgess

Adrian Burgess is a PhD Candidate, Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath. By drawing on the conceptual framework of Pierre Bourdieu, he explores working class millennials aspirations for adult life in advanced neoliberalism to theorise the process of coming of age under austerity

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Dr Luisa Enria

Dr Enria is a lecturer at the University of Bath. She holds a PhD in International Development from the University of Oxford and is a Research Affiliate at the Oxford School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

Her research aims to produce ethnographic accounts of how people experience, engage with and resist development and humanitarian interventions in their daily lives. Her book, The Politics of Work in a Post-Conflict State: Youth, Labour and Violence in Sierra Leone, was published in July 2018.


Kalyan Kumar

Kalyan Kumar has recently been awarded the Outstandingly Young Career Paper Award at CIES conference, San Francisco. He is an ESRC funded PhD Candidate, in Advanced Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences, in the Departments of Social and Policy Sciences and of Education, University of Bath.

His PhD examines the accountability & learning outcomes in Indian School Education System. He aims to investigate how accountability processes, in different contexts, effect student achievement rates and how these affects are distributed across various socio-economic categories.


Tara Jessop / Research and administrative support.

(Department of Social and Policy Sciences)