‘Cultures of Uneven and Combined Development’
The conference entitled ‘Cultures of Uneven and Combined Development’ took place, with support
from the HRC, at the University of Warwick on 13th June 2014. The aim of this event was to capitalize
upon the interest in the question of uneven and combined development which has burgeoned in
academic circles over recent years. In particular it aimed to establish the potential for an
interdisciplinary relationship between the two separate fields in which this focus has been most
pronounced; political science and literary studies. As such it attracted major speakers from politics
and international relations, such as Professor Justin Rosenberg from Sussex University and Neil
Davidson from Glasgow University, and from comparative literary studies, such as Professor Neil
Lazarus, who is based here at Warwick.
The day itself was well-attended and a great success, producing a genuine and mutually enriching
dialogue between disciplines. Papers from the political sciences included Professor Rosenberg’s
overview of the development of the concept of uneven and combined development from its origins in
Marx and Trotsky, Neil Davidson’s summative keynote address, and an exploration of the case of
Iranian modernity presented by Dr Kamran Matin of the University of Sussex. In terms of literary
studies Professor Lazarus explored the role which uneven and combined development plays in
contemporary theories of world literature. This was then followed by closer textual work on the
American poet Ben Lerner by Dr Stephen Ross of Warwick, and on the early twentieth-century
novelist John Buchan by Dominic Davies of Oxford. The scope of the papers then broadened out to
address the arts on a wider level, with Rhiannon Harries of Cambridge discussing contemporary
cinema, and Jacob Stewart-Halevy of Yale discussing Italian radical design and applied art. The event
also looks set to produce further results, with an online forum to continue discussion having been set
up, and discussions about the publication of proceedings as a monograph underway.
James Christie, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies
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‘Cultures of Uneven and Combined Development’