Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Research Themes 2016-17

12 April 2016

UCL library

The Institute of Advanced Studies is pleased to be able to announce its research themes for 2016-2017: Planetary Futures and Sense and Sensation.  These themes have emerged after extensive consultation and discussion with colleagues across the joint faculties and are designed to be capacious and suggestive so that various research-led initiatives and events can be accommodated under their aegis.  We hope to appoint TWO Junior Research Fellows for each theme. In addition we aim to fund a selection of innovative research led discussions, conferences and practices related to these themes.  Calls will be widely advertised and will proceed through open competition. Advertisements for the JRFs will go live on 26 April.

Each theme is open to the widest possible interpretation and is assumed to address the concerns of many disciplines and departments while providing a frame for thinking across or even bypassing entrenched or established modes of thinking. It may be useful for prospective applicants to know that the conversations we have been having around each have included the following concerns:

Planetary Futures:

  • The planetary, the international, the cosmopolitan and the global, competing definitions and differences in the imagining of futures
  • Debates on the anthropocene as a species-focused and earth-bound framework for thinking
  • Questions of difference and the particular in relation to the planetary scope of anthropocentric discourse, the post-colonial, feminist and queer potential for thinking the 'planetary' against the grain of universalising narratives
  • The implications of the decentring of terrestrial privilege assumed natural in human understanding
  • Questioning extra-terrestrial dwelling and post-planetary worlding to see if it opens up a space for the renegotiation of classic earth-bound divisions
  • Issues of national sovereignty and territoriality, polarities and divisions, borders and boundaries in imaging/imagining novel worlds
  • Technologies of the future as invented now and in the past: forms of measuring, mapping, representing and coding images/texts that encompass a vision of the future
  • Narrative, fiction and fantasy in the adumbration of planetary futures
  • Cosmologies and cosmic construction - the fabrication/fabulation of alternative world structures through art, literature and imaginative projection
  • The history of futurity, the history of notions of the future, including but not only a history of science fiction
  • The production of image worlds; technologies of vision; the militarisation of space; climate change and representation
  • The earth without us, the post-human, fear of the future, catastrophic futures, imagination, prophecy, narratives of individual and/or collective survival, apocalypse

Sense and Sensation:

  • Histories/archaeologies of the senses
  • Sensation and affect: visuality and beyond
  • The notion of the five senses and its histories
  • Thinking through feeling, feeling through thinking
  • The senses and aesthetics
  • Sense and sensuality
  • The intelligence of the senses
  • Hierarchies of the senses and their critiques
  • Phenomenology, bodily experience and the senses
  • The gendering/queering of the senses, sexual/sensory difference
  • Pedagogy and the education of the senses, aesthetic education as a model for imagining radically different sensory worlds
  • Sensate/sensory knowledge in the age of digital technologies
  • Cultures of corporeality - comparative sensory worlds and the translatability between them