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CONVENERS Dallas Rogers, Naama Blatman & Tooran Alizadeh

ABOUT – We’re a group of scholars working across a number of fields and intellectual traditions. We come together to read and discuss new ideas with relevance to our teaching and research. The group has a broad interest in developing our knowledge of critical theory as it pertains to a range of other theoretical traditions, empirical fields and geographical regions. By closely reading and debating new and old books we aim to enhance and enrich our research, teaching and practice in ways that further challenge the structures we are all embedded in. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, the Australian academy itself.


  • Decolonisation and methodological nationalism: placing empire at the centre of the analysis, by Dallas Rogers, Jake Davies, Pranita Shrestha and Xiao Ma. Forthcoming in Society and Space Magazine in August 2021 


Shaking up the City: Ignorance, Inequality and the Urban Question

Our first book for 2022 is Shaking up the city: ignorance, inequality and the urban question by Tom Slater, published by University of California Press.

February and March 2022

DescriptionShaking Up the City critically examines many of the concepts and categories within mainstream urban studies that serve dubious policy agendas. Through a combination of theory and empirical evidence, Tom Slater “shakes up” mainstream urban studies in a concise and pointed fashion by turning on its head much of the prevailing wisdom in the field. To this end, he explores the themes of data-driven innovation, urban resilience, gentrification, displacement and rent control, neighborhood effects, territorial stigmatization, and ethnoracial segregation.

With important contributions to ongoing debates in sociology, geography, urban planning, and public policy, this book engages closely with struggles for land rights and housing justice to offer numerous insights for scholarship and political action to guard against the spread of an urbanism rooted in vested interest.

The University of Sydney Library link coming soon

Schedule – to be confirmed

The Asset Economy

Our fourth and final book for 2021 is The Asset Economy, by Lisa Adkins, Melinda Cooper and Martijn Konings, published by Polity.

November and December 2021

Description – Rising inequality is the defining feature of our age. With the lion’s share of wealth growth going to the top, for a growing percentage of society a middle-class existence is out of reach. What exactly are the economic shifts that have driven the social transformations taking place in Anglo-capitalist societies?  Lisa Adkins, Melinda Cooper and Martijn Konings argue that the rise of the asset economy has produced a new logic of inequality. Several decades of property inflation have seen asset ownership overshadow employment as a determinant of class position. Exploring the impact of generational dynamics in this new class landscape, the book advances an original perspective on a range of phenomena that are widely debated but poorly understood – including the growth of wealth inequalities and precarity, the dynamics of urban property inflation, changes in fiscal and monetary policy and the predicament of the “millennial” generation. Despite widespread awareness of the harmful effects of Quantitative Easing and similar asset-supporting measures, we appear to have entered an era of policy “lock-in” that is responsible for a growing disconnect between popular expectations and institutional priorities. The resulting polarization underlies many of the volatile dynamics and rapidly shifting alliances that dominate today’s headlines.

The University of Sydney Library link coming soon

Schedule – to be confirmed

10 November 12 – 1 Introduction + Asset logics Naama Blatman  
17 November 12 – 1 The making of the asset economy Naama Blatman Laurence Troy
24 November 12 – 1 New class realities Naama Blatman Dallas Rogers
1 December 12 – 1 Conclusion Naama Blatman  

Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent

Our third book for 2021 is Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent, by Priyamvada Gopal and published by Verso.

August to October 2021

Description – How rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire. Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom. Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire. Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

The University of Sydney Library link here

Schedule – to be confirmed

4 August 12 – 1 Introduction Tooran Alizadeh Dallas Rogers
11 August 12 – 1 1. The spirt of the sepoy host Dallas Rogers Somwrita Sarkar
18 August 12 – 1 2. A barbaric Independence Dallas Rogers  
25 August 12 – 1 3. The Accidental Anticolonialist Dallas Rogers Rebecca Clements
1 September 12 – 1 4. Passages to Internationalism Tooran Alizadeh  
8 September 12 – 1 5. The Interpreter of Insurgencies Tooran Alizadeh  
15 September 12 – 1 6. The Revolt of the Oppressed World Tooran Alizadeh Caitlin Buckle
22 September 12 – 1 7. Black Voices Matter Dallas Rogers Somwrita Sarkar
6 October 12 – 1 8. Internationalising African Opinion Tooran Alizadeh  
13 October 12 – 1 9. Smash Our Own Imperialism Dallas Rogers  
20 October 12 – 1 10. A Terrible Assertion of Discontent Tooran Alizadeh  
27 October 12 – 1 Epilogue Dallas Rogers  

(B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire

Our second book for 2021 is (B)ordering Britain: Law, race and empire by Nadine El-Enany and published by Manchester University Press.

April and May 2021

Description – (B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. In announcing itself as postcolonial through immigration and nationality laws passed in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Britain cut itself off symbolically and physically from its colonies and the Commonwealth, taking with it what it had plundered. This imperial vanishing act cast Britain’s colonial history into the shadows. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out. In fact, immigration laws are acts of colonial seizure and violence. They obstruct the vast majority of racialised people from accessing colonial wealth amassed in the course of colonial conquest. Regardless of what the law, media and political discourse dictate, people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

The University of Sydney Library link here


14th April 2021 12 – 1pm Introduction: Britain as the spoils of empire Dallas Rogers
21st April 2021 12 – 1pm 1. Bordering and ordering Shanthi Robertson
28th April 2021 12 – 1pm 2. Aliens: immigration law’s racial architecture Rebecca Clements
5th May 2021 12 – 1pm 3. Subjects and citizens: cordoning off colonial spoils Jake Davies
12th May 2021 12 – 1pm 4. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers: predictable arrivals Andrew Burridge
19th May 2021 12 – 1pm 5. European citizens and third country nationals: Europe’s colonial embrace Tooran Alizadeh
26th May 2021 12 – 1pm Conclusion- ‘Go home’ as an invitation to stay Dallas Rogers

Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World

Our first book for 2021 is Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World by Gary Wilder and published by Duke University Press.

February and March 2021

DescriptionFreedom Time reconsiders decolonization from the perspectives of Aimé Césaire (Martinique) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal) who, beginning in 1945, promoted self-determination without state sovereignty. As politicians, public intellectuals, and poets they struggled to transform imperial France into a democratic federation, with former colonies as autonomous members of a transcontinental polity. In so doing, they revitalized past but unrealized political projects and anticipated impossible futures by acting as if they had already arrived. Refusing to reduce colonial emancipation to national independence, they regarded decolonization as an opportunity to remake the world, reconcile peoples, and realize humanity’s potential. Emphasizing the link between politics and aesthetics, Gary Wilder reads Césaire and Senghor as pragmatic utopians, situated humanists, and concrete cosmopolitans whose postwar insights can illuminate current debates about self-management, postnational politics, and planetary solidarity. Freedom Time invites scholars to decolonize intellectual history and globalize critical theory, to analyze the temporal dimensions of political life, and to question the territorialist assumptions of contemporary historiography.

The University of Sydney Library link here


3rd February 2021 12 – 1pm 1. Unthinking France, Rethinking Decolonization Adam Morton
10th February 2021 12 – 1pm 2. Situating Césaire- Antillean Awakening and Global Redemption Sha Liu
17th February 2021 12 – 1pm 3. Situating Senghor: African Hospitality and Human Solidarity Caitlin Buckle
24th February 2021 12 – 1pm 4. Freedom, Time, Territory Matthew Gill
3rd March 2021 12 – 1pm 5. Departmentalization and the Spirit of Schoelcher Cameron McAuliffe
10th March 2021 12 – 1pm 6. Federalism and the Future of France Greta Werner
17th March 2021 12 – 1pm 7. Antillean Autonomy and the Legacy of Louverture Pranita Shrestha
24th March 2021 12 – 1pm 8. African Socialism and the Fate of the World Rebecca Clements
31st March 2021 12 – 1pm 9. Decolonization and Postnational Democracy Nathan Etherington

Theft Is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory

Our first book for 2020 is Theft Is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory byRobert Nichols and published by Duke University Press.

November and December 2020

Description – Drawing on Indigenous peoples’ struggles against settler colonialism, Theft Is Property! reconstructs the concept of dispossession as a means of explaining how shifting configurations of law, property, race, and rights have functioned as modes of governance, both historically and in the present. Through close analysis of arguments by Indigenous scholars and activists from the nineteenth century to the present, Robert Nichols argues that dispossession has come to name a unique recursive process whereby systematic theft is the mechanism by which property relations are generated. In so doing, Nichols also brings long-standing debates in anarchist, Black radical, feminist, Marxist, and postcolonial thought into direct conversation with the frequently overlooked intellectual contributions of Indigenous peoples.


11th November 2020 12pm – 1pm Introduction
1. That Sole and Despotic Dominion
Dallas Rogers
18th November 2020 1pm – 2pm 2. Marx, after the Feast Adam Morton
25th November 2020 12pm – 1pm 3. Indigenous Structural Critique Naama Blatman
2nd December 2020 12pm – 1pm 4. Dilemmas of Self-Ownership, Rituals of Antiwill Alistair Sisson
9th December 2020 12pm – 1pm Conclusion Pratichi Chatterjee

Reading Group Ethics

The group is committed to the following three key reading group ethics.

  1. Acknowledge – We will formally acknowledge the reading group in any published works that draw on ideas generated or refined through this reading group (see sample text* below, which can be inserted into publications);
  2. Build – Any publications emerging out of the reading group will focus on HDR and ECR mentoring and capacity building as their purpose; and
  3. Collaborate – We will use the read group to explore old and new collaborative writing opportunities.

Formal acknowledgment

  • While the ideas and any mistakes in this work are our own, we are grateful for the stimulating conversations we have been having with the City Road Reading Group at the University of Sydney, with whom we read and discussed the ideas in this work.