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History and Sociology Talks

Date: 13 February 2007 Time: 5.00 pm

History and Sociology Talks

1. Professor George Steinmetz (Department of Sociology and German Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), 'Theorizing the Colonial State as a Bourdieusian Field'.

Tuesday, February 13thVenue: Meeting Room 1, IASTime: 5 pm

2. Discussion with the film-makers George Steinmetz and Michael Chanan of their film, Detroit: Ruin of a City.

Wednesday, February 14thVenue: Meeting Room 3Time: 4:30 pm(The film will be shown separately on another date, TBA)

Detroit, known as Motor City, once the fourth largest city in the United States, home of the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and other major car manufacturers, is nowadays a city in serious decline, which has lost more than half its population and much of its real estate. Until recently, residents would celebrate'Devil's Night' on the eve of Halloween by going out and setting fire to dilapidated buildings. Houses, factories, stores, office blocks, theatres, even the railway station, stand in ruins or have disappeared altogether, leaving vast empty lots that have returned to nature. The home of Motown music, Detroit is also the most segregated major city in the United States and one of the poorest, struggling to provide public services for its needy inhabitants.

With the participation of Detroit artist Tyree Guyton, French sociologist Loc Wacquant, Detroit-born writer Dan Georgakas, Detroit photographer Lowell Boileau, and a variety of local residents, the film looks back over the history of the city in the twentieth century: over the rise and fall of the social system identified by social theorists as 'Fordism'; the way the city was shaped by the automobile; and its decline following the deindustrialisation which began in the 1950s, leaving it ill-adapted to the post-Fordist society of the epoch of globalisation.Much of the story is told through a rich variety of archive footage - of the Ford plants, mass protests of the Depression years, Diego Rivera painting his famous mural 'Detroit Industry', the struggle for trade union rights, the riots of 1943 and 1967 - through which the film charts the battle over the image of the city and its industry that began when the Ford Motor Company started making its own films back in 1913.

Michael Chanan is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Born in London in 1946, studied philosophy at Sussex University, and history of ideas at Oxford with Isaiah Berlin, while writing music criticism and making films on comtemporary music for BBC Television. After a spell teaching film in London , went on to direct a number of films on Latin American subjects during the 1980s for Channel Four and others, and returned to teaching in the '90s. Author, editor and translator of books and articles on film (including early cinema and Cuban cinema), the social history of music, and the media, including the history of recording. Visiting Professor, Duke University , North Carolina , Fall 2000.

George Steinmetz is Professor of Sociology and Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, College of Literature , Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests include Germany and its former colonies ( Namibia , Samoa, and Qingdao , China ), on the sociology of American sociology in the 20th century, and on a modern city in the U.S. ( Detroit ). Among his publications are the books, Regulating the Social: The Welfare State and Local Politics in Imperial Germany (1993), and The Devil's Handwriting: Precoloniality and the German Colonial State in Quingdao, Samoa, and Southwest Africa (2006).


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: History


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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