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Issue 467, 21 May 2001

First UK appearance for American philosopher

Distinguished American political philosopher Professor Judith Butler made her first public appearance in Britain, at the official launch of a new £500,000 centre for cultural analysis at the University of Leeds. The ceremony, to launch the AHRB Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History (CentreCATH), was attended by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, with Professor Butler as the guest speaker.

Kinship and culture – Professor Judith Butler (left) with centre director Professor Griselda Pollock

Professor Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of a number of influential books on feminist and political theory, which offer radical ideas on issues such as gender, the body and language.

Professor Butler lectured on her new work on ‘kinship’, looking at the ways different societies and cultures organise the relationships that form the smallest units of society. Her work tackles painful divisions in society – such as racism and immigration – as well as the future of families and new forms of social life that are not solely based on the nuclear and heterosexual family.

Centre director Professor Griselda Pollock said: "As one of the leading philosophers trying to build her own bridges between political theory and concrete political struggles around race, gender, sexuality and social forms, Professor Butler was the ideal person to open this new centre, that highlights the need to work between disciplines – to translate ideas from theory into history, and to promote the spirit of engaged analysis of the world that shapes us in the everyday."

Professor Butler said: "I am enormously honoured to be asked here to launch this impressive research establishment. I think it will provide the model for many universities who are in the process of understanding how various disciplines can come together under the rubrick of cultural theory. Cultural theory, analysis and history are producing new departmental communities in many universities. I think the range and depth of this project is really quite exciting. I have the sense that it will make its mark, not only here locally but abroad as well."

For further information, see the CentreCATH website

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