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Decommissioned - David Oswell

Decommissioned: David Oswell

20 Apr 2016

Imagining Childhood (De)Commissioned: The Intricate Entanglements of Image, Rights and Agency

In this lecture, David Oswell looks at how images of children and childhood have been mobilised in the recent history of children’s rights and in the context of children as a form of global humanity. Tracing different stories and problems from arguments in the 1970s for the liberation of children, to ‘survivor’ discourses in the 1980s, to campaigns regarding ‘undocumented children’ in the 1990s and 2000s, the lecture raises a series of questions regarding the commissioning and decommissioning of agency.

David Oswell is Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has published Pleasure Principles (1992), Television, Childhood and the Home (2002), Culture and Society (2006), Cultural Theory, Vol 1-4 (2010), and The Agency of Children (2013). His research considers both cultural theory and the relations between childhood, image, and power. Currently he is working on two related projects concerning, firstly, the value of children in neoliberal political economy and secondly, a history of the imaging of children and childhood in the context of demand sfor children’s human rights.

In a series of ten lectures, Decommissioned seeks to address how strategies of disavowal, inactivity and transition are employed in contemporary art and design. When encountering cultural bias, uncertainty and co-option across the arts, how can the dominant flows of information, language, policy and ideology be circumvented? Curators, sociologists, artists, politicians, academics, queer-thinkers, bio-designers, film-theorists and others will respond through diverse fields of exciting and critical research.    

This series is curated and convened by Dr. Stephen Wilson and is staged in collaboration with Chelsea College of Arts Postgraduate Community and the University of the Arts London, CCW Graduate School.

In partnership with


E.g., 24-06-2018
E.g., 24-06-2018