Gavan Titley: Free speech, freer noise: racism and the politics of publicness

  • Datum: –15.00
  • Plats: Engelska parken 22-0031
  • Föreläsare: Gavan Titley (Maynooth University)
  • Webbsida
  • Arrangör: CEMFOR in collaboration with the Forum for Living History
  • Kontaktperson: Claes Tängh Wrangel
  • Föreläsning

Welcome to a public lecture with Gavan Titley. Co-organized with the Forum for Living History.


In recent years, debates about the value of freedom of speech have occupied centre stage, especially in Europe and North America. Sensational op-eds and books warn that free speech is increasingly in crisis. They are correct, but for the wrong reasons.

Despite endless arguments over ‘silencing’ and ‘cancel culture’ in highly mediated public cultures, the moral value of free speech is as contested as usual - speech is always denied as a routine dimension of political repression, and people resist this coercion as best they can, and as they always have done.

Today, it is the consequences we associate with the value of free speech which are radically unsettled. What free speech is for, what it does and can do, what it contributes to in terms of democratic life, shared understandings and public knowledge, are now key problems in contexts where public speech is being transformed. Tensions and conflicts about free speech can be approached as a symptom of a deeper anxiety. There is a disturbing gap between what free speech is assumed to do and achieve, and how speech-as-communication is actually experienced, produced, distributed, mobilised and constrained in contemporary societies.

This lecture develops some of these ideas by examining how debates over the meaning of free speech intersect, in contemporary Europe, with conflicts over the meaning of racism in social and political life. It draws on ideas from Is Free Speech Racist? (Polity Press, 2020) and a work in progress, What is Free Speech For? (with Bristol University Press).

About Gavan Titley:
Gavan Titley is a Professor in the Department of Media Studies, Maynooith Univeristy. He is interested in ideas and understandings of freedom of speech in a context of democratic crisis and communicative abundance. In exploring this theme, Titley has published Is Free Speech Racist? (Polity Press, 2020) and is currently working on What is Free Speech For? for Bristol University Press's new What Is It For? series. Titley’s longstanding research interests and commitments are in the politics of race, racism and multiculturalism in European politics, and the generative role of media and communications in this politics. In this field he has published  Racism and Media (Sage Publications, 2019) and is currently working on a new book, The Anti-Racist Media Manifesto, with Anamik Saha and Francesca Sobande, for Polity Press's Media Manifesto series. Previous books include The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age, written with Alana Lentin (Zed Books 2011), the co-edited National Conversations: Cultural Diversity and Public Service Media (Intellect Books 2014) and After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism, Free Speech (Zed Books 2017). 

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