Posts Tagged ‘University of Huddersfield’

Reflecting on 2012 & Looking Forward

My year was topped and tailed by quality time with mother. In January I spent a week in Virginia with her catching up on life, love and politics while sampling many musical delights and taking in the southern charm of Norfolk. The end of the year saw her come to our home here in England to enjoy the best that country life in Suffolk can offer.

My mother is what I would describe as a ‘quiet feminist’ who battled against deep patriarchy in corporate America in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, first by returning to University to get a BA and then MA, and then in the world of health insurance. She worked hard, put her head down, and achieved great success despite the odds. While the glass ceiling was there, it certainly needed to be raised after her career and I am immensely impressed by her and hugely proud of her. She is a bedrock of wisdom in difficult times and a sheer joy to be with.

Family life has been a joy this as my eldest daughter continued in high school, my stepson finished primary and entered secondary school, and my youngest started in reception. Three kids in three schools makes for a hectic but rewarding schedule, while our menagerie of animals at home keeps us quite busy!

My year’s activities involved travel, publishing, teaching, business development, institution building and of course magic! In many cases, these activities were not mutually exclusive, but reinforcing and interdependent in ways that have enriched my experience.

Travel

The travel schedule was heavy this year with international obligations taking me to the United States, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Mozambique and Ukraine. In each location, I have met truly wonderful people and made new friends, while nurturing old friendships. Work involved lecturing, training, and giving key note speeches primarily on global trends in democracy and human rights, as well as the value of systematic research and evidence-based advocacy and policy making. Downtime in these venues allowed for a little sightseeing and walking as well as bit of magical entertaining.

Publishing

2012 saw a lot of work come out in books and articles, with some pending publications coming out in 2013 that have been completed from my desk. These include:

Books

Articles

  • Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram (2013) ‘Tension Points: Learning to Make Social Science Matter,’ Critical Policy Studies, forthcoming.
  • Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram (2013) ‘Political Political Science: A Phronetic Approach,’ New Political Science, forthcoming.
  • Todd Landman, David Kernohan and Anita Gohdes (2012) ‘Relativsing Human Rights,’ Journal of Human Rights.
  • Todd Landman (2012) ‘Projecting Liberalism in a World of Realist States: David Forsythe and the Political Science of Human Rights’, Journal of Human Rights, 11 (3): 332-336.

Chapters

  • Todd Landman (forthcoming 2012) ‘Social Science, Methods and Human Rights’ in Mark Gibney and Anja Mihr (eds) The Sage Handbook of Human Rights, London: Sage.
  • Todd Landman (forthcoming 2012) ‘The European Union and the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights’.
  • Todd Landman (forthcoming) ‘Measuring Human Rights’ in Michael Goodhart (ed) Human Rights: Politics and Practice, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Todd Landman and Anita Gohdes (forthcoming 2012) ‘A Matter of Convenience: Challenges of Non-Random Data in Analyzing Human Rights Violations during Conflicts in Peru and Sierra Leone’ in Taylor Seybolt, Jay Aronson and Baruch Fishoff (eds) Counting Civilian Casualties, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Todd Landman (2012) ‘Foreword’ in Bethany Barratt, The Politics of Harry Potter, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Todd Landman (2012) ‘Framing the Fight: Public Security and Human Rights in Mexico’ in George Philip and Susuna Berruecos (eds.) Mexico’s Struggle for Public Security: Organized Crime and State Responses, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 99-118.
  • Todd Landman (2012) ‘Narrative Analysis and Phronesis’ in Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman, and Sanford Schram (eds) Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 27-47.
  • Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram (2012) ‘Introduction: New Directions in Social Science’ in Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman, and Sanford Schram (eds) Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-12.
  • Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram (2012) ‘Important Next Steps in Phronetic Social Science’ in Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman, and Sanford Schram (eds) Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 285-297.

Papers and Reports

  • Anita Breuer, Todd Landman and Dorothea Farquhar (2012) Social Media and Protest Mobilization: Evidence from the Tunisian Revolution, Paper prepared for the 4th European Communication Conference for the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), Istanbul, Turkey, 24-27 October 2012.
  • Todd Landman, Alejandro Quiroz-Flores and Dorothea Farquhar (2012) Democratic Governance and Sustainable Human Development, United Nations Development Programme, Oslo Governance Centre, Oslo.

Teaching

I was honoured to teach a methods course in Vienna for human rights students, a comparative methods course for the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis, and my course The Comparative Politics of Human Rights.

Business development

My work as the Director of the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex has me engaged with partner organisations from the public and private sector as we seek to generate new high value content for a wide range of users. We developed a pilot mediation training course, and delivered other forms of training as part of our work in parliamentary strengthening. Our research capacity was used for a wonderful UNDP project on democratic governance and sustainable human development and we engaged with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance on staff training.  Our work with the Mackman Group has been excellent and culminated in the launch of our ESRC-funded Human Rights Atlas.

Institution building

The year has seen continued development of Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolutionand Psycrets: The British Society of Mystery Entertainers. The IDCR goes from strength to strength as we engage in a variety of challenging and rewarding projects across training, research and policy analysis. Psycrets has expanded its international network and celebrated its 5th Anniversary with an amazing volume entitled Liber Mentis, edited by Steve Drury.

Magic

Finally, the world of magic continues to inspire me and push my capacity for creativity and innovation. I have enjoyed performing with Pool Voodini in our show The Edge of the Unknown. I have performed around the UK and further afield as I never leave home without a little magic. The highlight of the year has been my appointment as a Visiting Professor of Performance Magic at the University of Huddersfield where I conducted a drama workshop entitled The Magician, the Mentalist and the Mystic. I have joined the editorial board of the new Journal of Performance Magic, which will have its inaugural issue in Spring of 2013.

While 2011 was the year of the Arab Spring, 2012 featured the prolonged and inclusive struggle in Syria that has taken so many lives, a regression in the positive steps taken by Egypt, and another unfortunate conflict between Israel and Palestine. A large proportion of the world breathed a collective sigh of relief with the re-election of Barack Obama in the United States, but he faces many challenges not least of which his increasingly worrying drone policy, the fiscal cliff solution (which may or may not happen tonight), and the on-going battle over gun control after yet another mass shooting (this time in a primary school).

Life under austerity will continue and the struggle in the Eurozone will continue for 2013, as European democracies search for long term solutions for failed economic models. I have stressed this year and will continue to stress that the financial crisis in Europe is a problem for democracy not a problem of democracy.

On a positive note, we all survived the Mayan Apocalypse and as 2013 marches on, may we agree with Daniel Pinchbeck and see a shift in global consciousness towards more peace, more understanding, and empathy for our fellow humans instead of over self-centred egotism and maximisation of material self-interest. The New Year brings many challenges, but the human spirit and capacity for overcoming adversity is strong. My new book Human Rights and Democracy: The Precarious Triumph of Idealsis guided by a simple belief that humans have incredible desire and capacity for demanding a better life and to challenge oppression wherever it may manifest itself. While 2011 saw the election of Dilma Rousseff the first female president of Brazil and former prisoner of the military regime, 2012 saw the election of Ayn San Suu Kyi to the Burmese Parliament. These examples and others serve as positive reminders of what is possible, which is why I welcome the new public and open letter from 73 Chinese academics calling on the new regime to accelerate the much needed political reforms to complement the otherwise impressive economic progress that has been achieved.

No doubt 2013 will be another roller coaster ride, but let’s hope the net experience is a positive one!

Happy New Year!

Recapturing the Essence of Magic

I am delighted to have been appointed as Visiting Professor of Performance Magic at the University of Huddersfield.

The post was launched on 13 October with a performance workshop with drama students in the Milton Theatre on the main campus of the University. The evening featured my show with Paul Voodini, The Edge of the Unknown to a sold out crowd who were taken on quite a mysterious journey influenced by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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The workshop is entitled The Magician, the Mentalist and the Mystic, and explores different performance styles that are popular today in what Prospect Magazine has called ‘The New Magic’ (see my blog post The New Magic is the Old Magic). The participants experienced three very different short performances at three different ‘tables’:

  • The magic table involved classic close-up illusions using cards, coins, cups and balls, and a series of locked boxes;
  • The mentalist table used nothing more than a few envelopes, some dice, and a drawing pad to create hard hitting mind reading with numbers, names and choices that were seemingly divined out of thin air;
  • The mystic table was replete with books, crystals, boxes and a discussion of all things metaphysical as a route to quite a different set of experiences.

After each performance, participants were able to discuss their impressions and the impact of what they saw and experienced. In keeping with the Magician’s Oath* methods were not discussed, but the time was used to reflect on the framing of each performance experience and the different contract that was established with the audience.

The rich qualitative data gathered during this event will be combined with other results of research that I have been conducting on magical performance over the years and will appear as a scholarly article in the near future.

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The workshop participants then attended the evening performance, which begins with the question:

‘Is it deduction, deception, or something more?

The question is never answered, but the audience is asked to ruminate on it as they experience over 90 minutes of uncanny demonstrations involving mind reading, coincidences, alienism, psychology, visualisation, past life regression, and spiritualism among other enduring mysteries.

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The Professorship is also associated with the new Magic Research Group and the Journal of Performance Magic also based at the University of Huddersfield. There is a dearth of scholarly study of performance magic as an art form and a key aspect of popular culture. The public figure of the magician has evolved from the Rennaissance ‘magus’ and ‘cunning folk’ to sophisticted stage magician and now the ‘new’ magician embodied in such fugures as David Blaine and Derren Brown. The group and the journal are dedicated to the scholarly study of this popular art form in all its many guises and permutations.

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In additon to the roles and responsabilties associated with this new post, I am also pleased to be working with Marina Warner and Elizabeth Kuti at the University of Essex on a board to supervise fellow Magic Circle Member Will Houstoun (consultant on Martin Scorcese’s Hugo) on his PhD thesis that explores the social history and impact of one of the most famous magic books: Professor Hoffmann’s Modern Magic.

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*“As a magician I promise never to reveal the secret of any illusion to a non-magician, unless that one swears to uphold the Magician’s Oath in turn. I promise never to perform any illusion for any non-magician without first practicing the effect until I can perform it well enough to maintain the illusion of magic.”