SAS Blogs | Supporting world-class research in the humanities


Mandela:Myth and Reality – a chance for considered reflection



South Africa The Good News /

Keith Somerville, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS), who was able to observe at first-hand, developments in South Africa, helped to organise the recent Mandela: Myth and Reality conference. Coming a year after the death of the country’s first black president, it brought together a remarkable group of experts to analyse his contribution to the creation of the new, free South Africa.


By Keith Somerville

On 5 December, the anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies held a conference which examined in detail the complexities of his legacy as a nationalist leader, his relationship with the South African Communist Party, his management of the transition from apartheid, his record as president and the construction of his powerful media image. The well-attended, day-long event was marked by contending views, informed argument but also mature debate with papers presented by leading African and British academics, people who knew and worked with him, and prominent journalists. Continue reading →

#PotW: CenSes Seminar on Multisensory Perception and Action: Embodiment in perception and language – 11 December


42 - IP - Rethinking the senses shutterstock_163151315 KW CMYKIn the Research Unit in Cognitive and Affective Sciences, we have recently performed a series of psychophysical and brain imaging studies together with neuropsychological investigations of brain-lesioned patients to demonstrate that perception is to be considered as an active process that requires combining sensory signals with information from the body and the action system. The influence of the motor system on perception will be highlighted in the domain of spatial processing in object-oriented behaviors.  Furthermore, I will also demonstrate that motor coding of space influences cognitive processes in social interaction and language comprehension. As a whole, these data support the embodied framework of perception and cognition suggesting that ideomotor representations contribute to making sense to the perceptual, conceptual and social world.

Yann Coello is full Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Lille and director of the Research Unit on Cognitive and Affective Sciences. He coordinates the group Perception, Action and Communication working on active vision, motor cognition and the neuropsychology of action. He has published many papers on embodied perception and cognition, and recently the book Language and action in the cognitive neuroscience (Psychology Press). He is also the coordinator of the research centre Visual and Cultural Sciences hosted a technological platform funded by the French government (EquipEx Program, project IrDIVE) and endowed with the most recent digital and interactive technology for investigating human behaviour, cognition and culture.

Part of the Rethinking the Senses project funded by the AHRC

Learn more about the project in this recent Storify.

Venue: Room 243 (Senate House), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Date and Time: 11 December 2014, 17:00 – 19:00

No need to register, just turn up on the day.

#PotW: Clinical Governance and Leadership – 27 November 2014



Clinical governance and leadership. Invented in the UK, exported to NZ.  Developments that can contribute to NHS England

This lecture by Professor Robin Gauld will report the late-1990s in response to various failures in medical professionalism but also to promote equal emphasis in NHS organizations on accountability for both clinical performance and financial performance, and ensure that health professionals were responsible for driving quality improvement.

On 2012, the national assessment project in which the spectrum of New Zealand health professionals were surveyed about clinical governance development and site visits to District Health Boards undertaken. A range of innovative models have been put in place, many influenced by developments in the NHS.

Speaker: Professor Robin Gauld, New Zealand-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor, 2014

Chair: Sir Malcolm Grant (Chairman, NHS England Management Committee)

Respondent: Dr Anna Dixon (Director of Strategy, Ministry of Health)


 Venue: The Chancellor’s Hall (Senate House, first floor), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Date and Time: 27 November 2014, 18:00 – 20:00

Attendance is free, but please register here


What should be seen in a Library?




Senate House recently hosted a multi-disciplinary conference exploring the role libraries have played in restricting access to published works and archival materials deemed ‘erotic’. In this post, research librarian Richard Espley reflects on the irreconcilable demands often placed on libraries.

During the recent Forbidden Access conference organised by the Institute of English Studies, libraries were portrayed as repressive organisations, concealing erotic works. In other words, exercising censorship.

Examples highlighted included the British Library’s Private Case, the enfer of France’s national collection where access is granted only after readers have negotiated a series of obstacles. At one time this was also true for Senate House Library’s Craig collection. Continue reading →

What’s Happening in Black British History? A Conversation









By Dr Miranda Kaufmann

There was a buzz at the Senate House headquarters of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) on 30 October, as at least one hundred people gathered in Chancellor’s Hall to spend the day discussing, What’s Happening in Black British History?’

The event has since been described as ‘exciting, informative, culturally enriching’, ‘impressively attended, very buoyant and well-informed’. It has also been praised for its ‘sense of warmth and informality within academic discourses’ and ‘clear rigour without elitism’. Continue reading →

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