World Factory: The Politics

World Factory: The Politics

Friday 21 October: 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Main Dining Hall, University Centre, Granta Place Mill Lane

World Factory: The Politics is free to attend but booking is recommended.

An interdisciplinary discussion engaging with the real-world issues explored by the interactive theatre show World Factory. Featuring a panel of Cambridge experts, this discussion interlinks questions of ethics, fashion, environmental impacts, working conditions, migration and globalisation.

Short provocations will be given by the following speakers:


  • Dr Shana Cohen (Deputy Director of Woolf Institute; Stone Ashdown Director; Senior Research Associate in the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge)
  • Professor Joe Smith (Professor of Environment and Society; Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University)
  • Dr Bhaskar Vira ( Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute Reader in the Political Economy of Environment and Development, and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College)
  • Dr Brendan Burchell (Reader in the Social Sciences, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, Director of Cambridge Undergraduate Quantitative Methods Centre)
  • Anne Lally (Independent consultant, specializing in ethical global garment manufacturing)

This will then be followed by a Q&A session chaired by World Factory Director/ Designer Zoë Svendsen.


Speakers’ biogs:

Dr Shana Cohen

Dr Cohen has been engaged in both academic research and community-based work in Morocco, India, Egypt, Israel, England, and the US. Her research has focused on the transformation of the middle class and the politics of social action under neoliberalism, exploring how the constitution of identity intersects with economic insecurity and ideologies of human potential and social value. Shana’s current writing and research projects reflect her practitioner and academic trajectories – the first project involves rethinking local management of resources to improve frontline service effectiveness and the second, how grassroots social action indicates the emergence of a new political consciousness controverting management models and allocation of resources based on commodification of human potential and vulnerability. She is also the PI (with Ed Kessler, Founder Director of the Woolf Institute) on a comparative study of how the recession in Europe has affected trust between religious minorities in London, Paris, Berlin, and Rome.

Professor Joe Smith

All of Dr Smith’s research seeks to enhance understanding and action on global environmental change issues, and draws on work from across the social and political sciences. This breaks down into two main areas of research and commentary: 1. Global environmental change and culture, largely focused on broadcasting and digital media; 2. Contemporary environmental history and politics, including the politics of consumption.
His research tends to be collaborative, interdisciplinary and experimental. Throughout my career he has sought to combine ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’, and impact and engagement has been integral to my varied projects. I am Principle Investigator on two major AHRC funded projects: Earth in Vision and Stories of Change, and also convene the Mediating Change group which seeks to support research and practice at the intersection of culture and climate change. My other current area of research relates to the politics of food in post-socialist societies. These investigations are currently summarised by the title Quiet Sustainability. Past projects include Interdependence Day, which tested reframings and provocations around themes of globalisation and sustainability with a series of events and publications.

Dr Bhaskar Vira 

Dr Vira’s research interests centre on the changing political economy of development, especially in India; and on political ecology, focusing on forests, wildlife and landuse change and the social and political context for biodiversity conservation. His work on incentives for natural resource use and management deals with trade-offs and discourses relating to the concept of ecosystem services, and how this overlaps with poverty and human well-being, as well as values for biodiversity conservation. Research into the policy process in this sphere has included work as a Coordinating Lead Author with the Responses Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment. His research on the political economy of development in India focuses on the distributional consequences of changes in the Indian urban and rural economy since the 1990s, with a particular interest in labour relations, as well as alternative strategies for land-use and the management of resources.

Anne Lally

Anne Lally is an independent consultant specializing in ethical supply chains and multi-stakeholder regulatory frameworks.  She works on strategy and policy issues pertaining to the garment industry – with groups such as Fair Wear Foundation, Fair Labor Association, Global Reporting Initiative, and Clean Clothes Campaign. In her previous life, Anne headed a national-level fair trade organisation in the US and spent time monitoring human rights issues at the UN in Geneva and New York.  She holds a Masters in International and Public Affairs from Columbia University.


Dr Brendan Burchell

Dr Burchell’s research interests include the effects of labour market experiences (e.g. job insecurity, work intensification, bankruptcy, unemployment) on psychological well-being. The social psychological effects of precarious employment and unemployment; Analysis of complex work and life histories data; Gender segregation, men’s and women’s life cycle and career; Emotional reactions to personal finances: “Financial Phobia”; Member of the Sociological Research Group and Individual in the Labour Market Reading group.




The Canteen will serve a Chinese buffet following the World Factory: The Politics, with prices starting from £3.40 before the evening performance of World Factory at Cambridge Junction.


World Factory will show at Cambridge Junction from 18-21 October, 7.30 pm, as part of Cambridge Festival of ideas. Book tickets here


Copyright © Metis Arts 2013