Cinema Politica

Documentary Film and Social Criticism

Join us in the sociology department for a new discussion series, where documentary film meets social theory and criticism.

Cinema Politica is an international network that circulates excellent documentaries about important social problems like economic inequality, global warming, art and resistance, aid and development, refugees, precarity, gentrification, trans rights, surveillance, police brutality, racism and environmental justice.

We invite you to come see the documentaries, and then join us a week later for a discussion about related ideas in social theory and criticism that help extend and deepen our understanding of the issues. We will be exploring different ways to document and illustrate ideas and concepts and creating a website as a resource for further work in the area.Watch social documentaries and talk about social theory - that’s the idea. Get informed about the world and learn concepts and ideas that help us understand and change it.

Three easy steps:

1) Come see Migrant Dreams at 7 pm, in A-1043 on September 26.

2) Download some things to read at :

3) Join us a week later to discuss 'precarity', the new sense of insecurity about the future that is redefining many people's access to work, rights, food, and protection from violence, among other things.

For the first meeting we will have two sessions:

Tuesday at 7pm in A2071 and a second Wednesday, October 4 at 1pm. In A3020 .Please come to which ever best suits your schedule.

Readings for October4- 5th:

This week we will be discussing the social concept of ‘precarity’ - a new sense of insecurity about the future that is redefining many people's access to work, rights, food, and protection from violence, among other things. Read or browse through any combination of the following readings. These articles and essays show how the concept of ‘precarity’ illuminates different parts of our social world. Some of the readings are more challenging than others. All are illuminating in one way or another.

1) Start here for a selection of short articles that describe precarity and some of the ways it is changing our world. The essays in this reading are short, easy to read pieces that introduce the idea:

2) Zigmunt Bauman’s essay is a little more challenging. It describes the ‘precariat’ (those living precarious lives ) as a kind of underclass. It raises the question of whether a shared sense of insecurity is the basis of a new sense of collective unity and political agency.

3) This essay is still more challenging to read but offers important clarifications and distinctions about kinds of precarity, and the relation of precartiy and precariousness. It asks whether precarity is now the exception or the norm.

4) Judith Butler’s essay shows that precarity rests on a sense of vulnerability and dependence on others. This ‘relational’ quality of precarity challenges the ‘possessive individualism’ that often informs our relation to our bodies, selves, identity and sexuality. Butler’s essay gives you a sense of the theoretical complexity of the idea and how it can be used to create new kinds of social critique.


Department of Sociology

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552