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Leviathan Public Programme: Empathy In and Out of Species

  • Wed, 25 Sep 2019
  • 6.30 PM - 8.00 PM

To accompany Shezad Dawood's Leviathan exhibition at Bluecoat, we're excited to be hosting two symposia on Wednesday 25 September and Wednesday 2 October bringing together researchers and activists whose work is connected to the themes in Dawood's project. 

Through the lens of migration, activism, biotechnology and more, their discussions will address empathy, as well as the methods and technology we may use in the future in order to adapt to our changing planet.


Empathy In and Out of Species

Wednesday 25 September | 6.30 - 8pm | Tickets £5/3

Professor Alex Balch (University of Liverpool), PhD student Samantha Hook (University of Manchester) and Jennifer Verson (Director of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid), will explore empathy in connection with human migration and our relationship with marine species.


Professor Alex Balch - Moral bargains: slavery, hospitality and immigration today.

Alex Balch will discuss how current debates around immigration and anti-slavery increasingly intertwine. He will draw evidence from the UK and the US to argue that recent developments in immigration policies can be traced to older ideas about slavery and hospitality.

Alex joined the Department of Politics at the University of Liverpool in 2010. His research focuses on the politics and policy of immigration, and on efforts to combat forced labour and human trafficking. He has worked with a range of government and non-government organisations on research projects and regularly contributes to public debates. He is currently running a large network with partners in Africa that is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). He is a member of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery (CSIS) - a joint centre run with Liverpool's International Slavery Museum.

Samantha Hook - More than jaws: empathy and shark extinction. 

Samantha Hook has witnessed first hand the impact of overfishing and shark hunting from her experience working for a charity on illegal unregulated and unreported fishing activity across Europe. In her talk, Hook will chart the journey of sharks and rays throughout time, and our lack of empathy towards them in the face of their potential mass extinction.

Samantha is a final year PhD candidate studying shark and ray genetics at the University of Manchester. Her passion and empathy for the environment began her career as a conservation biologist after her first degree, in which she worked with a range of species, including manatees in Florida! After returning and graduating with a Master of Science by Research, Samantha began working for a charity on illegal unregulated and unreported fishing activity across Europe, including investigations into mafia in Italy. During this, she was faced with the harsh reality of shark and ray overfishing. In 2015 she began her Natural Environment Research Council doctoral training program studying for her PhD, in which she has experienced both the highs and lows of shark and ray research. She has worked with multiple NGOs as part of her research and has won awards for her results and collaborative efforts. As she nears the end of her research she is continuing to work with charities, NGOs and fisheries to help inform and educate that sharks are more than just their jaws (or their fins!). Outside of her work, Samantha is a swimmer and scuba diver, instructing diving at her club she first learned to dive in 10 years ago.

Jennifer Verson - Migration songs: Memory, proximity and micro political engagement.

Jennifer Verson's talk will draw on the artistic and political work of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa) to explore new models for peacebuilding and social repair. Weaving together Memory Studies, Peacebuilding and Performance, she will share some of MaMa's new work interpreting the archives and exhibits from the International Slavery Museum into new music.  

Jennifer Verson is a Doctoral Candidate at The Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University where she holds a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Studentship for her research ‘Performing Peace: Applied Performance and Scriptural Reasoning as a Peacebuilding Process’. The first joint studentship represents UNAOC’s  expansion of research activity in the area of intercultural dialogue and the role it plays in promoting (or inhibiting) social solidarity, trust and peaceful relations in diverse and changing societies. (UNAOC). Performing Peace is an inter-disciplinary research project that investigates the use of performance and performing arts to bring Scriptural Reasoning into the public square. 

She is the founder and  Artistic Director of  Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa), a cross national network of women, mothers, migrants, artists, academics and activists who work together to support members  who are seeking sanctuary, and campaign for justice in the migration system. She has a Masters Degree with Distinction in Cultural Performance from Bristol University. Recent publications include Migrant Artists’ Mutual Aid: A Short History in Images. Kritika Kultura, (30/31) pp.217-223  (2018). Co-editor Migrant Artists Mutual Aid: Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance. Liverpool: Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (2017) . 

Wednesday 2nd October 

Methods for Surviving the Future

For more information and to book for Methods of Surviving the Future , click here


Shezad Dawood - Leviathan Public Programme 

Leviathan is an artistic project by Shezad Dawood interrogating national borders, marine welfare and trauma, examining what is not only a humanitarian crisis but also an environmental crisis within our biosphere. To produce this highly ambitious body of work, the artist has worked with marine biologists, oceanographers, anthropologists, neurologists and other researchers to forecast possible futures that could follow on from our current crisis. 

The talks will be recorded and archived on the dedicated Leviathan Vimeo channel.

Migration songs: Memory, proximity and micro political engagement image by: Manual Vason and Migrant Artists Mutual Aid

Cover image credit: Shezad Dawood, Leviathan Cycle, Episode 1: Ben, 2017,HD Video, 12’52’’

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