Celebrating 100 Years of Raymond Williams: The Centenary Symposia

What does it mean to engage with Raymond Williams’s writings today? Who and what are we remembering in this, his Centenary year? In Towards 2000 (1983) Williams was already acknowledging, and responding to, the shift away from the Westphalian system of European nation-states to a network of global corporations and noting that capitalist relations in the emergent globalised world were blurring the distinction between ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ thus transforming the very structure of labour and social relations. He argued that a traditional Labour Left politics that assumed that the UK state was the inevitable context for socialist action had been rendered moribund, and his self-defined Welsh-Europeanism was an attempt at changing the frame of cultural analysis and political practice. Envisaging a linking of the various ‘Lefts’ in Europe and beyond, he argued for a re-alignment within Western politics which, in resisting a centrist conformism, would create a space for ‘some federation of socialist, Green and radical nationalist forces’. His late essays were a continuation of his life-long attempts at teasing out and defining credible lines of action for progressive politics. He noted in 1961 that the long revolution for educational expansion, democratic agency, economic equality and liberation of human potential was ‘still in its early stages’. Expressed in internationalist terms, that statement remains true today.

Williams’ deep historical sensibilities informed a prospective outlook, and theses symposia draw on this dimension of his thought. Focusing on Europe, Japan and Brazil the series aims to place Williams’s writings within different national, international and comparative contexts in an attempt at exploring his influence, legacy and the elements of his thought which continue to have ‘the seeds of life in them’ in the age of globalisation.

The three Raymond Williams Centenary Symposia arranged by the Centre for Research into the Literature and Language of Wales at Swansea University sit within an array of international events marking the Centenary of one of Wales’s leading intellectuals. We will seek to use this website to promote our own activities, but also to promote and feature other events. If you would like us to promote an event on our blog, please contact Eve Johnson: Eve.Johnson@Swansea.ac.uk