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Learn about Bullshitology … really? (yes, really!)

26 July 2023

It’s not often a distinguished professor offers to explain the academic theory of ‘Bullshitology’ to the world, but a public talk at the University of Canterbury offers exactly that, livestreamed and free to attend.

UC Connect

Tauhere UC Connect public talk: Bullshitologically speaking … really?

When prominent philosopher Professor Harry Frankfurt, of Princeton University, published his “theory of bullshit” in his bestseller work, On Bullshit, there was immediate excitement – at last someone has laid bare the academic practice of concealing questionable “truths” using nice-sounding euphemisms.

Steven Ratuva Te Amorangi | Pro-Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva

A stream of scholars followed suit and thus ‘Bullshitology’ was born… oh really? Amongst the leading ‘bullshit’ proponents was celebrated London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) anthropologist Professor David Graeber, whose book, Bullshit Jobs, became a global bestseller. Many institutions, including universities, used its insights to inform employment reforms. Has humanity reached the age of “peak bullshit” as prominent writer Evan Davis suggests? 

In this upcoming free public lecture – titled Bullshitologically speaking … really? – the University of Canterbury’s Te Amorangi | Pro-Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva will introduce us to Bullshitology including the work of some bullshitologists (“not to be confused with bullshitters,” he says), including his forthcoming work on ‘bullshit knowledge’.

Professor Ratuva asks if humanity has reached and even passed the age of bullshit and whether behind the street language of “bullshit” lie complex and deep epistemologies we often ignore.

“Can bullshit be framed in terms of serious intellectual discourse and philosophical narrative or is it simply…well what people generally think it is?”

Come and hear the internationally renowned, award-winning political sociologist and global interdisciplinary scholar take us through the exciting theoretical contours of Bullshitology on Wednesday night, 2 August.


About the speaker

Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva is Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury. He was awarded the 2020 Metge Medal by Te Apārangi Royal Society of New Zealand, the country’s highest award in social science research excellence. He was co-winner of the 2019 University of Canterbury research medal, the university’s highest academic honour. He became the first Pacific Islander to win both esteemed and highly contested awards. He is also recipient of several research grants by Marsden, NZ Health Research Council, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others, totalling a few million dollars. Distinguished Professor Ratuva was appointed to the role of Te Amorangi | Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Pacific in February 2023.

He was a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Fellowship and was Fulbright Professor at the University of California (UCLA), Duke University and Georgetown University in 2018. He is Chair of the International Political Science Association research committee on Climate Security and Planetary Politics and former President of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association. Steve joined the University of Canterbury in 2015 having worked at universities in Fiji, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. In 2021 he was promoted to distinguished professor – the first Pacific person to ever hold the prestigious academic title.

He has transdisciplinary research interests across sociology, anthropology, political science, development studies, economics, philosophy, and history. With a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex, UK), he has published widely on a range of issues, including Pacific societies and culture, Indigenous knowledge, development, conflict, peace, political change, coups, memory activism, social solidarity economy, social protection, elections, ethnicity, security, military, affirmative action, COVID-19, social indexes, indigenous knowledge, climate security and nationalism. As part from his regular invitations for international presentations, he delivered the prestigious Palgrave-Macmillan and Springer international annual lecture in 2022 on the topic ‘How can social science and humanities contribute to the global peace agenda.’   

  • The year 2023 marks the University of Canterbury’s sesquicentenary and the 150th anniversary theme is: Ka titiro whakamuri, ki te anga whakamua | Guided by the Past, Shaping the Future.
  • Tauhere UC Connect public lecture: Bullshitologically speaking … really? presented by Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva, University of Canterbury, from 7pm–8pm, Wednesday 2 August 2023, in C1, Central Lecture Theatres, at the University of Canterbury, Ilam, Christchurch. Register to attend free at: Tauhere UC Connect talks are also livestreamed on the UC Facebook page, and available to watch on YouTube.

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