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This is a double event jointly hosted b Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies and the Communication and Media Research Institute. Ticket holders are welcome to join both events, or merely attend one. Tea and cake will be provided in the break.

Event programme

4–6pm: Book launch
Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy by Cherian George
Published by MIT Press, Cambridge (MA)

6–6.30pm: Afternoon tea break

6.30–9pm: Screening and talks: Harun Farocki and the Question of Cognitive Labour
With Dr Claudio Celis Bueno and Dr Michael Cowan

Wine reception

Book Launch for Cherian George’s new book Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy

The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies and the Communication and Media Research Institute of the Westminster School of Media Arts and Design cordially invite you to a discussion to mark the global release of Professor Cherian George’s new book Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy.

In the United States, Donald Trump’s campaign for the Presidency mainstreamed the anti-Muslim rhetoric of a radical fringe Islamophobia network. In India, Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist supporters instigate academic censorship and vigilante violence. In Indonesia, Muslim absolutists attack churches and minority sects.

These trends in the world’s three largest democracies and other outbreaks of religious intolerance are not random and isolated, but part of a dangerous pattern of politics that Cherian George calls ‘hate spin’. A two-pronged weapon of identity politics, hate spin combines incitement to hatred with orchestrated outrage against perceived insult. Often mistaken for spontaneous eruptions of visceral emotions, hate spin episodes are manufactured by political opportunists to mobilise supporters and marginalise opponents. George argues that hate spin requires a public response that is at least as resolute as the campaigns engineered by modern purveyors of intolerance.

At this launch event, Cherian George discusses his book with Daya Thussu, Professor of International Communication, University of Westminster.

‘This timely work provides an essential warning against the misuse of perceived religious-based bias and an unmasking of the real motives of those who incite manufactured offense.’ – Publishers Weekly

Hate Spin will be on sale at £15, a discount of more than 33% off the regular retail price.


Dr Cherian George is an Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism at the Hong Kong Baptist University. A native of Singapore, he is a former art and photo editor at the Straits Times. Dr George received his PhD in Communication from Stanford University. He has a Masters from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and a BA in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. Among his other publications are Contentious Journalism and the Internet: Towards Democratic Discourse in Malaysia and Singapore (2006) and Freedom from the Press: Journalism and State Power in Singapore (2012). He is also editor of the Routledge journal Media Asia.

Dr Daya Thussu is Professor of International Communication and Co-Director of India Media Centre as well as research advisor to the China Media Centre at the University of Westminster. Author or editor of 18 books, the latest being Communicating India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood (Sage, India, 2016), he is the founder and Managing Editor of the Sage journal Global Media and Communication.

Screening: Harun Farocki and the Question of Cognitive Labour

Marking the 120-year anniversary of the first screening of Lumière Brothers' Workers Leaving the Factory at the University of Westminster’s Regent Street campus, the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies hosts an evening featuring short films by Harun Farocki and comments by two distinguished experts.

In 1896, the Royal Polytechnic Institution – today the University of Westminster – hosted the first ever screening of moving images to a British audience: a set of ten short films by the Lumière Brothers. One of these was Workers Leaving the Factory.

In 1995, German filmmaker Harun Farocki produced ;a film of the same title, exploring the relation between the cinema and the factory. Farocki asked: why have the factory and industrial labour been systematically hidden and disregarded in the history of cinema? Through the montage of similar scenes from the history of film, Farocki depicts the factory gate as a site of social struggle. The gate functions as a metaphor for the gradual eviction of the industrial worker from the factory and the emergence of new forms of cognitive labour. In other words, Workers Leaving the Factory marks the exit of the mass worker from industrial capitalism and into what is called the social factory in Italian autonomous theory.

Farocki’s films prompt us to ask pressing questions in relation to what today is called cognitive/informational/cultural labour. The event aims to show how contemporary theories of labour allow us to read and interpret the work of one of the key figures in contemporary German cinema and how cinema can inform critical social theory.

On this evening, Dr Claudio Celis Bueno (Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies) and Dr Michael Cowan (University of St Andrews) will be exploring the internal relation between the audio-visual work of Farocki and new theoretical reflections on labour in contemporary society.

Drawing lines backwards into film history, the event takes place in the historical building where the Lumière Brothers’ film was first shown to a British public. We will be just next door to the Regent Street Cinema, which was re-opened by University of Westminster in 2015.

Event programme for screening


by Professor Christian Fuchs
Director of Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies

Movie screening (59 minutes)

Workers Leaving the Factory (1995) 36 minutes
Counter-Music (2004 23 minutes

Film discussion

Labour, Value and Technology in the films of Harun Farocki
by Dr Claudio Celis Bueno
International Research Fellow, Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies

Labour in the Era of the Smart City
by Dr Michael Cowan
Head of Film Studies, University of St Andrews

Open discussion

Wine reception


Dr Claudio Celis Bueno is an International Research Fellow at Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Westminster. He holds a PhD in Critical and Cultural Theory from Cardiff University. He is the author of the book The Attention Economy: Labour, Time, and Power in Cognitive Capitalism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). His current research focuses on the problem of labour in the films of German artist Harun Farocki.

Dr Michael Cowan is Head of Film Studies at the University of St Andrews. He is author of several books and collections on cinema, including The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory 1907-1933, co-edited with Anton Kaes and Nicholas Baer (University of California Press, 2016). His main interests are German and European modernity, with emphases on film and media history, visual culture, film theory, experimental film and non-theatrical cinema.