Global Labour Research Centre presents inaugural John Eleen Lecture


A new lecture series hosted by York University’s Global Labour Research Centre (GLRC) will honour the work and memory of labour activist John Eleen.

The inaugural talk of the John Eleen Annual Lecture in Global Labour will be presented Oct. 26 with ‘Trump’s American and the Plague of Illiberal Democracy’.

The event runs 6:30 to 8:30pm in Ross Building N940, and features Professor Henry Giroux, McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest.

GLRC York UAll over the globe, liberal democracy is losing its grip on the public imagination, and in the midst of this loss a toxic form of illiberal democracy is taking its place. As institutions that once provided public visions and proactive spaces are stripped of their authority and decay under the scourge of casino capitalism, the foundation is being set for the rise of new modes of authoritarianism.

What they all share is both a hatred for democracy and a willingness to feed off the anger and rage of those who have suffered under punishing austerity measures and the restructuring of all aspects of society to the dictates of financial markets and a culture of cruelty imposed by global capitalism.

In this lecture, Giroux posits that it is against this wider historical and social context marked by a mounting embrace of illiberal democracy that the authoritarian populism of Donald Trump and other demagogues can be both interrogated and challenged. It is also against this worldwide embrace of illiberal democracy that a debate must begin over rethinking politics outside of the discourse of capitalism.

Giroux holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the Department of English and Cultural Studies. He is on the editorial and advisory boards of numerous national and international scholarly journals, and has served as the editor or co-editor of four scholarly book series.

Giroux is a regular contributor to a number of online journals including Truthout, Eurozine, and CounterPunch. He has published in many journals including Social Text, Third Text, Cultural Studies, Harvard Educational Review, Theory, Culture, & Society, and Monthly Review. His most recent books include: Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (2014); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (Peter Lang 2014, second edition); The Violence of Organized Forgetting (City Lights, (2014); Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of the Spectacle (co-authored with Brad Evans, City Lights, 2015); Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2016); America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017); and The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of Authoritarianism (Routledge 2018).

His primary research areas are: cultural studies, youth studies, critical pedagogy, popular culture, media studies, social theory, and the politics of higher and public education. He is particularly interested in what he calls the war on youth, the corporatization of higher education, the politics of neoliberalism, public pedagogy, the educative nature of politics, the rise of various youth movements across the globe, and the assault on civic literacy and the collapse of public memory.

Space is limited for this event, and registrations will take place on EventBrite at

All are welcome.

The John Eleen Annual Lecture in Global Labour is an initiative of the Global Labour Research Centre and is co-sponsored by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

Eleen (1922-2015) had a varied career, including union organizer for the UE and senior research assistant in cancer research. He was later recruited as research director for the Ontario Federation of Labour, a position he held for 23 years until retirement. He was committed to labour activism, and was an advocate for, and defender of, workers’ rights.