London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Kate Soper

BA (Literae Humaniores), University of Oxford                                               

Background and Career
Research Interests and Activities

Contact details

Institute for the Study of European Transformations
London Metropolitan University
Tower Building
166-220 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB
Tel: 020 7133 2927

Background and Career

Kate taught philosophy and critical theory at London Metropolitan University from 1987 and was a Professor in the Department of Humanities, Arts and Languages.  She had previously taught at the University of Sussex, where she studied for a PhD on Marxism and the Theory of Needs (published in 1981 as On Human Needs).  She has also worked as a journalist and a translator from Italian and French  (translations include works by Pietro Chiodi, Sebastiano Timpanaro, Michel Foucault, Carlo Ginzburg, Georges Labica, Cornelius Castoriadis).  She has had a long-standing association with Radical Philosophy, and has been on the editorial committee of new Left Review.  She has also been a regular columnist for the US journal ‘Capitalism, Nature, Socialism’.
She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of Humanities, University of Brighton.


Research Interests and Activities

Current research interests include: theory of needs and consumption; environmental philosophy and aesthetics of nature; gender and philosophy; feminism and enlightenment; cultural theory.

Current and Most Recent Research Projects and Activities

• Participant in the University of Liverpool and the KWI (Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut), Essen University, project on the contemporary relevance of the concept of 'Alienation' (2008-)
• Participant in the AHRC funded ‘Cultural Framing of Environmental Discourse’ network, at Bath Spa University (2010-)
• Lead Researcher (with Dr. Lyn Thomas) on the ‘Alternative Hedonism and the Theory and Politics of Consumption’ project in the ESRC/AHRB funded ‘Cultures of Consumption’ Project, 2004-6
• Writer attached to the AHRC funded ‘Edge of a Dream’ Project, under Virginia Nimarkoh, at Goldsmiths university and Camberwell Art School (2007-9)
• Project on ‘The Ideal of Nature: The Appeal to Nature in Debates about
Biotechnology and the Environment’ at The Hastings Center, Garrison, New York, USA, 2007-2009.

Teaching on PHD course on ‘Sustainability and the Good Life’ at the Centre for Sustainable Development, Oslo University, September 13th-15th 2012.




The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently, co-editor with Lyn Thomas and Martin Ryle, Palgrave, 2009

Citizenship and Consumption, co-editor and contributor with Frank Trentmann, Palgrave, 2008

To Relish the Sublime: Culture and Self-realisation in Postmodern Times, (co-authored with Martin Ryle) (London: Verso, 2001)

What is Nature? Culture, Politics and the Non-Human (Blackwell, 1995)

Troubled Pleasures, Writings on Politics, Gender and Hedonism (London: Verso, 1990)

Humanism and Anti-Humanism (Hutchinson, 1986)

On Human Needs (Harvester Press, 1981)

Selected Journal Articles (since 2000)

'Alternative Hedonism, Cultural Theory and the Role of Aesthetic Revisioning', Cultural Studies, Vol.22, no. 5, September 2008

 kate_soper_thinkpiece.pdf - 49 KB   (Sustainable Development Commission, 2008)

'Re-thinking the "good life":  the citizenship dimension of consumer disaffection with consumerism', in Journal of Consumer Culture, no. 7,2, July 2007.(Shorter version in :  Soper, K.:  'Re-thinking the "Good Life":  The Consumer as Citizen', Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Volume 15, No. 3, September 2004, pp. 111-116)

'Conceptualizing Needs in the Context of Consumer Politics', Journal of Consumer Policy, volume 29, number 4, 2006, pp. 355-372

'Humans, Animals, Machines' in New Formations, No. 49, Spring (2003)

'War and Democracy' in Radical Philosophy, No 120, July-August (2003)

'Realism, Humanism and the Politics of Nature' in Radical Philosophy, No 102, July-August (2000)

Selected Chapters in Edited Books (since 2000)

'Realism, Naturalism and the Red-Green Nexus: Benton's Critical Contribution to Ecological Theory' in Sandra Moog and Rob Stones, Natural Relations and Human Needs, Essays in Honour of Ted Benton, Routledge, 2009, pp170-184

'The Fulfilments of Postconsumerism and the Politics of Renewal', in Pat Devine. ed., Feelbad Britain, Lawrence and Wishart, 2008 (French Translation ‘Vers le consumerisme’ has appeared in Entropia No.6, Spring 2009)

'Future Culture, Realismus, Humanismum und die Politik der Natur' in Urs Lindner, Jorg Nowak, Pia Paust-Lassen, Philosophieren unter anderen, Verlag Westfalisches Dampfboot, 2008, pp. 54-69.

‚Feminism and Enlightenment Legacies’, in B. Taylor and S. Knott Eds. Women, Gender and Enlightenment, Palgrave, 2005, pp705-715.

'Objectivity and the Nature Aesthetic' in M. Archer and B. Outhwaite (eds) Objectivity (Routledge, 2004)

'Privileged Gazes and Ordinary Affections; Reflections on the Politics of Landscape' in Mark Dorrian and Gillian Rose (eds) Landscape and Politics (Black Dog, 2003)

'Feminism, Liberalism, Enlightenment' in the Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Liberalism (Edinburgh UP, 2001)

Translations (since 2000)

Carlo Ginzburg, Wooden Eyes, (co-translated with Martin Ryle) (London: Verso, 2002)

Selected Media and Public Presentations (since 2003)

Speaker at the ‘Philosophy Café’, Rose Theatre, Kingston on Thames’, 4 March 2010.

Speaker at the forum on ‘The Future of Art’, Tate Britain, 26 November, 2009

Panellist on the forum on ‘The European Exception:  Britain and the Public Intellectual’, Old Theatre, LSE 26 June 2008.

Radio 4, Start the Week, June 2008

Opinion piece on 'The Good Life', New Scientist, October, 2008, p.54

Interviewed on 'alternative hedonism' for Philosophy Bites, 2007

'What does choice mean when it comes to shopping?' in Foods Ethics Volume 2, Issue 2, Summer 2007.

‘In Search of the Good Life’ article for the Times Higher Educational Supplement, June 15th, 2007

Interviewed (together with Clive Barnett) by Jo Littler, 'Consumers:
agents of change?', Soundings, Issue 31, Autumn 2005, pp147-160.

Dinner with Portillo, Channel Five, December 2005

Radio 3, Nightwaves, April 2004

Radio 4, Start the Week, December 2003

Selected Seminars and Conference Plenaries (since 2008)

Keynote lecture, for International conference, organised by the ‘Consensus’ research project on sustainable consumption, National University of Ireland, Galway, 17th-19th May 2012

5-7 November 2011 Keynote Lecture and seminar at International conference on Sustainable Consumption, Universities of Hamburg and Bern, in Hamburg (part of the ongoing German Federal Ministry funded conference ‘From Knowledge to Action:  New Paths to Sustainable Consumption’)

17 October 2011 Plenary paper and seminar to the ‘Humanities and the Environment’ international symposium at the Sigtuna Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden.

15-16  September: Keynote lecture to the international craft conference, ‘Making Futures’ organised by Plymouth Art College at Dartington Hall, Devon.

10 September 2011: Keynote lecture to ‘Emergent Environments’ Conference, Queen Mary College, London University.

17-18 May 2011 Plenary lecture at conference at Utrecht University on ‘Environmental Humanities’ (joint meeting of Harvard University and the Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University, commemorating 300 years since their foundation).

12-15 April 2011, Guest lecturer at LUCID research centre, Lund University Sweden.

1 April 2011, Public Lecture ‘Seeing is Caring? Aesthetics, Perception, Environmental Concern and Cultural Renewal’ for the Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, in the ‘Embodied Values’ Sawyer Seminar Series on the senses.

31 March 2011 Plenary lecture for the sixth seminar in the ESRC funded research project on ‘Nostalgia in the Twenty-First Century’, Strathclyde University, Glasgow

10 February 2011 Talk for Whitechapel Gallery seminar on ‘Culture and Materialism’

7 February 2011 seminar on ‘The Humanism in Posthumanism’ for Philosophy Department, Newport University College.

18 January 2011 Public Lecture on ‘Democracy and Consumption’ for Brighton University

2-3 December 2010:  paper for AHRC funded ‘Cultural Framing of the Environment Research’, University of Bath.

5 November 2010 Presentation to one day conference on ‘Why the Humanities’ at Birkbeck.  For podcast :

26-30 October 2010 Guest lecturer on PhD course on ‘Green Growth, De-Growth and Sustainability’, University of  Oslo, Norway.

7-9 October 2010 Plenary address to the conference on ‘Consumer Culture’  at the University of Olomouc, Czech Republic.

10 Sept 2010 Plenary to the conference on ‘Hybridity’, Roehampton University.

12 May 2010, Seminar on ‘Aesthetics and Politics in the 1960s’, Oriel College, Oxford University.

18 May 2010 Plenary address on ‘Consumer Culture and the Politics of Prosperity’ at conference on consumption, University of East London.
11 June 1010 Presentation on ‘Mill’s Feminism’ at seminar on ‘Mill and Liberalism’, University of Brighton.

24 September 2009 Plenary panellist on ‘Prosperity without Growth?’ at the SDRN Annual Sustainable Development Research Conference, 2009, Welcome Institute, London

18 June 2009 Plenary to the RESOLVE Conference on ‘Sustainable Consumption’, New Connaught Rooms, London.

13 April 2009: Imperial War Museum: speaking at the conference on 'War and Photography'

 13/14 March 2009: Keynote Plenary to the International Conference on 'Gendering, Climate and Sustainability', Copenhagen University (in association with the Climate Change Congress at the University)

16/20 February 2009: At the Colorado University of the Mines as Hennebach Visiting Professor in the Humanities (giving Public Lecture and Seminars)

31 January 2009: Plenary presentation as a writer participating in the AHRC funded 'Edge of a Dream' photography project (Camberwell School of Art and Goldsmiths College) to the Final Open Meeting for the Project, Ben Pimlott Theatre, Goldsmiths

14/15 January 2009 and March 2010: Presented papers at Essen and Liverpool Universities in connection with the joint research project on the contemporary relevance of the concept of 'Alienation'.

11 December 2008: Seminar on my work hosted by SERG (Society-Environment Research Group), Manchester University

20/21 December 2008: Concluding plenary address to exhibition and symposium on 'The Animal Gaze', London Metropolitan University

1 November 2008: Plenary address to conference on ‘Post-Colonialism and the Environment’, Roehampton University

8 April 2008 Paper to the Sustainable Development Commission, DEFRA.

28-30 March 2008 Plenary address to the British Sociological Association Annual Conference on ‘Social Worlds, Natural Worlds’, University of Warwick.


10 Sept 2010 Plenary to the conference on ‘Hybridity’, Roehampton University.

7-9 October 2010 Plenary address to the conference on ‘Consumer Culture’  at the University of Olomouc, Czech Republic.

26-30 October 2010 Guest lecturer on PhD course on ‘Green Growth, De-Growth and Sustainability’, University of  Oslo, Norway.


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