23 – 25 January 2019 | University of Brighton
Critical Theories in a Global Context: Fascism? Populism? Democracy?
Keynote Speakers: Lorenzo Bernini; Luciana Cadahia; Jean Comaroff; Kelly Gillespie; Saygun Gokariksel; Donna Jones; Maurizio Lazzarato; Christoph Menke; Leigh-Ann Naidoo
The conference has three aims:
(a) to reanimate the analytical and critical tools of the past in addressing the xenophobic, fascistic, racist, and sexist tendencies of the present;
(b) to engage in debate with critical theoretical scholars from every part of the globe;
(c) to address the inequalities intrinsic to the global political order, while identifying the places, spaces and practices which inspire democratic politics today.
Volkan Çıdam (Boğaziçi University); Mark Devenney (University of Brighton); Zeynep Gambetti (Boğaziçi University); Clare Woodford (University of Brighton).
This conference takes place at an unprecedented time. The early years of the 21st century have seen the reemergence of fascisms; the naturalization of nationalist, populist, sexist, xenophobic and provocative hate speech and conduct; and the marginalization of local and global progressive politics. Many events suggest a return to the 1920s and 1930s: “democratically” elected politicians in the United States, Hungary, Turkey, and India have resorted to nationalist tactics, undermining law and parliamentary sovereignty; resentment of culturally or religiously distinctive “others” is nurtured to reactionary ends; millions of immigrants, refugees, and stateless people are refused recognition as rights-bearing human beings. Yet the world today is also profoundly different than it was in the 1930s. Political discourses are mediatized in real time across the globe and a single mode of networked and financialized production structures all economic and political activity. Class structures, resource distribution, and the forms that inequality takes have changed in unprecedented ways.
Critical theory has never contented itself with describing surface appearance—and there is no reason why it should today. Fascism, capitalism, and inequality have assumed new forms, and taken on different significance in novel social conditions. This conference aims to reinvigorate critical and theoretical approaches to the present, devoid of dogmatism, but committed to a politics of equality.
Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
1) Conceptualising the convergence and divergence of populist and/or fascistic tendencies in different contexts across the globe;
2) Reframing critical theoretical work for emancipatory politics in the 21st century;
3) Critiques of (neoliberal) capital including associated processes of accumulation, precarization, flexible labour, xenophobia, and prejudice;
4) Decolonial critiques of “Western” conceptualisations of domination, violence, and critique;
5) Conceptualising new forms of domination and violence, and their specificities, across the globe;
6) Analysis of the economic, social, and political dynamics which limit emancipatory politics;
7) Theoretical reflections on movements and ideas which enact and animate equality across the globe.
Conference attendance and participation is free. However, we will limit the number of presentations in order to ensure that we can structure the conference as a set of on-going conversations.
Full financial support for flights and accommodation in Brighton is available to scholars from around the globe who cannot otherwise attend.
About the Consortium
The International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs documents, connects, and supports the various programs and projects that now represent critical theory across the globe. Through its work, the Consortium aims to document the global contours of critical theory today, supporting critical thought both inside and outside the university in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and science and technology studies, and seeking collaborative ways to become critically responsive to pressing global challenges. The Consortium was established in December 2016 with a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of California, Berkeley. A special project of the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley, the grant is led by Professor Judith Butler as Principal Investigator.
Lorenzo Bernini is Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Verona, Italy. He is co-founder and director of the Research Center PoliTeSse (Politics and Theories of Sexuality). His interests range from classical political philosophy and French thought of the 20th century to contemporary theories of radical democracy, critical race and queer theories.
Luciana Cadahia is Professor of Political Theory and Problems of Modern and Contemporary Philosophy at FLASCO, Ecuador. Her research focuses on the connections between modern and contemporary political thought. She is the editor of Indignation and Rebellion. Critique of a critical time (with Felix Duque, 2013) and Normality of the crisis / crisis of the normality (with Gonzalo Velasco, 2013). Most recently, Fondo de Cultura Económica published her book Mediaciones de los sensibles (2017). Her work has been central to the recent British Academy funded project on Theorizing Transnational Populist Politics.
Jean Comaroff is Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology at Harvard University. She was educated at the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics. Her research, primarily conducted in southern Africa, centres on processes of social and cultural transformation—the making and unmaking of colonial society, the nature of the postcolony, and the late modern world viewed from the Global South.
Kelly Gillespie is a political and legal anthropologist focusing on how criminal justice in South Africa has become a vector for the continuation of Apartheid relations. She writes and teaches about law and justice, urbanism, sexualities, race and the praxis of social justice. In 2008, she cofounded the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC), an experimental project tasked with recrafting the work of critical theory beyond the global north. She has been involved in work on the decolonisation of the university in South Africa, supporting student movement activism and disciplinary/curriculum reconstruction. Gillespie also works beyond the university in popular education projects supporting a broad range of social justice formations.
Saygun Gokariksel is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boğaziçi University, Turkey. He researches the communist past in Poland and Eastern Europe, with a focus on law, state and class formation, right wing populism, and neoliberal globalization. He was a co-editor of an online forum on social movements at the Council for European Studies, Columbia University. Gokariksel has been involved in collectives engaging in themes of equality, justice, and emancipation.
Donna Jones is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, where she serves as core faculty for the Program in Critical Theory and the Science, Technology and Society Center. Jones researches Caribbean, African American, and American literature. Her book The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism and Modernity won the MLA’s Jeanne and Aldo Scaglione Prize in Comparative Literary Studies in 2010. She is currently working on two projects: The Ambiguous Promise of European Decline: Race and Historical Pessimism in the Era of the Great War and The Tribunal of Life: Reflections on Vitalism, Race and Biopolitics.
Maurizio Lazzarato is an Italian sociologist and philosopher. In the 1970s, he was in activist in the workers’ movement (Autonomia Operaia) in Italy. He was a founding member of the editorial board of the journal Multitudes. Lazzarato is a researcher at Matisse/CNRS, Pantheon-Sorbonne University (University Paris I), and a member of the International College of Philosophy in Paris.
Christoph Menke is Professor of Philosophy at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. A German philosopher, Menke is a key representative of the so called “third generation” of the Frankfurt School. Among other topics, he has written about democracy and equality, the history and concept of rights, theories of subjectivity, and the aesthetics of modernity.
Leigh-Ann Naidoo lectures in the School of Education at the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include education and social justice, social movements as sites of knowledge production, the roles of education in resistance movements, radical education and student resistance, and rethinking the figure of the intellectual and the teacher. She has been an activist in the #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall and #EndOutsourcing movements that took place across South African campuses in 2015 and 2016 and has insisted on the urgent need to decolonise education.
Suvendrini Perera is John Curtin Distinguished Professor and Research Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University, Australia. She has published widely on issues of social justice, including decolonization, race, ethnicity and multiculturalism, refugee topics, critical whiteness studies and Asian-Australian studies. She has combined her academic career with participation in policymaking, public life and activism. She is a founding member of “Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites” which aims to expose government practices of offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection in Australia.
Enzo Traverso is Susan and Barton Winokur Professor of the Humanities at Cornell University. A historian of modern and contemporary Europe, his research focuses on the political ideas of the 21st century, in particular the impact of violence and fascism in European culture. He developed the notion of post-Fascism in his book Les Nouveaux Visages du Fascisme to describe the rise of xenophobic, right wing parties across Europe.