CfP for the inaugural workshop of the AHRC Wellbeing State network

Counterstrategies to authoritarianism: toward a politics of well-being?

Vienna, 4 – 5 October 2024

There is increasing concern in political circles, the media, and academia, about the rise of authoritarianism worldwide, and its association with misogyny, racism, and hatred of minorities (Freedom House 2021, Brown et al. 2018 1; Norris/Inglehart 2019). Researchers identify that the rise of anti-democratic politics is, at least in part, a response to the last 50 years of neoliberal economic, social, and cultural policies which have created extreme levels of inequality, social division, and precarity across the globe, decimating communities, and creating living conditions that take a severe toll on physical and mental wellbeing (Piketty 2014; Butler 2018; Brown 2018; Biglieri/Cadahia 2021; Ali 2018). Nonetheless, the belief that there is no alternative (the ‘TINA’ doctrine) hinders development of state-level political practices that could protect democracy by seeking to respond to this decline. This impasse is aggravated by the lack of conceptual work defining authoritarianism (commonly used to simply mean ‘anti-democratic‘). The inaugurate workshop therefore sets as its task to

  • better understand the relationship between, and the means of measuring, authoritarianism, democracy, and wellbeing;
  • examine the social and political conditions that allowed for the rise of anti-democratic politics;
  • identify counter-strategies to respond to cuts in social welfare and the decline of ‘the political’ (Brown 2018).

So far, speakers include Paula Biglieri (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina), Siddhant Issar (ECR, University of Louisville, U.S.), and Kelly Gillespie (University of Western Cape, South Africa).

We invite contributions from different perspectives (e.g., political theory, comparative politics,  cultural studies etc.) that respond to these questions and are open to work in an interdisciplinary environment. If you’re interested in joining us, please send an abstract of max. 500 words until 30 June, 2024 to: with in cc.

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