This international symposium marks 2020 as the anniversary year of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s seminal works, most prominently the 35th jubilee of “Hegemony and Socialist Strategy”. The publication sparked heated debate about the promises and potential advantages of a post-Marxist project in an age of hegemonic neoliberal globalisation. It also laid the foundation for a fruitful anti-essentialist, post-structuralist theory of discourse and hegemony, which strongly influenced strategies of the Left. While anniversaries are usually an occasion to celebrate, the political developments over the last few decades – the rise of right-wing groups and parties, growing inequalities, intensification of the global climate crisis – hardly give reason to rejoice. In this vein, this jubilee provides an impulse for critical engagement both with the work of Laclau and Mouffe, as the so-called Essex School of Discourse Analysis, and with the broader field of post-structuralist discourse theory. The symposium is aimed at exploring possible future trajectories, moving beyond contextual adjustments and avoiding welltrodden paths.
All proposals examining theoretical interventions and political implications of Laclau and Mouffe’s work are welcomed. We particularly encourage the submission of papers on the following questions:
- The relationship between radical democracy and populism: can the affirmative turn toward left populism be considered as a viable political strategy? Which conclusions can be drawn from past left-wing populist projects? How can the relationship between radical democratic practice and left-wing populist strategy be systematised?
- Re-evaluation of class as an analytical category for the discursive theory of hegemony: how can we – after Laclau and Mouffe’s intervention – revisit a critical engagement with class politics? How can we consider class in an anti-essentialist mode? How might the organisation of social struggles (including “identity politics”) around the category of class prevent their incorporation into capitalist logic?
- The plurality of emancipatory political practices: which different manifestations of emancipatory political practices can we articulate within and beyond the Essex School? How might we connect mainstream-oriented institutionalism with radical democratic theories and a discursive-hegemonic understanding of politics and the political? Which challenges and pitfalls does post-structuralist institutionalism face and how can these be overcome?
This international and interdisciplinary symposium challenges the distinction between political theory and practice. It is designed to bring together scholars (graduate students as well as early-career and established researchers) and activists interested in the development of emancipatory political projects.
We are accepting proposals for individual and joint papers (20 minutes). The deadline for submission is January 31st, 2020. Proposals should consist of a single PDF file containing: presenter’s name, email address, institutional affiliation (if relevant); title of presentation and abstract (max. 300 words) including 3–5 keywords; brief biographical information of presenter (max. 100 words). We will confirm receipt of proposals. If accepted, participants will be invited to submit papers for pre-circulation 6000 words) by September 7th, 2020. There is no conference fee for participants.
We are considering as a follow-up project an edited volume with selected contributions to the event.
Confirmed Speakers and Panelists
Paula Diehl, Kiel University
Lisa Disch, University of Michigan
Jason Glynos, University of Essex
Oliver Marchart, University of Vienna
Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Martin Nonhoff, University of Bremen
Milos Rodatos, University of Greifswald