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Call for Papers: Performing Protest. Re-Imagining the Good Life in Times of Crisis, Conference, Leuven, 8-10 May 2014

Keynote Lectures:
Ingolfur Blühdorn (Bath)
Boris Groys (NYU)

In 2011, Time Magazine named the “protester” person of the year, arguing that protest has become “the defining trope of our times” and the protester “a maker of history”. More than anything, however, this making of history is a creative process. The post-democratic experience of disempowerment at the grass-roots level of many European societies coincides with the urgent need for new visions of social prosperity and wellbeing as revealed by the recent crisis of economic, environmental and social sustainability. In the wake of this multiple sustainability crisis, unexpected forms of political and cultural activism (e.g. Occupy, Femen, Indignados, Wutbürger) have gained momentum and public visibility. Under the close scrutiny of an equally hopeful and skeptical public, these protest cultures are reconsidering older revolutionary positions and forging new cross-cultural visions of alternative wellbeing. While counter-cultural protest movements had already been a motor of major socio-cultural change in Europe, they have been profoundly reconditioned by complex trends of (dis)engagement, (de)politicisation, (trans)nationalisation and (post)democracy since the mid-1990s.

The three-day international conference Performing Protest. Re-Imagining the Good Life in Times of Crisis draws attention to protest movements, activist arts (literature, film, performance, theatre, visual arts), theoretical considerations of protest, and the dynamic interaction between them. It discusses these modes of engagement with a special focus on artistic practices that imagine social wellbeing and respond to the experience of political disempowerment and democratic dysfunctionality. Fostering dialogue between scholars, arts performers and political activists it questions the extent to which artistic practice opens up new forms of protest and articulates new models of democratic participation while also testing their viability in virtual concretization. What will be discussed is thus the role of artistic production as a test arrangement, both probing and problematizing new models of civic participation.

Questions to be addressed at the conference include the following:

  • What (if anything) do the widely debated notions of post-democracy and post-politics mean beyond the academy?
  • How do diverse protest movements and cultural-artistic actors articulate the post-democratic experience and contribute to the shaping of related societal discourses?
  • How does the perception of the post-democratic and post-political condition affect the ability of (counter-)cultural movements and the arts to function as laboratories for the development of alternative visions of prosperity, social wellbeing and the good life?
  • To what extent can theatricality function as a means for political intervention in the public sphere? To what extent are protest performances based on a process of re-framing and re-enacting (with a critical, perverting, deconstructive twist) financial-economic discursive practices – including their structural inconsistencies and deficiencies?
  • How do the post-democratic condition and the multiple crises of sustainability challenge national cultures and traditions of protest and at the same time reinforce and mobilize them to inform transnational visions of alternative wellbeing?
  • What new forms of community are envisaged within European political and cultural activism, to what extent do they redraw the European cultural map, and how do they facilitate (or obstruct) the formation of new European identities?
  • How are the new protest movements and their notions of wellbeing, prosperity and the good life facilitated and refracted in the mass cultural environments of television, internet and social media?
  • To what extent can a transnational migration or mimicry of models, discourses, strategies, symbols and tropes of protest and unrest indeed be diagnosed? And what kind of modifications do these transfers entail?
  • To what extent does a diachronic ‚migration‘ of models, discourses, strategies, symbols and tropes of protest and unrest take place and which transformations go along with these diachronic transfers? How legitimate are the comparisons with the revolutions of 1989, 1968, and 1848, that frequently appear in the media? In what ways are older visions of anti-capitalism, anti-consumerism and post-materialism being reconfigured?

Since participants will include academics as well as artistic practitioners and policy makers, this event aims at fostering a true interdisciplinary and interartistic dialogue, in which the study of literature, film, visual arts and theatre goes along with theoretical and philosophical reflection on discourses of protest and visions of utopia. In order to integrate different approaches and viewpoints, the conference will employ a variety of formats of interaction, ranging from academic papers over workshops and roundtable discussions to performances and screenings.

We invite both academics from the most diverse fields (sociology, philosophy, literary studies, theatre and media studies, etc.) and artistic practitioners to deliver a paper, organize a panel or workshop, or present a performance. Proposals (in English) should be sent to performingprotest(at) by October 20 2013. These should contain a 300-word abstract as well as a short bio listing contact and affiliation details.

This conference is organized by the University of Leuven (HIPOLITHE – Humanities at the Intersection of Politics, Literature and Theory), the University of Leipzig, LUCA – School of Arts, and the University of Amsterdam (ASCA – Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis).

If you have any further questions, please contact arne.dewinde(at) or silke.horstkotte(at)

Vorschein des Neuen? Protestbewegungen und alternative Formen der Ökonomie im Europa der Krise

Zeit: 5. – 6. April 2013
Ort: DGB-Haus Bremen, Bahnhofsplatz 22–28

Im Kontext der Krisendynamik sind vor allem in den Ländern der europäischen Peripherie breite soziale Protestbewegungen entstanden. Gleichzeitig haben sich zahlreiche Initiativen alternativen Wirtschaftens entwickelt. Die Suche nach politischen, sozialen und ökonomischen Auswegen aus den Dilemmata, die die herrschende Krisenpolitik produziert, hat an Dynamik gewonnen.

Die gegenwärtigen sozialen Bewegungen speisen sich aus verschiedensten Kreisen der Bevöl-kerung, deren programmatische Ansprüche ganz unterschiedliche Reichweiten haben. Zwar stehen die sozialen Bewegungen und Projekte in Südeuropa gegenwärtig aufgrund der spektakulären gesellschaftspolitischen Auseinandersetzungen im Fokus, aber auch in Zentraleuropa lassen sich ähnliche Tendenzen feststellen. Wie lassen sich diese Bewegungen charakterisieren?

Beinhalten sie Ansätze, die über die gegenwärtige Form der Vergesellschaftung hinausweisen und historisch neue, emanzipatorische Elemente enthalten? Inwieweit werden Fragen thematisiert, die neben der Demokratisierung in politischer, ökonomischer und sozialer Hinsicht auf ein verändertes gesellschaftliches Naturverhältnis, egalitäre Geschlechterverhältnisse und alternative, nicht-warenförmige Produktions- und Konsumptionsformen abzielen? Welche Bedeutung haben regiona-listische Strömungen, die die Form von Separatismus und Nationalismus annehmen können?

Diesen Fragen wollen wir an den Beispielen Spanien, Griechenland, Island und Deutschland nachgehen und sie intensiv diskutieren. Empirische Befunde sollen dabei auch hinsichtlich ihrer theoretischen Verallgemeinerbarkeit untersucht werden. Welche Gemeinsamkeiten weisen Initiativen und Bewegungen in den verschiedenen Ländern auf, gegen welche gesellschaftlichen Tendenzen wenden sie sich und welche alternativen Konzeptionen bringen sie hervor? Von Interesse ist auch ihre Positionierung gegenüber traditionellen Organisationsformen, wie etwa Gewerkschaften, aber auch Parteien und Genossenschaften.

Geplant ist die Diskussion in zwei parallel laufenden Workshops, um allen TeilnehmerInnen Gelegenheit zu geben, sich aktiv in die Diskussion einzubringen.

Einladung und Programm auf der Seite der Loccumer Initiative.

Call for papers: “Crisis, Critique and Change”, ESA Research Network Social Movements, ESA 2011 General Conference, Turin, Italy, August 28th-31th

The upcoming 11th congress of the European Sociological Association will take place in Turin this year from the 28th to 31th of August, 2013. The Social Movements Research Network (RN 25) invites abstracts to contribute to the sociology of social movements and empirical research on mobilization in various contexts of crisis, critique and change. Comparative work that connects theory, empirical analysis and interdisciplinary methods is particularly encouraged. Please note that one joint session on the role of emotions will be organized together with the network on the Sociology of Emotions. A semi-plenary session will be organized together with Political Sociology. The deadline for Abstract submission is February 1 2013. Paper givers are invited to present papers in the following eight sessions (see detailed abstracts below):

Specific Session I: Mobilizing knowledge. Conflicts and struggles in the sectors of immaterial production (proposed by Caterina Peroni and Alice Mattoni)
Workers engaged in the production of knowledge and culture in its varied declinations often mobilized in recent years in order to improve their working conditions and fight against economic cuts due to the ongoing economic crisis. But also to advance the recognition of knowledge and culture as a common good to be managed collectively and outside the logic of private and public regulations. This panel aims at developing a critical discussion on conflicts and struggles in the sectors of immaterial production at the local, regional, national and transnational level.

Specific Session II: Typologies of Political Violence (proposed by Lorenzo Bosi)
Political violence broadly defined, including guerrilla warfare, insurgency, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, rioting and civil war, can be distinguished in several ways, by the nature of the objectives; by the targets of attacks, by the repertoire of actions; by the organizational structure of groups. This panel will develop comparisons across different types of armed actors, underlining similarities and identifying differences. It aims to query the robustness of existing typologies and to contribute to the development of new and more robust typologies of political violence.

Specific Session III: Alter-IGOs: Encounters between International Organizations and Oppositional Movements (proposed by Thorsten Thiel)
This panel will analyze how interaction between IOs and social movements has changed in recent decades as well as the effects of recent crises and critiques from social movements. While existing research has often focussed on attempts to include civil society actors into decision-making processes, this panel has a broader perspective.

Specific Session IV: Crisis, Critique and Democracy in Social Movements
This session explores how cultures of organizational decision-making and knowledge production in institutions are challenged and shaped by democracy in social movements. The session also invites critical work on democracy and democratic crises within social movement groups.

Specific Session V: Social Movements & Emotions
This session will be devoted to theorizing and analyzing social movements whose emotions or emotional repertoire complex goes beyond the „shame, pride and anger“-set. Contrasts between the emotion(s) attached to the self-image and the emotion(s) attached to the public image of a movement are also of interest.

Specific Session VI: A Global Dissenting Youth? Student movements and youth activism in the anti-austerity and anti-corporate mobilisations (proposed by Lorenzo Zamponi)
When did the current cycle of global contention start? Can we consider it a single phenomenon or an articulated set of different and interrelated social facts? Which are the shared traits among episodes of collective action placed in different political contexts, cultural settings, social roots and goals? These and other questions are at the core of the contemporary debate on contentious politics, and we aim to contribute in addressing them focusing on a particular aspect that is common to most mobilisations of this cycle: the significant involvement of young people in collective action and in the politics of dissent. Our panel will focus on the student movement.

Specific Session VII: Social Movements and Climate Change
Global environmental issues like global warming, the loss of biodiversity, food security are at the centre of political and public debates and mobilization.  This session is devoted to explore local, transnational and multi-level forms of activism and framing on these issues. Both case studies and comparative work are welcome.

Specific Session VIII: Integrating Perspectives on Radicalization (proposed by Christopher Daase and Nicole Deitelhoff)
Despite major advances in the last decade in social movement and terrorism research, we still know little about the pathways of radicalisation and de-radicalisation. While psychologists have mainly focused on individual-level factors, political scientists have attended principally to state and interstate-level factors. What is missing, however, is a systematic exploration of the linkages between micro-, meso- and macro-level factors. The panel addresses this shortcoming by inviting papers that tackle different processes of radicalization in social movements that explicitly combine these different perspectives.

For specific questions on panels proposed as listed above please directly contact panel chairs. Note, however, that all papers ultimately have to be submitted to the ESA’s electronic abstract proposal system until February 1.

The full CfP can be downloaded at the conference website

7th CEU Conference in Social Sciences „What Follows after the Crisis?“ Approaches to Global Transformations. Panel 7: Crisis and emergence: radicalization, institutionalization, and generation of social movements

Coference Website:
Conference Venue: Central European University, Budapest, HU
Conferrence Date: May 27-29, 2011

Panel 7: Crisis and emergence: radicalization, institutionalization, and generation of social movements

Chairs: Cesar Guzmán-Concha, University of Barcelona; Mariya Ivancheva, Central European University

This panel approaches the topic of contemporary political conflicts within the framework of the literature on contentious politics, political sociology and the anthropology of social movements. The panel deals with the mobilization of ideologically committed groups (i.e. far-right or radical left organizations, religious groups etc.). Our aim is to explore how trajectories of collective and individual actors and their relations to the fields of power and autonomy lead to the processes of radicalization (e.g. squatting, rioting, uprising), institutionalization (mainstream politics, ngo-ization etc), and emergence of new movements, generations of activists, and waves of contention. The papers focus on movements in contemporary societies, through case studies, and comparative and historical perspectives. The papers trace the organizational and/or political dynamics of groups engaged in political claim-making on a local, national, or transnational level. The presented work will address the ‚crisis‘ in relation to social movements not in singular, but in plural. This is in order to avoid a simplistic understanding of a crisis as a single event, and show the complexity of multi-layered chains of interconnected events that accumulate memories and social relations in very practical but substantive ways. The emergence, radicalization, or institutionalization of social movements is often in relation to crisis in the broaden sense of the concept. The current crisis might be an opportunity to assess the aforementioned processes by considering empirical research and conceptual debates.

Some of the questions this panel would like to address – but is not restricted to – are as follows:

  • What happens with and within non-mainstream groups after episodes of engagement with contentious politics?
  • What are the determinants of social movement outcomes such as emergence, radicalization, or institutionalization?
  • How do social movements maintain, negotiate, or change frames of campaigns, and opportunity structure openings beyond individual waves of mobilization?
  • How do movement members engage in the transmission of knowledge to emerging new generations of activists, and for new sustained campaigns of collective action?
  • How do political, economic, or social crises foster or hinder social movement emergence, radicalization, or institutionalization?

The purpose of this panel is twofold: on the one hand, to foster discussion regarding theoretical approaches, findings and implications of ongoing research in the concerned fields of social inquiry. On the other hand, we aim to settle a platform for further collaboration on the topics and sites emerging in the panel presentations and discussion.

Please submit by 1st of March, 2011 abstracts max. 250 words and CVs max.100 words to cesarguz(at) and mariya.ivancheva(at) . The provisional program of the conference will be known by the 15th of March.

* full-length papers for this panel must be sent in by the 15th of April 2011
** The organizers provide hotel accommodation (two nights) and meals for all presenters.

Titelbild: Performance von Pussy Riot auf dem Roten Platz (Foto: Pussy Riot Blog)

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