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After my research semester at ZiF Bielefeld, I’m looking forward to teaching again: This semester I am teaching two MA seminars, on standpoint theories and on radical democratic theory. Both seminars aim to analyze and advance current debates about identity politics and democracy: Is democracy being corroded by particular identity politics? Or is democracy based precisely on continually critiquing contemporary notions of universality from particularist standpoints?
I am particularly pleased to welcome four experts as guests in the seminars this semester. Thank you, Manon Westphal, Kolja Möller, Benjamin Opratko, and Hilkje Charlotte Hänel - these will be exciting colloquium sessions!
HS Standpoint Theories (Summer Term 2021 / Online, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, MA Political Science).
Standpoint theories argue that our knowledge in certain areas depends on our social position. They are the philosophical basis of political critiques that argue with reference to social position, such as anti-racist or feminist critiques. Central to this is exposing as particular the hegemonic perspective of the culture of dominance, which sees itself as universally valid, and showing how much remains obscured from its gaze. Epistemically privileged, on the other hand, i.e. in a position to better evaluate a situation, are those who are themselves affected by social grievances. On the one hand, standpoint theories are an indispensable means of contemporary criticism and critical political theory; on the other hand, they are highly controversial. In current feuilletonistic culture wars, tempers flare over metaethical questions about the possibility or impossibility of universalist positions and the potential danger of relativism emanating from standpoint theories, as well as over questions of content. And even within the theoretical left there are warnings against a “positional fundamentalism” (Villa Braslavsky), i.e. an equation of possibilities of thought with social position. Against this background, the seminar serves as an intensive, philosophical and critical examination of the various schools of standpoint theories. Starting with feminist standpoint theory, through intersectional positions and recent debates around epistemic injustice and critical whiteness, to the postcolonial critique of Eurocentric universalism, we will probe the field. The readings will always focus on the question to what extent the respective standpoint theory is informative for today’s post-democratic situation and can contribute to a “democratization of democracy”. The goal of the seminar is for students to develop their own systematic position on the problems discussed in the seminar and to elaborate it in the term paper as a scholarly contribution to a current debate.
- Sandra Harding
- Nancy Hartsock
- Patricia Hills Collins
- Donna Haraway
- Sandra Harding
- Charles Mills
- Miranda Fricker
- José Medina
- Shannon sullivan
- Olúfémi táíwò
- Walter Mignolo
- Colloquium session with Hilkje Charlotte Hänel
HS Identity and Representation in Radical Democratic Theory (Summer Term 2021 / Online, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, MA Political Science).
Radical democratic theory steps in to correct the blind spots of hegemonic liberal or deliberative democratic theory. The liberal school sees the political as determined by rational processes of negotiation and is concerned with the most universalistic possible justification of democratic institutions. The radical theory of democracy is different: It assumes that the political is essentially a power struggle. It understands the political as contested and based on contingent foundations, and existing institutional orders as necessarily particularistic. Accordingly, political order is the result of antagonistic disputes; it is the order of the victors, which is therefore always inclusive for some and exclusive for others. A universalist position can therefore never be achieved, but both orders and their normative justifications must remain particular. For radical democratic theory, therefore, democracy and politics are not about negotiation within existing democratic institutions, but about the radical critique of the institutional order and its exclusions, with the aim of making it more inclusive. Radical democratic theory sees these resistant processes as fundamental for the deepening and maintenance of democracy - consequently: for the democratization of democracy. Yet in current research of radical democratic theory, two aspects of the democratization of democracy are hardly addressed: On the one hand, the emergence of political subjectivity in identity politics projects, through which resistant movements become possible in the first place; on the other hand, the representation of movements in the political public sphere and established institutions, which seems to be crucial for the success of democratization efforts. The seminar asks about the systematic connection of these two poles within radical democratic theory. In doing so, it will explore the hypothesis that particular identity politics is necessary for the democratization of democracy. This is also an intervention in current debates about “identity politics”, which today is mostly claimed that its particularity corrodes the common solidary we or reasonable democratic deliberation - and thus democracy. For this we read central authors of radical democratic theory, who stand for different varieties: With Laclaus and Mouffe’s “Hegemony and Radical Democracy” we enter the discussion. With Claude Lefort, we get to know a tendency toward a liberal variety of radical democracy and examine the significance of political institutions and representation in it. Jacques Rancière, on the other hand, is the most important representative of an anarchist variety of radical democracy. Ernesto Laclau’s recent work on left populism, on the other hand, argues that taking power in state institutions is important for radical democracy. Last, we engage with Etienne Balibar on the importance of citizenship for the democratization of democracy. After this study section, we have four sessions in which experts on different varieties of radical democracy are guests in the seminar, with each of whom we discuss a text in colloquium format.
- Lefort 1
- Lefort 2
- Laclau 1
- Laclau 2
- Balibar 1
- Balibar 2
- Colloquium with Kolja Möller
- Colloquium with Benjamin Opratko
- Colloquium with Manon Westphal
Under teaching there is info about past seminars.
- New Podcast: Radical Theory of Democracy. A Perspective to Understand the Contestations of Gender Rights, 21. April 2022
- Teaching in the winter term: Struggles about academic freedom and freedom of expression (MA) and Identity Politics (BA, in English), 2. November 2021
- New Publication: Constructivist Identity Politics. Why Democracy Requires Particular Positioning (Journal of Political Science), 25. October 2021
- Publication: The Last Universalism. Foucault's Freedom and the Justification of Radical Democracy in Postfundamentalism, in 'The Political (in) Political Theory', 6. October 2021
- September program: Foucault and sexual liberation, academic freedom and authoritarianism, identity politics and polarization, the future of radical democracy, neoliberalism and anti-genderism, 5. September 2021