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September comes with a full program of lectures and conferences! Here’s the overview, detailed info below.


It started with a panel discussion at the Erlanger Poetenfest on identity politics with Erich Hattke and Nana Brink.

On Tuesday, 7.9, 18h I will speak at the CSD Halle on sexuality and political critique. Many thanks to AIDS Hilfe Halle for the invitation!

On Friday, 10.9, 12h I will speak at the MANCEPT workshop “Authoritarian Moments” by Felix Petersen and Verena Frick on Authoritarianism and Academic Freedom.

At the DVPW Congress, I continue on Tuesday, 9/14 at 16h30 at the panel DiE17, Polarization and Democracy with my talk on “Polarization, Identity Politics, and Democracy”.

And September will end with a talk on PrEP and sexual liberation at the HOPE conference of AIDS Hilfe Bern on Saturday, Oct. 2.

In addition, I am organizing and/or moderating three different events: A theory panel at the conference Populism, Protest, and New Forms of Political Organization: Ten Years after the Movements of the Squares at the FU Berlin (8.-10.9), the Panel MiD24 “Transformation des Politischen. New Perspectives on Radical Theory of Democracy” DVPW Congress (with Lucas von Ramin) on Wednesday, 15.9, 14h30 and the Panel DiD26 “From Neoliberalism to Authoritarian Populism. Gender political challenges” (with Nina Eggers and Brigitte Bargetz) on Tuesday, 14.9, 14h30.


CSD Halle / AIDS Hilfe Halle: Sexuality and Political Critique. A new approach to sexual liberation with Foucault, PrEP, and biopolitics.

7.9 18h, Halle

Martin Luther University, Melanchthonianum Lecture Hall XX, Universitätsring 9, Halle (Saale)
In the gay sexual liberation of the 70s, there was brief queer life avant la lettre. It was interrupted by the AIDS crisis: The increasing stigma of the disease led gay politics to adopt more homonormative forms, which later solidified with improved legal equality. PrEP can help end this stigma, removing a key driver of homonormativity today, making queerer forms of sexuality and politics possible. Through an analysis of the political struggles over PrEP and its effect on gay subjectivity, the presentation develops a new theory of sexual liberation according to Foucault. While this involves critiquing repressive norms, it does not involve uncovering a natural sexuality underneath, but rather creating new norms in a communal process. This includes the struggle for the self-determined use of biotechnology and medicine, which must be appropriately available for this purpose. Sexuality and politics are negatively linked: Repressive sexuality leads to homonormative politics that prevent queer solidarity. Conversely, sexual liberation through PrEP can enable new queer solidarity beyond homonormative politics of interest.
Supported by MSD SHARP & DOHME GmbH See Less

Radio report on the lecture

MANCEPT Workshop “Authoritarian Moments”: Authoritarianism and Academic Freedom

Organized by Felix Petesen and Verena Frick, 10.9, 12h, Zoom

Restrictions of academic freedom are commonly attributed to authoritarian regimes. However, in recent years, academic freedom became politically contested in Western liberal democracies. At the center of these contestations are critical theories that question and criticize societal power structures. On the one hand, such theories are criticized for promoting ‘political correctness’ within the academy and thereby limiting academic freedom. On the other hand, it is precisely these theories that are attacked by politicians, resulting in state-driven, external limitation of academic freedom (for example by influencing job hires or redistributing funding). The paper proposes to interpret such state restrictions of academic freedom as “authoritarian moments” within liberal democracies which are infact fueled by the contemporary critique of alleged restrictions of academic freedom by critical theories. It shows that the authoritarian attacks on critical theories are philosophically based on universalism and argues that the systematic privileging of particularist minoritarian perspectives is needed not only for strengthening academic freedom, but also for creating robust political institutions that resist authoritarian developments. Therefore, it interprets “identity politics” as key element of a defense against authoritarian moments in liberal democracies.

DVPW-Congress Panel DiE17, “Polarization and Democracy”: Polarization, Identity Politics, and Democracy

Tuesday, 14.9, 16h30, Zoom

In the debate on polarization, “identity politics” is often cited as an important cause of social divisions. The polarization intensified by identity politics corrodes democratic discourse and prevents solidarity-based politics. In the lecture I will argue for the opposite thesis: Only with the help of polarization induced by identity politics can politics be made more democratic. I justify the thesis with reference to radical democratic theories, which show that the current hegemony only allows privileged perspectives and is therefore limited. To continuously correct this structural bias of institutionalized politics, the particular perspectives developed in identity politics projects are necessary, as standpoint theories and recent work on epistemic injustice show. But this is not just an epistemic problem, but a politepistemic one. This means that simply pointing out the limited perspective is not enough to change hegemonies. For this, additional power politics is necessary, for example through different forms of protest and scandalization, with which identity-political projects of the majority society make themselves heard. This - often necessarily loud and confrontational - pushing of new perspectives into the public sphere leads to polarization. When identity politics power politics is successful, it induces learning processes that lead to a reform of the institutional order and a transformation of hegemony, which in turn decreases polarization. Polarization is thus not a problem to this radical democratic perspective, but, like identity politics, is a necessary part of the democratization of democracy. Which in turn does not mean that polarization is an end in itself: On the contrary, the (distant) normative horizon of identity politics polarization is the democratic promise of equal freedom and inclusion.


DiD26 | From Neoliberalism to Authoritarian Populism. Gender political challenges

Organized by / Organized by: Dr. Brigitte Bargetz (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel), Nina Elena Eggers (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel), Dr. Karsten Schubert (ZiF Bielefeld/Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
Tuesday, 14.9, 14h30
Unterstützende Untergliederung(en) / Supporting Grouping(s): Section “Political Theory and History of Ideas”; Section “Politics and Gender”, Working Group “Politics and Culture”, Thematic Group “Populism”

Abstracts: Numerous theories and concepts of populism assume that authoritarian populism can be interpreted as a reaction to a crisis of representation in liberal democracies, which can be attributed in particular to the erosion of democracy by neoliberalism. It can gain strength at the moment when the established parties no longer succeed in uniting voters behind them and polarization intensifies. Populism appeals to the “people” and the will of the people, which is discursively contrasted with an established elite, and thus takes the dissatisfaction and feelings of powerlessness in the population as the basis for mobilization against the existing party and state system. As early as the 1970s, Stuart Hall’s concept of authoritarian populism referred to an authoritarian turn “from above” that generates consent via moral panics. In this sense, the authoritarian populism we are currently witnessing in different parts of the world functions by stoking fears and moral panics among the population, creating and reinforcing resentment. The appeal to popular sovereignty is thereby played off against certain minorities. A central element of all currently observable forms of authoritarian populism is the demand for a retraditionalization of gender images and family concepts, which in many cases is accompanied by explicit misogyny and LGBTIQ hostility. The right-wing authoritarian struggle against feminism and “gender ideology” has enormous mobilizing power, especially in its linkage with racist mobilization. This also leads to paradoxes such as a defense against migration that is justified by the emancipation of women and queer people. Yet the relationship between neoliberalism, authoritarian populism, and “anti-genderism” is contested in research. Our cross-cutting event examines it from perspectives critical of capitalism and right-wing populism, feminist and queer, in order to think about how to counter regressive gender politics and thus “defend” democracy against authoritarianism. Where and how does the governance of sexual freedom and sexual security intersect in relation to authoritarianism and neoliberalism? How do right-wing populist LGBTIQ hostility and pushes for the retraditionalization of families and carework contribute to the development of neoliberal authoritarianism? And what analyses and recommendations for action does queer and feminist theory contribute to the democratization of democracy in authoritarian times? We want to shed light on and discuss these questions in three selected areas.

(1) Gundula Ludwig: On the fantasmatic logics of sexual politics in authoritarian neoliberalism and authoritarian populism (working title).
(2) Paula Diehl: What place for Michelle? Postfeminist Spaces in Bolsonaro’s Authoritarian Populism (working title).
(3) Mike Laufenberg: Pandemic Populism. Queer politics in the pincer grip of authoritarian notions of freedom and heteronormative security (working title).

MiD24 | Transformation of the Political. New Perspectives on Radical Theory of Democracy

Organized von / Organized by: Dr. Karsten Schubert (University of Freiburg), Lucas von Ramin (University of Dresden)
Wednesday, 15.9, 14h30
Unterstützende Untergliederung(en) / Supporting Grouping(s): Working Group “Constructivist Theories of Politics”, Working Group “Politics and Law”, Working Group “Politics and Culture”, Topic Group “Populism Chair: Dr. Lucas von Ramin (University of Dresden), Discussant: Dr. Karsten Schubert (University of Freiburg)

The 2010s are a bleak decade for liberal democracies: the enormous rise in power of right-wing populist parties and tendencies of authoritarianism challenge the liberal democratic consensus. The radical theories of democracy emphasize the fundamental conflictuality and contingency of the political and have proved particularly useful for analyzing and criticizing depoliticization processes in Western parliamentarism. They predicted that conflicts displaced from everyday politics would blaze a trail in the form of fundamentalist opposition to the democratic project. In the course of the political developments of the 2010s, such a dynamization of the political has occurred, but it includes not only left-wing and ecologically motivated movements, but right-wing populism in particular. This raises the question to what extent theories of radical democracy still help to describe and support emancipative and resistant politicization. For on the one hand, the corpus of theory seems to be confirmed by developments and is therefore urgently needed for analyses of the present; on the other hand, its normative and politico-practical helplessness also becomes apparent in view of the increasing attacks on the liberal order: is it still timely to deconstruct the liberal order when it is in any case being challenged by a disproportionately more powerful opponent from the right who is attempting to carry out the authoritarian turn by deliberately dismantling liberal institutions? How do radical democratic theories position themselves on parliamentary institutions and the rule of law? Can they remain true to their radical normativity only by criticizing any structures of domination, or does a realist radical democratic theory need a more affirmative notion of liberal institutions? By negotiating these questions, the panel aims to develop approaches to updating radical democratic theory for the 2020s.

Beiträge / Contributions: A metatheoretical look at radical theories of democracy.
Dr. Sabrina Zucca-Soest (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg).
Liberal democracies and the constitutional state-centered legitimation strategies associated with them are currently being fundamentally questioned. In a globalized and highly fragmented world, this is happening from the outside, as well as through a strengthening of authoritarianism and populism from within. The liberal democratic constitutional state derives its claim to validity from a previously consensual and rarely questioned legitimacy construct. It is precisely here that radical theories of democracy attack when they point to the need for emancipative politicization. Theoretically, too, the question arises here whether radical theories of democracy can act as a cure or a major threat to the much-discussed “crisis of democracy.” The neuralgic point here is the justificatory capacity, the legitimacy, of democratic orders. Legitimacy can be understood either in terms of the actual existence of an approving subjective attitude toward norms and collectively binding decisions on the part of those involved in a political or social order (descriptive approach, ex post) - or as the ability of a system of rules designed in a special way to be able to produce precisely this approval (prescriptive approach, hypothetical-anticipatory). Even radical theories of democracy must position themselves on the tension between descriptive and prescriptive reasoning. For even in the most radical variant of a theory of democracy there is the necessity of a feedback of empirical, normatively substantial facts to the normative basic premises that justify them. This meta-theoretical view of radical theories of democracy should help to shed new light on their emancipatory power and the conditions for their claim to validity.

Radical democratic theory between theory and practice
Katharina Liesenberg (Darmstadt University of Technology)
Critical theorizing faces the question of its own practical relevance in the face of multiple social crises. Theories of radical democracy allow for the critical contestation of existing power relations, but seem incapable of making such insights also applicable to political practice. Yet there is a lack of engagement with political institutions, as well as a lack of translatability between theory and practice. With reference to Jacques Rancière, John Dewey, and Iris Marion Young, I will first describe the logic of inclusion and exclusion that political institutions and practices follow (1). However, the fact that institutions also have an exclusionary effect should not prevent radical theorizing from developing a concept of order. An understanding of order makes it possible to grasp agency not only individually but also collectively (2). It is shown that shifts between private and public are constitutive for politics and the political and that institutions have to react to this (3). Finally, in order to do justice to current political challenges, (4) the materiality of social conditions and the background conditions of capitalism (Fraser/Jaeggi 2020) must be addressed. Following Dewey and Young, structures of order are made theoretically plausible that do practical justice to such material conditions of life. Experimental structures of order that leave room for democracy as an experience and a way of life (Dewey), just as they take into account power relations of common socialization (Young) (5), are a necessary and essential component of a practice-oriented critical theory. In summary, it is shown that such an approach requires going beyond poststructuralist analyses and, with Dewey, integrating democratic socialism as the most radical of all liberal forms of organization into radical theorizing. Radical Theories of Democracy under Pressure to Normalize?

Prof. Dr. Oliver Flügel-Martinsen (University of Bielefeld)
Radical theories of democracy (RDT) have been able to establish themselves as a newer approach compared to conventional approaches such as liberal or deliberative theories of democracy. However, they owe this increasing attention not only to other substantive positions such as the emphasis on conflict and dissent, but also to the fact that they are characterized by a different conceptual orientation compared to normative theories of democracy: Whereas normative theories of democracy typically aim to justify models of democracy, many RDTs emphasize interrogative critiques of existing orders. As the panel announcement points out, this position seems to place them in an ambivalent situation when critiques of the institutional orders of liberal democratic systems of government become the norm-but are more likely to come from right-wing rather than left-wing movements that hijack the semantics of democracy as they seek to undermine pluralist democratic practices. More recently, therefore, there have been increasing voices calling for a radical democratic theory of institutions, and with it the claim that RDTs cannot remain in the mode of critique. I will argue that these demands for a theory of institutions develop into a pressure to normalize RDT. If they accept this, they run the risk of recognizing the standards of normative theories of democracy and thereby forfeiting their contingency-theoretical openness, which is what opens up their radicality in the first place. This does not mean that RDTs have to adopt a hostile attitude towards institutions. But they lose their radicality if they allow themselves to be committed to the justification of institutions. The democratic practice that RDT emphasize must therefore remain one of radical inquiry. RDTs differ from right-wing, pseudo-democratic critiques of institutional orders in the openness that leads to a persistent questioning of their own premises.

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