Living through the Interregnum: Democracy, the Polis and the Subject in Crisis

full name / name of organization: an Anglophone journal of comparative literary studies

Synthesis Journal
Volume VIII (2014)
Living through the Interregnum: Democracy, the Polis and the Subject in Crisis
Maro Germanou & Mina Karavanta
Special Issue Editors
The current event of the global economic recession that threatens the political, cultural and social structures of democratic states in the first decade of the twenty-first century; the insurgencies in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria; the exponential rise of unemployment and poverty in the countries of the European South; and the threatened position of the humanities and the human are stark symptoms of the waning of the symbolic, cultural and political capital of modernity. Indeed, the destabilization, even precarious position of democracy in the age of transnational capitalism, the dissolution of social bonds and alliances, and the disappearance of labor rights and laws are only a few of the symptoms of living through the interregnum, a term that Étienne Balibar, invoking Antonio Gramsci, has recently used to describe this age of crisis. If this is an age of ends, it is also an age of beginnings, an age of "just befores," just before the consolidation of the new formations, collectivities, and discourses that harbor the promise of the new. Democracy, the polis and the subject are in crisis; yet, this crisis constitutes a multitudinous event that affiliates the political, social and economic claims of different peoples from various territories and cultures that now share the anxiety over the exhausted capital of modernity on which they have unevenly drawn.
Signifying both the promise of the new and the destruction of the old, the event of the crisis summons the histories of the concepts of democracy, the polis, and the subject as a citizen, worker, and ethical singularity and requires a critical revisionism of these histories in the present. Greece is an interesting case in point; once represented as the cradle of European civilization, now the example of an economically rogue state in Europe, it showcases the economic, political and cultural dimensions of the crisis. The symbolic habitat of democracy, the polis and the citizen, now the site of their disintegration and default, Greece today comprises the key terrain for several epistemological, political, cultural and economic conflicts. As the sign that affiliates the imaginary space of the birth of democracy with the real political space where democracy is in a precarious condition the Greek case can gesture to the rethinking of the epistemological and political gap between the classical ideal of democracy and its modern reinvention as part of the capitalist, imperialist and colonialist mapping of the world that has led to the systematic expropriation and marginalization of non Western cultures within and outside the West.
This special issue of Synthesis invites essays that reconstellate the concepts of democracy, the polis and the subject in an age that witnesses the pressing call for democracy and justice manifested in the form of various collectivities, discourses and narratives that try to invent and articulate new visions of the political.
Possible topics include, but are not restricted to:
• Greece: The Economic and Cultural Crisis in the Present
• The Europe of Brussels vs the Europe of peoples: Reinventing Europe in the Age of Crisis
• Democracy as Utopia, Utopia as Democracy
• The IMF and the State of Exception: From Democracy to Neocolonialism
• Civil Rights and the Right to Disobedience
• The Right to a Polis: Constituted and Unconstituted constituencies
• New Solidarities and Social Subversion: Indignation and Dignity
• The Spectacle of Crisis and the role of the Mass Media
Detailed proposals (800-1,000 words) for articles of 6,000-7,000 words and a short bio (up to 300 words), as well as all inquiries regarding this issue should be sent to both issue editors: Maro Germanou (margerma[at]enl.uoa[dot]gr) and Mina Karavanta (
30 July 2013 submissions of abstracts
30 August 2013 notification of acceptance
30 April 2014 submission of articles