Utopia and political theology today (September 26-28, 2014, University of Zadar).

full name / name of organization: 
Rethinking Humanities and Social Science Conference

Deadline: June 15th,2014

Keynote speaker: Simon Critchley (The New School for Social Research, New York)

Roundtable: Eric Santner (Department of Germanic Studies, University of Chicago), Fred Botting (English Literature and Creative Writing, Kingstone University), Mark Devenney (Politics and Philosophy, University of Brighton), Laura Mulvey (Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies, University of London)

Guest artist: Brandon Labelle (Bergen Academy of Art)

The Book of Revelations describes the Holy City, a New Jerusalem with transparent glassy streets and pearly walls – a city so heavenly that, "The nations will walk by its light" (Revelation 22.24). All nations, the poor, outcasts, all races, all human forms, will dwell forever within the Light of the Lord. In The City of God Saint Augustine developed this Heavenly City as an idealised polis, as an eternal haven of joy above and beyond the material world of the dying Roman Empire. "An eternal haven of joy", a "light for all human forms" signals the emotional dimension of the utopian promise for the oppressed, the noncountable, the marginalized, the different, the singular. Today, after the catastrophic failure of the communist projects at the end of the last century and the global domination of liberal democracy, perhaps more than ever we miss this emotional side of the utopian faith. Perhaps this is the reason for the recent theological revival and the unusual upturn in interest in political theology.

The utopian side of political theology today calls us to reexamine and rethink what it means to be a human self and what selves might be together. How are contemporary politics, art and culture contaminated by different forms of the sacred? How is dominant liberal discourse and the myth of modernity as a pure secular form of politics interiorized and maintained? How does the discourse of 'crisis' connect to submissions of the oppressed and production of the sense of a 'damaged future'? Does any emancipatory project require what Simon Critchley calls both a counterfactual faith and utopian faith in radical social imagination as a performative alternative to biocapitalism?

We invite papers that address these questions through critical examination of the ways utopian faith has been envisaged in literature, film, performance, art, politics, philosophy…. We hope that the participation of scholars from different fields and disciplines of humanities and social sciences will create new avenues for critically-oriented scholarship and collaboration.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

the political promise of the performative (political deployments of performativity in art, performances, literature, film, individual actions, movements, protests….etc.)
the survival of different forms of utopias in dystopias – e.g., in new forms of life often represented as monsters (zombies….)
the utopian faith in images, or in the possibility to 'liberate' images across gender/class/race division….
the utopian promise of plural performativity and the politics of memoralization
the affects of belonging and discourses on the good life and collective well-being
sound and sonic utopianism
revisiting the "classics" of political theology (Benjamin, Schmitt, Kantorowicz, etc.)
the challenge of capital to emancipatory politics
time and temporality of (political) change
the meaning of "messianic" in late capitalism

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