CFP: Democracy, Resistance, and the Practice of Literature (Deadline October 10, 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Sourit Bhattacharya and Arka Chattopadhyay/Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry

Democracy, Resistance, and the Practice of Literature
Sanglap Vol I No. II

Recent world politics has witnessed the rise of a certain style of authoritarianism: a cult of masculine leadership, a popular rhetoric of foreign investment and development, and a phobia of the illegal immigrant made into an ethical obligation. These contradictory forms of politics – the paean to multinational corporations, free trade, and 'bloc'-ing of power and the simultaneous mobilization of hyper-nationalism in the form of censoring books and throttling subversive aesthetic practices – characterise the conception and practice of what may be called authoritarian democracy. Considering the democratically elected basis of this authoritarianism, it becomes all the more important to ask if democracy paves the way for it. How do we understand and tackle this contradictory figure of a democratic authoritarianism? What score does this neo-authoritarianism have to settle with its historical past? In what ways does this political practice speak to the historical emergence of nationhood and global colonialism in imperialist Britain or Germany? In these dark days of democracy, we need to reconsider the question, which has been doing the rounds for some time now: is parliamentary democracy yet another hegemonic tool of late-capitalism?

Where do we locate democracy today? Is it right to say that the real democratic space unfolds itself in people's movements and not in the electoral process? If this is the case, a radical conception of democracy would have to account for a shift of emphasis from the locus of governance to that of resistance and co-option. How are we going to account for the corporatization of people's movement? Democracy may not always be the means but it can be one of the ends for the various acts of resistance such as the working class, anti-colonial, nationalist, feminist, LGBT, or constitutional multiculturalism. In our sour and hungry times, when state aggression is overpowering the geographical marking (Russia's in Ukraine or Israel's in Palestine), or strangling the voice of internal resistance (North Eastern regions in India), not to mention religious fundamentalism, we need to rethink the old questions of democracy and resistance. With Boko Haram or the Taliban practice, we have seen how resistance itself can produce a dangerous authoritarianism which further complicates the relations between democracy, authoritarianism and resistance. How do we historicize and ethically theorize resistance in relation to both democracy and an authoritarianism which borders on fascism?

We invite investigations into democracy, resistance and authoritarianism through the lens of literature and other cultural and aesthetic practices. Not only do we seek papers that attempt to locate such complex in 'literary' representations, but also those which tap into what can arguably be called the inherently democratic nature of literary and cultural practice. Does the generic flexibility of literature permit a complete freedom of expression? What does the dead and reborn literary author have to say about the unstable fulcrum of democracy and authoritarianism? 'Sãhitya,' the Sanskrit word for 'literature' is replete with suggestions of the collective and that of togetherness and this brings us back to the fundamental question: what is the nature of the 'community' literature and other aesthetic practices can open up? Is this community premised on a principle of equality? The slogans, banners and popular rhetoric in protest marches have always borrowed from literary and philosophical traditions. The literary has often been constitutive to acts of resistance so much so that we can perhaps say that the spectacle of democratic resistance offers an aesthetic experience in itself. In recent times, the digital culture of protest has mobilized the poetics of new media. We can consider here, the blogs, songs and poems playing a crucial role in the 2013 Shahbag protests in Bangladesh.

In this call for papers, we look forward to contributions which help us think through the potentialities of a literary democracy and an aesthetic of resistance. The submissions may cover any of the following threads, without being limited to them:

Democracy, resistance, and the nation-state
Representation of democracy and resistance in literary works
Democracy and globalization
Resistance and decolonization
Resistance as an aesthetic practice
Literary community and democracy
Cultures of dissent
New media and the forms of protest
Resistance and gender discourse
Late capitalism and the cultures of postmodernity
The sacred and the secular
Democracy and world literature

The articles should be strictly within 7,000 words (excluding endnotes and references), sent with an abstract not exceeding 200 words and 5 keywords to

The last date for submitting articles is October 10, 2014. Decisions will be communicated to the authors by the end of November, 2014. For more information, please log in: