Antipolitics: From New Anarchisms to the Alt-Right

deadline for submissions: 
January 29, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT)
contact email: 

This graduate student conference seeks to analyze the emergence of new forms of antipolitics over the last several decades. If politics has meant many things to many people, from statecraft and representation to movements for social change, antipolitics names an array of practices, discourses, and structures of feeling linked by the contention that politics is a dead end.

Antipolitics typically involves a rejection of the state and electoralism. It can also name a refusal of hierarchy, governance, and mediation more broadly. In theory, it runs the gamut from Deleuze and Guattari’s provocation “There is no ideology and never has been” to some forms of Afropessimism, affect theory, and new materialism. In struggle, it’s evident in ultraleftisms and anarchisms, from Athens to Chiapas to Ferguson. The proliferation of mutual aid networks during the COVID-19 pandemic may be antipolitical. So, too, the horizontality of many Black Lives Matter actions, occupations of public space, and housing struggles. But antipolitics also holds sway on the right, as in libertarian populisms and alt-right discourses excoriating the “deep state,” liberal technocrats, and identity politics. Politicians themselves can be antipolitical: Trump and Bolsonaro have been described in such terms, and they certainly aren’t the first to run on repugnance for something referred to pejoratively as “politics.” All told, there may be nothing inherently radical about antipolitics, for aversion to the political is in many ways the most socially neutral posture imaginable.

We seek paper proposals from graduate students in any field whose research brings questions to bear on contemporary antipolitics. To apply, submit a 250-word abstract and short biographical statement as a single document to Anna Searle Jones ( by Friday, January 29.

The conference will take place on the afternoons of Friday, February 26, and Saturday, February 27, 2021. It wil be held over Zoom in panels moderated by UChicago graduate students. Papers will be given as 15-minute oral presentations. We will not be precirculating materials.

We welcome proposals from current graduate students at any institution. Approved presenters will be notified on Monday, February 1. Questions may be directed to the coordinators: Jack Chelgren (, Lily Scherlis (, and Esther Isaac (

Potential topics:

  • New anarchisms, anarcho-communisms, and libertarianisms
  • The alt-right; populisms and nationalisms
  • The apolitical
  • Contemporary labor struggles and politics
  • Antipolitical approaches to Blackness, Indigeneity, and racialization
  • Austerity, the fate of the nation-state, political economies of the 21st century
  • Antipolitical epistemologies and ethics; conspiracy theories
  • Antipolitical ecologies, geographies, and negotiations of space (direct action, mutual aid, rioting, squatting, land seizures, rent strikes)
  • Pandemic politics and neglect (by the state, by capital)
  • Mediation and its discontents

For more information see: