Resistance, Disobedience, Strike: Dissent In the Age of Authoritarian Populism

Barcelona, Spain
This event has been postponed. Rescheduled date to be announced.


Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona

Are we to conclude that the collective enthusiasm and radical hope associated with Tahrir Square, Gezi Park, Hong Kong Central, Zuccotti Park, the Puerta del Sol, and other sites of public demonstrations of the left were simply fleeting moments which now give way to an authoritarian backlash and repression coupled with reactionary populism? The criminalization of dissent is not new. And yet, the recent rise to power of right-wing populist movements and the fraternal consolidation among authoritarian leaders poses new challenges to movements for democratization and political self-determination, including the resistance to occupation, disenfranchisement, austerity, and statelessness and the struggle for freedom and equality among the marginalized, especially women and LGBTQ people. What happens when such movements are criminalized rather than protected by legal or human rights? How do we understand the criminalization of those who seek to support rescue migrants at sea or offer them food and water as they travel across the US Mexican border? How does the sphere of politics, and justice, open up as separate from the domain of law, or take form as a critique of legal violence? This workshop will provide a forum for discussing the political potential of various forms of what Hannah Arendt called “acting in concert” in the current political conjuncture. Guided by the conviction that any answer to this question must bring together theory, activism and experimental cultural practices and by provincializing Europe, we hope to engage a range of interlocutors for global discussion of resistance, civil disobedience, and the strike, foregrounding the ambivalent place of law in contemporary resistance movements.

Among the concrete questions we hope to pursue are these: What forms does emancipatory dissent take today; On which infrastructures and resources can it build? What are the new languages, performances, and experimental practices offered by new resistance movements? How can movements respond to the multivalent threat of violence coming from the extreme right, the state, the family, found on the border, in the streets, the home, the workplace, and online? Is it possible still for a collective commitment to non-violence to hold out radical potential in our times? What meaning can be given to collective self-defense? How do local, transnational and transregional interconnections build new forms of alliance—say, between the “Kurdish question” in Turkey, the “Catalan question” in Spain, the sustained colonization of Palestine, Ni Una Menos and the struggle against sexual violence and feminicidio throughout Latin America and Europe? What distinguishes the new repertoires of resistance on the left—from the occupation of public squares via dissent online to the feminist strike and practices of escrache that span post-dictatorial politics and anti-eviction movements? How does the left distinguish itself from those forms of right-wing protest that seek to absorb left rhetorics and tactics? What anti- or non-hegemonic forms of movement building are on the rise, and what is their relation to institutions? Is there a Left nationalism? A way to reinvent the party system? What is the future of municipalism in relation to transregional and transnational alliances built across networks both on- and offline? Are we creating from nothing, or recalling and reworking past struggles as we act? Do we act spontaneously, and can our actions translate into enduring and radical social transformation?


Robin Celikates
Frei Universität, Berlin

Judith Butler
UC Berkeley

Program and further details to be announced.