How can we respond to the pervasive sense of disappointment and left melancholia lingering in the wake of the failed projects of revolutionary societal transformation? Among theorists and activists alike, twentieth-century narratives of inevitable progress and universal human emancipation have been replaced by a sober reckoning with past disappointments, failures and defeats. At the same time, narratives of loss can have a stifling effect on our sense of political possibility, quenching any residual hopes for a better world. Moving beyond lamentation of failure, this workshop asks how an engagement with past disappointments, losses and defeats can help us creatively respond to the difficulties and failures of resistance – and inspire our imagination of political alternatives in the present. It addresses this question by providing a platform for a mutually enriching dialogue between theorists, activists and engaged artists. The contributors address the conjunction of high aspirations and deep disappointments within the modern revolutionary experience – from the socialist and anti-colonial revolutions of the twentieth century to the multipronged struggles for justice and equality today. The purpose is to confront the challenges involved in resisting oppression in the present era of political disillusion and identify sustainable strategies for tackling disengagement from public sphere.
- Nermin Allam, Rutgers University – Newark
- Lawrie Balfour, University of Virginia
- Jonathan Dean, University of Leeds
- Janine Francois, an academic, activist and cultural producer
- Ganzeer, an artist, designer and storyteller
- Ann Rigney, University of Utrecht
- Srila Roy, University of the Witwatersrand
- Mathias Thaler, University of Edinburgh
- Briana Toole, Claremont McKenna College
The workshop will assume the form of three 90 minutes long synchronous sessions over the course of three days. The sessions will be scheduled to accommodate different time zones. The contributors will be asked to provide short, 10-15 minute reflections on the theme, which will be followed by a brief discussion among the presenters and questions from the audience.
Organising team: Maša Mrovlje and Gisli Vogler
Event co-sponsored by: Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), CRITIQUE – Centre for Ethics and Critical Thought, The School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh