Upcom­ing Activities

YIS­ARES 2024: Demo­graph­ic Imag­i­nar­ies: Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism, Majori­tar­i­an Iden­ti­ty Pol­i­tics and Demo­graph­ic Anxieties.


15. July 202420. July 2024

Loca­tion: Budapest, Hun­gary (CEU Campus)

Inter­na­tion­al sum­mer school con­vened joint­ly by the Research Group Soft Author­i­tar­i­anisms, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men, Worlds of Con­tra­dic­tion, the Research Train­ing Group Con­tra­dic­tion Stud­ies and the Cen­tral Europan Uni­ver­si­ty’s Open Soci­ety Uni­ver­si­ty Net­work (OSUN)

Con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ments and far-right move­ments across dif­fer­ent coun­try con­texts share a set of strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar strate­gies that can be summed up as ‘demo­graph­ic imag­i­nar­ies.’ They facil­i­tate a back­lash against pro­gres­sive repro­duc­tive and women’s rights, same-sex mar­riage, and LGBT+ com­mu­ni­ties, the use of coer­cive poli­cies and rhetoric against reli­gious, eth­nic, and oth­er minori­ties, or anti-immi­­gra­­tion poli­cies. Demo­graph­ic anx­i­eties are nur­tured by con­spir­a­cy myths such as the nar­ra­tive of the “great replace­ment,” just as much as by oth­er forms of majori­tar­i­an iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics which imag­ine the major­i­ty (be it: white, Chris­t­ian and het­ero­sex­u­al, Hin­du Nation­al, Turk­ish Sun­ni Mus­lim, or Euro­pean etc.) as threat­ened by polit­i­cal, eth­nic, reli­gious, sex­u­al and oth­er minori­ties and their strug­gles for equal rights.
These demo­graph­ic imag­i­nar­ies are at the core of soft author­i­tar­i­an attempts to recon­sti­tute the body politic, trans­form­ing the pop­u­la­tion along eth­nic and social lines to uphold the elec­toral major­i­ty. A wide range of tac­tics from ger­ry­man­der­ing to neo-Malthu­sian devel­op­ment poli­cies and pop­u­la­tion con­trol, anti-abor­­tion leg­is­la­tion, anti- and pro-natal­ist dis­cours­es and poli­cies, are used to secure pow­er. By the inher­ent­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry con­cept of soft author­i­tar­i­an­ism, we mean to empha­size the spe­cif­ic ways in which democ­ra­cies are cur­rent­ly being under­mined from with­in. It describes a spe­cif­ic form of gov­ern­ment that delib­er­ate­ly blurs the lines between demo­c­ra­t­ic and author­i­tar­i­an rule.
This Sum­mer School will address the cen­tral role of these demo­graph­ic imag­i­nar­ies in facil­i­tat­ing soft author­i­tar­i­an pol­i­tics in dif­fer­ent parts of the world. It aims to approach this top­ic from an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and glob­al­ly com­par­a­tive per­spec­tive. Look­ing into the spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal, juridi­cal, cul­tur­al, tech­no­log­i­cal, and dis­cur­sive prac­tices in the dif­fer­ent coun­try con­texts, will prob­lema­tize how these nar­ra­tives and poli­cies remain entan­gled with long­stand­ing nation­al­ist, racist, and sex­ist notions and colo­nial fan­tasies. It will exam­ine how they are reframed today and the tech­no­log­i­cal infra­struc­tures and data-polit­i­­cal pre­sump­tions they involve. The Sum­mer School there­fore has the over­all goal of grasp­ing the extent of these pol­i­tics, their con­tra­dic­tions and effects, and the dan­gers that they entail for demo­c­ra­t­ic and peace­ful liv­ing together.

Past Activ­i­ties

Work­shop: Anti-Intel­lec­­tu­al­ism, Attacks on Aca­d­e­m­ic Free­dom and Illib­er­al Neoliberalism


Time: 10:15–11:45

Loca­tion: Meet­ing Room RTG Con­tra­dic­tion Stud­ies (GRA2 0030), Graz­er Str. 2, Bremen


Work­shop with Éric Fassin (Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis)

This inter­dis­ci­pli­nary work­shop will address the rise of neolib­er­al illib­er­al pol­i­tics and their con­nec­tion to anti-intel­lec­­tu­al­ism and dis­cours­es around aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom. Based on the guest lec­ture, we will dis­cuss a vari­ety of cas­es, rang­ing from the US-Amer­i­­can moral pan­ic around ‘Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry’, Bolsonaro’s inten­tion­al attacks on Uni­ver­si­ty fund­ing, dis­cours­es around ‘islamo-left­­ism’ and ‘wok­ism’ in France to the ban of Gen­der Stud­ies in Hun­gary. What do those cas­es and the grow­ing hos­til­i­ty against researchers tell us about the glob­al state of democ­ra­cy? How and why are aca­d­e­mics and their modes of knowl­edge pro­duc­tion tar­get­ed not only by far-right actors but increas­ing­ly also by the state?

The work­shop is open for stu­dents, PhD can­di­dates and Post-Doc researchers from all disciplines.

In prepa­ra­tion of the work­shop, par­tic­i­pants are asked to read the fol­low­ing chap­ters from Eric Fassin’s (2024) book State Anti-Intel­lec­­tu­al­ism & the Pol­i­tics of Gen­der and Race (avail­able via SUUB):

Intro­duc­tion: Anti-Intel­lec­­tu­al­ism and the Pol­i­tics of Truth (pp. 1–23)
Con­clu­sion: Democ­ra­cy and the Inter­sec­tion­al Pol­i­tics of Mourn­ing (pp. 149–160)
Epi­logue: In the First Per­son (pp. 161–172)

Reg­is­tra­tion for the work­shop via mail is pos­si­ble until May 30 (hstein­hauer [at] uni-bre­­men [dot] de)

State Anti-Intel­lec­­tu­al­ism & the Pol­i­tics of Gen­der and Race. Illib­er­al France and Beyond


Time: 18:15–19:45

Loca­tion: Uni­ver­sität Bre­men, SFG 0150


Guest Lec­ture with Éric Fassin (Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis)

In this guest lec­ture, Éric Fassin will present his new book State Anti-Intel­lec­­tu­al­ism and the Pol­i­tics of Gen­der and Race (CEU Press 2024). Using France as his main case study and com­bin­ing it with reflec­tions on the sit­u­a­tion in coun­tries such as Brazil, Turkey, Rus­sia, Hun­gary and the Unit­ed States, his book presents a com­pelling and care­ful analy­sis of cur­rent anti-intel­lec­­tu­al­ism. He argues that today’s anti-intel­lec­­tu­al­ism can no longer be ana­lyzed in terms of local pol­i­tics nor along Cold War geopo­lit­i­cal divi­sions. Instead, we are faced with a glob­al phe­nom­e­non, which is not lim­it­ed to osten­si­bly illib­er­al regimes.

Bring­ing togeth­er pub­lic inter­ven­tions, arti­cles and blogs which exam­ine exam­ples of state racism, gen­der pol­i­tics, cen­sor­ship and can­cel cul­ture in the peri­od from Pres­i­dent Sarkozy until today, as well as direct attacks against aca­d­e­mics – both first­hand and against oth­ers, Fassin’s book makes an urgent plea for the impor­tance of intel­lec­tu­al work in a glob­al moment of polit­i­cal anti-intellectualism.

Pan­el dis­cus­sion Bor­ders, Diver­si­ty and Cit­i­zen­ship in India 


Time: 18:30

Loca­tion: Mai­son de la paix, audi­to­ri­um A2, Gene­va Grad­u­ate Institute

Pan­el dis­cus­sion with Lipin Ram as part of the “Gene­va Democ­ra­cy Week” (Semaine de la démocratie)

To attend the event (with­out active par­tic­i­pa­tion), please reg­is­ter at:
Find fur­ther infor­ma­tion in this fly­er.

Anti-Gen­derism in France and Ger­many - a Transna­tion­al Illib­er­al Practice?


22. June 202324. June 2023

Loca­tion: TU Dres­den

A talk by Jonas Trochemowitz and Hagen Stein­hauer at the Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence “Trac­ing Forms of De/​​Marginalization”

Anti-gen­derism denotes dis­cours­es and move­ments that present gen­der and sex­u­al­i­ty with­in fem­i­nist and lgbtqia+ con­texts as dan­ger­ous ide­olo­gies (see Hark and Vil­la 2017). In France, one of the main polit­i­cal actors that tries to imple­ment an anti-gen­derist agen­da is the Manif pour Tous. Estab­lished in 2013, this move­ment aims at pre­vent­ing the legal­iza­tion of same-sex mar­riage and adop­tion rights. They also oppose what they call ‘gen­der ide­ol­o­gy’. In 2014, the Ger­man equiv­a­lent Demo für Alle came into exis­tence, adopt­ing the polit­i­cal prac­tices of Manif pour Tous.

Exam­in­ing these two case stud­ies from France and Ger­many, we present a com­par­a­tive dis­course analy­sis of both move­ments. More specif­i­cal­ly, we high­light the dif­fer­ences and sim­i­lar­i­ties in their self-posi­­tion­ing with respect to sex­u­al­i­ty and gen­der. To this end, we use cor­pus ana­lyt­ic meth­ods to ana­lyze the orga­ni­za­tions’ topoi and argu­men­ta­tive strate­gies (see Wen­gel­er 2003). We argue that both move­ments instru­men­tal­ize the nat­ur­al and social sci­ences (espe­cial­ly biol­o­gy) to dis­qual­i­fy gen­der stud­ies as a threat to tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly val­ues and the integri­ty of the nation. In this respect, they con­flate illib­er­al repro­duc­tive pol­i­tics and anti-intel­lec­­tu­al­ism with racist stances on issues of migra­tion (see Fassin 2020).

This col­lu­sion is a key char­ac­ter­is­tic of cur­rent soft author­i­tar­i­an attacks on lib­er­al democ­ra­cy. For instance, the illib­er­al trans­for­ma­tion of sev­er­al Euro­pean states is marked by an inher­ent­ly gen­dered modus operan­di where anti-gen­derism plays a vital role in unit­ing far-right, con­ser­v­a­tive and cler­i­cal actors behind one umbrel­la term (Grze­bal­s­ka & Pető 2018). 

Majoritäre Iden­tität­spoli­tiken als soft-autoritäre Herrschaftspraxis-


2. June 20233. June 2023

Time: 14:00

Loca­tion: Uni­ver­sität Wien // Online Stream

Vor­trag von Hagen Stein­hauer im Rah­men des Wiener Forum interkul­turellen Philosophierens

Eine Teil­nahme an der Ver­anstal­tung ist auch per Video-Stream (ohne aktive Teil­nahme an den Diskus­sio­nen) möglich; den Link find­en Sie zeit­nah auf der Home­page der WiGiP

Open ses­sion: “Cit­i­zen­ship and social move­ments in the con­text of crim­i­nal­iza­tion of migra­tion and mobilities”


Time: 12.00 – 13.30

Loca­tion: Jagiel­lon­ian Uni­ver­si­ty, Kraków & online after registration

Talk by Jens Adam: “On moral com­mu­ni­ty and dif­fer­ence. Majori­tar­i­an iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics as soft author­i­tar­i­an mode of gov­er­nance” as a part of the Crim­Scapes pro­jec­t’s two-day sem­i­nar ‘Crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion and Citizenship’. 

Open ses­sion on “Cit­i­zen­ship and social move­ments in the con­text of crim­i­nal­iza­tion of migra­tion and mobil­i­ties” with 

Jens Adam: On moral com­mu­ni­ty and dif­fer­ence. Majori­tar­i­an iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics as soft author­i­tar­i­an mode of gov­er­nance
Aga­ta Dzi­uban: Nav­i­gat­ing crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion: sex work, mobil­i­ty and con­test­ed cit­i­zen­ship
Jérémy Geer­aert: Impacts of crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion on activism. The case of search and res­cue in the Mediter­ranean Sea
Mod­er­a­tion: Juu­lia Kela

Online par­tic­i­pa­tion is pos­si­ble – the link will be pro­vid­ed upon reg­is­tra­tion. To reg­is­ter, please com­plete this form.

Moralis­che Gemein­schaft und Poli­tiken der Dif­ferenz. Ras­si­fizierung als san­ft-autoritäre Herrschaftspraxis


Time: 18:00

Loca­tion: Uni­ver­sität Göttingen

Addi­tion­al event info: Vor­trag von Dr. Jens Adam

Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit sind seit eini­gen Jahren in das Zen­trum poli­tis­ch­er Auseinan­der­set­zun­gen in Polen gerückt. Eine durch mehrere Wahlsiege legit­imierte Regierung ini­ti­iert Poli­tiken und mobil­isiert Diskurse, die demokratis­che Prinzip­i­en und Insti­tu­tio­nen gradu­ell aushöhlen. Durch das Zusam­men­wirken ein­er Vielzahl, mitunter sehr klein­teiliger, Ein­griffe und Verän­derun­gen ver­schieben sich die poli­tis­chen Koor­di­nat­en sukzes­sive zum Nachteil der poli­tis­chen und gesellschaftlichen Oppo­si­tion. „Demokratie“ als Regierungs­form wird nominell nicht in Frage gestellt, sie wird aber zunehmend zur Fas­sade hin­ter der sich eine san­ft-autoritäre Trans­for­ma­tion abspielt.

Mich inter­essiert, wie es hier­bei gelingt, Loy­al­ität und Zuge­hörigkeit herzustellen. Hierzu frage ich nach den Adres­sat­en oder Zielob­jek­ten san­ft-autoritär­er Poli­tiken und Sprech­weisen. Das Argu­ment lautet, dass diese Regierung­stech­nik in erster Lin­ie wed­er auf Gesellschaft – und somit auf einen Aus­gle­ich zwis­chen unter­schiedlichen Grup­pen und Inter­essen – noch auf Indi­viduen – deren Poten­ziale und Eigen­ver­ant­wor­tung es zu fördern gälte – aus­gerichtet ist. San­ft-autoritäres Regieren zielt stattdessen auf die Erschaf­fung ein­er moralis­chen Gemein­schaft. Durch die selek­tive Zuteilung von Ressourcen, Anerken­nung, Verpflich­tung und Dankbarkeit wird das Kollek­tiv der „berechtigten Polen“ poli­tisch kon­stru­iert und affek­tiv abgesichert. Familien‑, Geschichts- oder Migra­tionspoli­tiken lassen sich dann daraufhin unter­suchen, wie sie dieses Kollek­tiv „rein“ zu hal­ten ver­suchen, seine Gren­zen hinge­gen scharf markieren.

Diese Poli­tiken der Dif­ferenz werde ich anhand mein­er ethno­grafis­chen Beobach­tun­gen zu jün­geren Auseinan­der­set­zun­gen um Flucht, Migra­tion und Gren­ze exem­plar­isch analysieren. Flüch­t­ende und Migrant_​​innen aus dem Glob­alen Süden, die seit dem Som­mer 2021 über die belaru­sis­che Gren­ze Zugang nach Polen sucht­en, wur­den zum Zielob­jekt von Entrech­tung, staatlich­er Gewalt und medi­alen Has­skam­pag­nen. Die Regierung und ihre medi­alen Ver­bün­de­ten ver­sucht­en diese Prax­en durch einen kat­e­go­ri­alen Auss­chluss der Schutz­suchen­den als legit­im, wenn nicht sog­ar als notwendig, erscheinen zu lassen. Diese Prozesse der Ras­si­fizierung möchte ich als Teil ein­er san­ft-autoritären Herrschaft­sprax­is unter­suchen: Sie schaf­fen antag­o­nis­tis­che Andere und etablieren hier­durch zugle­ich eine durch Abwehr ver­bun­dene moralis­che Gemein­schaft, der gegenüber allein die Regierung Verpflich­tung zeigt.

Wenn Sie an dieser Ver­anstal­tung online teil­nehmen möcht­en, wen­den Sie sich bitte an Elis­a­beth Wolff unter e.wolff(at)

Exclu­sion­ary Inclu­sions: Race in (Trans)national imaginaries


Time: 18:15–19:45

Loca­tion: Rotunde (U Bre­men) and zoom


Dis­cus­sion with
Dr. Giu­lia Pelil­­lo-Hes­­ter­mey­er (U Hei­del­berg)
Dr. Deb­o­rah Nyan­gu­lu (U Bre­men)

Chair: Hagen Stein­hauer (RG Soft Authoritarianisms)

The first dis­cus­sion in WoC’s new Ago­ra for­mat will focus on the exclu­sion­ary effects of con­tem­po­rary dis­cours­es and pol­i­tics of inclu­sion. Tak­ing the glob­al­iza­tion and medi­a­ti­za­tion of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment as a start­ing point, the event will dis­cuss tran­scul­tur­al nego­ti­a­tions of anti-racism against the back­drop of dif­fer­ent colo­nial his­to­ries. The two dis­cus­sants will approach these ques­tions from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­pli­nary stand­points, includ­ing lin­guis­tics, tran­scul­tur­al­ism, and African Euro­pean Studies.

The aim of Ago­ra is to think togeth­er and fur­ther aca­d­e­m­ic exchanges across dis­ci­pli­nary boundaries.

Talk­ing Cul­tures. Anthro­pol­o­gy of the Far Right and its Mul­ti­ple Publics


Time: 18:15

Loca­tion: Rotunde, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men and on zoom

Addi­tion­al event info: Agniesz­ka Pasieka (Uni­ver­sität Bayreuth)


In her talk, Agniesz­ka Pasieka aims to reflect on the mul­ti­ple publics of anthro­po­log­i­cal schol­ar­ship, and more specif­i­cal­ly: on the (poten­tial) impact of the anthro­pol­o­gy of the far right on var­i­ous schol­ar­ly and non-schol­ar­­ly audi­ences. In so doing, her talk engages with some key con­cepts – such as “cul­ture,” “diver­si­ty,” and “iden­ti­ty” – that are cen­tral to anthro­po­log­i­cal schol­ar­ship, but which in recent decades have moved beyond the realm of aca­d­e­m­ic debates to mark the ter­rain of polit­i­cal bat­tles. In engag­ing with these cat­e­gories, she sketch­es the moral-polit­i­­cal imag­i­nary of con­tem­po­rary far-right activists and high­lights a trou­ble­some rela­tion­ship between far-right views and schol­ar­ly knowledge.

To join via zoom, pleas email: xiaoling(at)uni-bremen(dot)de

Pub­lic Pan­el Dis­cus­sion: Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism in Geopo­lit­i­cal Complexities


Time: 18:00 – 20:00 (CET)

Loca­tion: Online


In this pub­lic open­ing event of our YIS­ARES 2022 autumn school four pan­elists will reflect on the effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine on soft author­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ments and ten­den­cies. On the one hand, they will address geopo­lit­i­cal con­se­quences: In which way has the war shift­ed the strate­gic posi­tion of coun­tries such as Turkey, India, Poland and Hun­gary? What new geopo­lit­i­cal align­ments and alliances between soft author­i­tar­i­an and author­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ments can be observed? And which crit­i­cal insights can we gain by scru­ti­niz­ing the dis­cur­sive oppo­si­tion between author­i­tar­i­an­ism and democ­ra­cy fierce­ly enforced by some West­ern actors from a post­colo­nial per­spec­tive? On the oth­er hand, the pan­elists will exem­plar­i­ly exam­ine the domes­tic con­se­quences of these geopo­lit­i­cal shifts: How does the war affect soft author­i­tar­i­an agen­das in Hun­gary, India or Turkey? Do the inten­si­fied geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions offer new oppor­tu­ni­ties to push for­ward rightwing poli­cies, the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of pub­lic life or the pro­mo­tion of hate speech in polit­i­cal dis­course? Or might new align­ments and risks on the inter­na­tion­al lev­el in some cas­es rather slow down the author­i­tar­i­an transformation?

Evren Bal­ta (Özyeğin Uni­ver­si­ty)
Ran­abir Samad­dar (Cal­cut­ta Research Group)
Rena­ta Uitz (Cen­tral Euro­pean University)

Shali­ni Ran­de­ria (Cen­tral Euro­pean Uni­ver­si­ty & U Bre­men Excel­lence Chair)

To reg­is­ter send a mail to yisares(at)uni-bremen(dot)de or join our Youtube livestream!