Demographic Imaginaries: Soft Authoritarianism, Majoritarian Identity Politics and Demographic Anxieties (YISARES 2024)
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.
The Summer School
The six-day Summer School offers participants an outstanding learning environment with an international faculty of renowned scholars in their respective fields. The intensive interdisciplinary program is composed of five thematic modules and a range of pedagogical formats including keynote lectures and panel discussions, interactive workshop sessions as well as an Academia-meets-Activism event. It also includes group sessions which give participants the opportunity to present and closely discuss their own research interests and projects in a supportive environment and receive feedback from their peers and faculty members. The program aims to enhance the participants’ critical engagement with a variety of cutting-edge approaches and fostering lasting collaborative international exchange among students and scholars from the Global South and North.
Payal Arora Professor of Inclusive AI Cultures in the Department of Media Culture Studies at Utrecht University, Co-Founder, FemLab (Feminist Futures of Work)
Mukulika Banerjee Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science
Zsolt Enyedi Professor at the Democracy Institute at CEU, Budapest
Ulrike Flader Senior Researcher in the RG Soft Authoritarianisms at the University of Bremen and Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research
Eva Fodor Professor of Gender Studies at the Central European University
Nurhak Polat Associated Fellow of the RG Soft Authoritarianisms and Senior Researcher at the University of Bremen
Lipin Ram Postdoc Researcher in the RG Soft Authoritarianisms at the University of Bremen
Shalini Randeria Rector and President of the Central European University in Vienna and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology
Seda Saluk Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan
Joachim Scharloth Professor of German Sudies at Waseda University, Tokyo
Hagen Steinhauer Doctoral Researcher at the RG Soft Authoritarianisms at the University of Bremen
Ingo H. Warnke Professor of German and Interdisciplinary Linguistics at the University of Bremen
Tyler Zoanni Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bremen
This Summer School is jointly organized by the Research Group “Soft Authoritarianisms” and the Collaborative Research Platform “Worlds of Contradictions” of the University of Bremen, the Central European University’s Summer University (CEU SUN) and the Research Training Group Contradiction Studies. It is funded by the Open Society University Network (OSUN), CEU SUN, and the University of Bremen.
Find all relevant information here: yisares.uni-bremen.de