Sum­mer School

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.

Fac­ul­ty Members

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

The Orga­niz­ers

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.

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