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


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.


Hagen SoftAuthoritarianisms