Skip to main content

SKAPE: Research


Politics multiple

Politics multiple
Speaker: Jan-Peter Voss # University of Berlin
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
26th Jul 2017 12:00 - 26th Jul 2017 14:00
Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building

Looking at the social sciences after the “cultural turn” we may get the impression that politics is everywhere. As soon as we acknowledge that every bit of reality is not necessarily and essentially what it is, but that it has been made and is being done so, we must also acknowledge that it could be otherwise. As every bit of reality is part of collectively lived orders, it may be rendered political. It can be questioned for presuppositions and values that it purports, for concerns and interests that it excludes, and for its contribution to ‘the public good’. If bits of reality remain unquestioned, it may count as complicity: just another form of politics. Living a straight life as much as living a queer life, shopping with IKEA as much as collecting jumble, taking the plane as much as riding a bike… all that is politics. Politics simply is living one life at the expense of all possible others. Is that what we are left with?

The seminar will discuss the broadening notion of politics and attempt a re-differentiation. The ambition is not to propose an essentialist definition of politics and its subcategories. The approach rather is to specify various particular ways in which politics is being known and done (performed, practiced). This multiplicity is the late modern reality of politics. We may go further and ask what difference it makes to know politics in one way or another, and how different ways of knowing and doing politics play together. For example: Which types of agency are brought forward by different ways of knowing politics? This may be called a ‘pragmatist-performative turn’ on Karl Mannheim’s sociology of political  knowledge from the 1920s. The seminar opens up into a discussion of the performative effects of various ways of knowing politics. As part of this I may come to defend my own favorite notion of politics: the making and contesting of performative ‘representative claims’ over collective subjectivities.