University of Manchester
Politics Poststructural and Critical Thought Cluster
The Call to Community: Poststructural Thought and Political Alternatives
17th September 2013
During the last decade we have witnessed increasingly tumultuous debates over the meaning of community within Western European societies and beyond. Traditional understandings of community as a homogenous ethno-cultural space are simultaneously being challenged and fortified within the ongoing public discourse. In the UK, political leaders have sought to redefine community in terms of legal and cultural belonging and responsible citizenship through the ‘Big Society’ initiative. And while this remains ill-defined and largely unadopted, it continues to circulate alongside wider public discourses that endeavour to draw up new boundaries of community which variously exclude Europe, immigrants, welfare claimants, Muslims, the gay community and others.
In spite of the increasing importance attached to questions of community, poststructuralist thought has been largely absent from public debate. The purpose of this workshop, therefore, is to ask questions about the relationship between poststructuralism and community, and primarily the question of how ‑ if at all ‑ poststructuralism should try to engage in wider public discourses. If Robert Cox’s axiom of changing the world remains an important facet of critical motivations, then, as a community of academics, we need to begin a serious discussion on how our ideas can be communicated beyond the academy. For if poststructuralism remains unvocal in terms of clearly disseminable political alternatives, then such thought remains fundamentally exclusionary.
Our Keynote Speaker, Angharad Closs Stephens (University of Durham), will give a talk on: