Metapolitics and Metapolitical Discourse: conceptual and empirical investigations into populism and (anti-) democracy

Registration deadline

As traditional democratic procedures and institutions are coming under increasing pressure in a context marked by highly mediatized cultural, political and economic crises, the notion of democratic politics itself faces challenges from the left, the right and the radical centre. Metapolitical projects on different sides of the political spectrum are gaining support and attention. At stake is a potential restructuration the public sphere itself.
Metapolitics is a label for those modes of politics that seek to change established modes of political practice, both in democratic and anti-democratic ways. The question to be asked is if, how or to what extent contemporary metapolitical projects across the political spectrum present democratic or anti-democratic political fantasies. We will consider as metapolitical any project that aims to re-structure the face of the public realm as well as its institutional and discursive constituents and the associated modes of politics. This means that we distance ourselves from the New Right who has claimed this notion in order to designates its anti-egalitarian political strategy and goals.
We welcome contributions that reflect on the notion of metapolitics and/or metapolitical discourse and offer concrete analyses of specific metapolitical projects. Contributions from the fields of ethnography, communication sciences, sociology, political science and discourse studies are all welcome. Potential subjects to be addressed include, but are not limited to:

• Online and offline tactics for pursuing metapolitical agendas (e.g. political use of trolling, blogging, shit-posting)
• The political discourses, logics and rationalities of right and left wing populist projects and fantasies.
• Participatory experiments and the search for new modes of democratic politics on the left.
• ‘De-politicizing’ or ‘post-political’, neoliberal, bureaucratic and/or technocratic projects in the radical centre.
• Emerging forms of governmentality linked to new metapolitical projects.
• Modes of citizenship and politics articulated across different media formats.
• Metapolitical effects of transformations in the public realm and in the media-system.
• Discourses on democracy in relation to (social) security, immigration, work, privacy, corruption and asylum articulated across media.
• …

Within the discourse of the New Right, metapolitics refers ironically to the pursuit of a Gramscian cultural hegemony. The idea that metapolitics is about politicization also appears on the left in the work of Alain Badiou who wrote in favour of philosophy as a metapolitics that does not hide behind the veil of ideological neutrality. Moreover, Jacques Rancière used the term in reference to those philosophies that misrepresent the nature of politics by positing something more essential outside of it (e.g. class struggle in Marxian metapolitics). Our use of the term is at once broader and more specific than these approaches.
We welcome contributions from any theoretical, methodological or disciplinary background, but we would ask that contributors reflect explicitly on the potentially problematic use of the notions ‘metapolitics’ and/or ‘metapolitical discourse’ in discourse studies and in the social sciences at large. The goal of this symposium is to explore the potential of a broad notion of metapolitics for understanding contemporary attempts to reconfigure the face of the public sphere.
Keynote speaker will be Massimiliano Capra Casadio who will talk about The genesis and use of the concept of metapolitics in the French New Right.

This symposium is being organized by Jan Zienkowski and Ruth Breeze as part of the Spanish MINECO project FFI2015¬65252¬R titled ‘El “demos” en el imaginario de la nueva politica: el debate sobre la voluntad popular en el discurso público en Europa’.

University of Navarra
Institute for Culture and Society (ICS)
Contact person
Jan Zienkowski