THE CRISIS OF REPRESENTATION. NEOLIBERALISM, ETHNONATIONALISM, RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVISM AND THE CRISIS OF REPRESENTATION IN POLITICS, RELIGION AND CULTURE – AN INTERDISCIPLINARY CONFERENCE

Florian Nährer - Civitas Dei 20

The year 2016 was one of what the noted economist and social theorist Nassim Taleb called “black swan” events in the realm of politics. As the British magazine The Economist noted on December 2, 2016, “a populist, nationalist wave is sweeping the West. It has to do with the economic crisis, globalisation, automation, immigration, stagnant wages, social media and a less deferential culture; albeit in drastically varying proportions in different countries. Each instance of this shift spurs on the next.” This nationalist wave, however, runs deeper than mere politics and cannot be so easily dismissed, as many progressive pundits are wont to proclaim, simply as the dark fruition of entrenched “racism” or “xenophobia”, which prove to be more symptoms than causes. Such trends are the consequence of the rapidly fragmenting global neoliberal order, stemming from what might be regarded (following the lead of Michel Foucault) a “crisis of representation.” The crisis is not only political and economic, but cultural, esthetic and religious as well. Thus a serious inquiry into this complex and multidimensional phenomenon requires an interdisciplinary approach.

The conference will address the following questions:

1.      What are the forces driving the accelerating growth and spread of nationalism, especially what the magazine The Economist has recently termed “ethno-nationalism”, in the Western world?

2.      Which forgotten or veiled religious dimensions become visible in this context? Are they institutional, symbolic, political?

3.      In what respects is the crisis of representation also a crisis of neoliberalism?

4.      What are the causal as well as operative relationships between these developments and the changing role of religion (and religious symbolic orders) and cultural values in these societies as well as attendant economic, political and religious tensions that provide the appropriate context for their analysis?

5.      To what extent does religious conservativism interact with the above mentioned types of crisis?

6.      To what degree is the expression “crisis of representation” in the postmodern world the controlling variable for a sustained, interdisciplinary investigation of the aforementioned trends and historical factors?

 

Time:10-18 on June 26 and 10-13 on June 27

Location: Stift Melk, Abt-Berthold-Dietmayr-Straße 1, 3390 Melk