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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Together with Mónica Brito Vieira (York), Sean W. D. Gray (Harvard), and Toby Rollo (Lakehead, Canada), I published a Critical Exchange in the journal Contemporary Political Theory titled

The Nature of Silence and Its Democratic Possibilities

It consists of four contributions and an introduction.

  • Silence as a Mode of Political Communication: Negotiating Expectations – Theo Jung.
  • Interpreting Silence: A Note of Caution – Sean W.D. Gray.
  • Two Political Ontologies and Three Models of Silence: Voice, Signal, and Action – Toby Rollo.
  • Silent Agency – Mónica Brito Vieira.

A pre-publication online version of the text can be read here, the published version here.

The Critical Exchange proposes a reconsideration of the multifarious forms and functions of silence in the political field, which cannot be reduced to the effects of silencing or of secrecy alone, but also encompass silent resistance, denial and a multitude of performative practices constitutive of individual or group identities.

My own contribution concerns the current state of research into political silences and some of its weaknesses. It proposes a re-orientation focused on the role of expectations, starting from the premise that communicative silence functions as the expressive omission of an expected signal.

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Julian Scott: Empire of Silence, Swiss Expo 2002.

Many thanks to my co-contributors, but especially to Mónica for inviting us to York and for organizing this publication.

As a group, we are working on another special issue on this topic, currently under review at the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

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Since my time in London at the German Historical Institute is slowly coming to an end, I’m starting to prepare for my teaching in the summer term in Freiburg. This time, I am offering two courses on different aspects of political history.

Politics from Below: Forms of Participation Beyond the Institutions (France and Britain, 1780-1914)

This seminar course deals with groups that remained excluded from the ‘authoritative’ political institutions (like women, workers, political fringe groups). It asks what strategies were available to them to participate in the political process nonetheless. The course also tries to determine the amount of success these different strategies could have, taking into account both the reactions of the wider public and establishment ‘countermeasures’.

Against Mob Rule and Government by Gabble: Left- and Right-Wing Criticism of Democracy in France and Germany (1870-1933)

In this reading course, we will look into the various traditions of French and German criticism of democracy before its collapse in the twentieth century. Considering the spectrum of anti-democratic positions at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century from a double comparative perspective will allow us to better evaluate the nature and context of what is often reductively interpreted as a specifically German tradition of right-wing ‘forerunners to Hitler’.

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