Between the 16th and 21st of May, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin hosted the conference „Contesting Authoritarianism: Perspectives from the South“, as part of the research conducted by the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counterstrategies (IRGAC).
During one week, the event gathered scholars, activists, students, journalists, and all those interested in the various manifestations of authoritarian neoliberalism, reactionary populism, and strategies of resistance. In various formats like panel discussions, workshops, film screenings, performances, etc., scholars and activists from Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia shed light on different aspects of authoritarian ideologies, movements, and governments, and discuss emancipatory alternatives.
Here, you can find video recording of some of the panels, roundtables and interesting discussions that took place during the event, with short summaries, produced by IRGAC fellows.
The Crisis of Civilization and the Authoritarian Turn
„From the perspective of the Global South, the current global rise of authoritarianism is hardly a momentous break but a much more continuous process. However, what is new is that authoritarianism seems to have left the Southern bubble encroaching on the Global North. But why do new forms of authoritarianism emerge so suddenly and simultaneously all around the world? With its unparalleled global hegemony, neoliberal capitalism is naturally one of the first culprits when trying to explain this global authoritarian turn. However, how and why these new authoritarianisms emerge from neoliberal capitalism is fiercely contested. This is the subject of this conference panel“ – Read the full résumé, written by Aurel Eschmann here
With: Alex Demirovic (Institut für Gesellschaftsanalyse, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Berlin), Zeynep Gambetti (Independent Scholar, Political Theorist, Affiliated with Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey), Hugo Fanton (Brazilian Activist and Collaborating Professor in Political Science at the University of São Paulo, IRGAC), Börries Nehe (Coordinator of the International Research Group on Authoritarianism & Counterstrategies, IRGAC)
Alternative Democracies / Alternatives to Democracy
„We are witnessing a crisis of civilization accompanied by a global authoritarian turn. However, this crisis is often reduced to a purely political crisis, designated with the recurrent epithet of „crisis of democracy“. This framing of the questions does not allow seeing what is really at stake in the relation between democracy and capitalism, and which are the possibilities to construct alternative forms of organization in-and-beyond democracy in the current scenario. These two concerns were addressed in the panel “Alternative to democracies / alternative democracies” Read the full résumé, written by Gustavo Robles here
With: Azize Aslan (Kurdish Sociologist and Researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico), Inés Durán Matute (Activist and Researcher at the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, IRGAC), Katia Valenzuela Fuentes (Activist and Researcher at the University of Concepción and at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development – CEDEUS, Chile). Moderation: Dario Farcy (Activist in the Recovery Factories Movement, Argentina – Bloque Latinoamericano, Berlin)
Infringement of academic freedoms and counter-strategies
„When fragility also crosses us, when state violence knocks on our doors or when we academics are the people persecuted or exiled, everything takes on a different meaning in our lives and work. It is we who are part of the object of study, it is we who are activists, it is we who suffer discrimination, it is we who are exiled. It is us, and this closeness to suffering, to injustice, to exclusion and the violation of our rights often removes our blinders and opens up ways for us to look at the world again. We can now look again, and we can now take the floor from this other place“. Read the full résumé, written by Julieta Mira here
With: Arshi Javid (Gender and Media Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin / Kashmir), Tatiana Levina (Academy in Exile Fellow and Researcher at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut, Essen, Germany), Tomasz Kitlinski (Margherita-von-Brentano-Zentrum, Freie Universität, Berlin – Academy in Exile- IIE-SRF/ Poland), Achim Rohde (Researcher at Freie Universität Berlin – Academy in Exile, Germany), Ülker Sözen (Sociologist at Alice Salomon Hochschule, Berlin / Turkey, IRGAC)
Anti-gender politics: religious fundamentalism and political neoconservatism
„Two major factors contributing to the current development and consolidation of anti-feminist discourses and policies are the rise of the political right and the spread of neo-conservative religious ideas. Both factors are deeply related to the global wave of authoritarianism. The #CAPS22 conference systematically addressed how these conservative ideas are taking shape as well as their interconnection with anti-feminism, and the panel “Anti-gender politics: religious fundamentalism and political neoconservatism” in specific analyzed these issues in-depth“. Read the full résumé, written by Ailynn Torres here
With: Ailynn Torres Santana (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Ecuador, IRGAC), Sonia Correa (Sexuality Policy Watch, Brazil), Ewa Majewska (Feminist Philosopher and Activist, Independent Scholar, Warsaw, Poland), Funda Hülagü (Independent Scholar, Adjunct Lecturer at the Philipps University of Marburg, Germany). Moderation: Andrea Dip (Investigative Journalist, Brazil, IRGAC)
Housing Crisis in a time of Democratic Backsliding
„Part of the challenge of properly grasping authoritarianism is to avoid the kind of homogenous perception given to through history. One often thinks of an authoritarian regime or an authoritarian state, but it is also important to identify practices that co-exist with progressive social policies and other liberties too. Authoritarian phenomena are not problematic only when they are entrenched within a mode of governing, but also when they target groups and communities while providing rights and privileges to others. By looking into housing status, entitlements, infrastructure and policies, the panel “Housing crisis in a time of democratic backsliding” provided an analysis that helps to explain social contradictions and what kind of political action is possible by people excluded and/or repressed given authoritarian spatial dynamics in a society“. Read the full résumé, written by Sabrina Fernandes here
With: Mariana Morais (Researcher at the Humboldt University-Berlin / Right to the City, Berlin), Natalie Koch (Professor at Syracuse University, New York, USA, IASS-Potsdam Visiting Fellow), Lorena Zarate (Global Platform for the Right to the City -GPR2C-, Argentina/Mexico/Canada). Moderation: Aysegul Can (Researcher at the Istanbul Medeniyet University, Turkey, IRGAC)
Capitalist anti-ecologies and authoritarianism in the Global South (II)
This conversation deals with the environmental collapse connected to capitalist development in the Global South and how authoritarian practices are used to advance these interests. The dynamics of development and underdevelopment have pushed entire regions in the Global South into sacrifice zones, where communities suffer from mega-projects, militarism, and a rhetoric that treats them as obstacles to progress. Developmentalism and Extractivism are seen as main motors for these economies and it often comes with territorial dispossession, direct violence against indigenous and peasant communities, and is connected to a stream of international deals where multinational corporations and states collaborate to access resources in a global commodity chain. The standard practices connected to this process are deep into environmental racism, involve the use of force (state or paramilitary) as well as political and military interventions from foreign states.
With: Sabrina Fernandes (Ecosocialist Communicator and Researcher at the University of Brasilia, Brasil, IRGAC), Markus Wissen (Fellow at the Institute for Critical Social Analysis, Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation, Germany), Erika Mendes (Environmental and Social Activist, Justicia Ambiental, Mozambique). Moderation: Boaventura Monjane (Activist and Researcher at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, IRGAC
The Power of Music and Counterculture: A Focus on Counter-strategies and Resistance Through Sound
This roundtable discussion highlight how musical production and performance channels political dissent and anti-authoritarian struggles. It also emphasizes and underscores the varied efforts of migrant exile and diasporic communities from the global south at the forefront of counterculture and how they challenge many mainstream conservative norms, including right-wing discourses that emphasize neoliberal, capitalist, and fascist undertones. Also addressed the power of music and resistance through sound and political lyrics for social and political mobilization, transitional and inter-cultural dialogue, and emancipation in the Global South and beyond.
With: Mo’min Swaitat (Palestinian Researcher and Filmmaker based in London), Diana Abbani (Writer, Historian & Research Associate at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin), Enana (Syrian Rapper based in Berlin), Muhammad Jabali (AI.Berlin). Moderation: Himmat Zoubi (Forum Transregionale Studien/EUME, IRGAC)
Roundtable: Beyond Authoritarianism. Counterstrategies, Solidarities, Utopia
„In this conversation, the panelists tackled questions on authoritarianism as experienced and struggled against in their respective contexts. Specifically, they talked about the counterstrategies they find significant to defend rights and how to respond to people’s anger, resentment and anxiety that has been capitalized by the far-right, that has engendered the different faces of authoritarianism we see in the world today“. Read the full résumé, written by Verna Dinah Q. Viajar here
With: Eva von Redecker (Philosopher, Researcher and Writer, Germany), Harsh Mander (Author and Activist; Robert Bosch Academy Fellow & Centre for Equity Studies, India), Sabrina Fernandes (Ecosocialist Communicator and Researcher at the University of Brasilia, Brasil, IRGAC), Damir Arsenijevic (Author, Activist and Psychoanalyst at the University of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Yunyun Zhou (Feminist Researcher at the University of Oslo, Norway/ China). Moderation: Börries Nehe (Coordinator of the International Research Group on Authoritarianism & Counterstrategies, IRGAC)
Labour policies and worker’s struggles in authoritarian contexts | CAPS22
„The long-standing capitalist crisis and the recent pandemic have created a context favoring increasing authoritarian rule. Hegemonic powers use “the crisis” as an excuse to increase repression against labor demands and mobilizations. This is done in several ways, either by restricting protests on ‘sanitary’ excuses or by signaling some forms of labor ‘essential’ and thus not protected by the right to strike. In some places, these restrictions are subtle -for example, in Germany- while in other places -such as the UK or the Philippines- workers are framed as ‘disturbing the peace’ and thus red-tagged as ‘communist’ or just ‘agitators’. The idea of democratic rule appears more than ever, just a word for the political domination of capital over society“. „In this conversation, the panelists tackled questions on authoritarianism as experienced and struggled against in their respective contexts. Specifically, they talked about the counterstrategies they find significant to defend rights and how to respond to people’s anger, resentment and anxiety that has been capitalized by the far-right, that has engendered the different faces of authoritarianism we see in the world today“. Read the full résumé, written by Mariano Féliz here
With: Alexander Gallas (Assistant Professor at the University of Kassel, Germany), Verna Viajar (Activist and Researcher at the University of the Philippines, IRGAC), Dario Azzellini (Activist and Researcher at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico), Julia Dück (Fellow for Social Infrastructure and Connective Class Politics, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Berlin) and moderation by Mariano Féliz
Media Practices as Acts of Resistance within Authoritarian Terrains
Various media forms play a constitutive role in shaping the habitats that we live in. In the case of authoritarian contexts, this constitutive role of diverse media forms in shaping the contours of life worlds can open up possibilities to configure resisting practices and narratives. The round table focus on the scope for such possibilities by using examples from Myanmar, India and Thailand. How can specific media practices disrupt the perceived consensus around authoritarian narratives and forms of rule? How do media practitioners and journalists create spaces of resistance in diverse authoritarian contexts? These are some of the questions that the round table addresses by drawing from varied experiences including that of filmmakers from Myanmar as well as journalists in Thailand and leftist and left leaning grass roots film screening initiatives from India
With: Fathima Nizaruddin (Researcher & Documentary Filmmaker, India, IRGAC), Praphakorn Lippert (Researcher at the University of Passau, Germany), Nwet Kay Khine (Researcher at the University of Passau, Germany / Myanmar, IRGAC) and moderation by Aurel Eschmann
Queer-feminist strategies and transnational solidarity against gender-based violence
Queer and feminist organizations are prominent actors in the struggles against authoritarian regimes and movements across the world. The activism of women and LGBTQ+ against gender-based violence is accompanied by a commitment to social justice in many countries, which confronts neoliberalism, racism, colonialism, and militarization. By adopting an intersectional perspective, they address inter-connected multiple regimes of inequality, oppression, and dispossession. Due to their discursive interventions and on-ground strategies, queer and feminist politics prove to be highly influential and instructive for other counter-movements and critical academic perspectives at a global scale. Read the full résumé, written by Ülker Sözen here
With: Javiera Manzi (Sociologist and Feminist Activist, Coordinadora Feminista 8M, Chile), Magdo
Chuchracka (Queer Activist, Academic and Performer from Eastern Europe, Co-liberation Berlin, POPBACK Project, Goethe University, Frankfurt) and moderation by Jana Flörchinger (Sociologist, Freelance Curator and Feminist Activist, Berlin) and Susanne Hentschel (Activist and Political Scientist, Berlin)
Ideological dimensions of the authoritarian Neoliberalism: Labour & Life
With: Michael Hirsch (Political Scientist, Philosopher, Writer & Researcher at the University of Siegen, Germany), Fabio Franco (Psychoanalyst, Activist and Researcher at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, IRGAC), Flora Partenio (DAWN Feminist, Argentina) and moderation by Gustavo Robles (Independent Scholar, Argentina, IRGAC)