Paris, 1-2 December 2016.
Submission Deadline: 15 June 2016.
The Centre for International Studies (CERI) at Sciences Po, together with the Consortium of European Symposia on Turkey (CEST), is delighted to invite paper submissions for a Symposium to be held from December 1-2, 2016 at Sciences Po in Paris, France.
The Symposium on Politics from Below in Turkey and beyond seeks to identify and discuss, in comparative perspective, the dynamics, effects and modes of “politics from below”. We use the broad wording “politics from below” in a heuristic fashion, in order to question classical definitions of the “political”. This framing aims to suggest different understandings of politics. Political science on Turkey and the wider region has long been dominated by top-down and macro approaches, addressing mainly national institutions, political leaders, public discourses and legislative productions.
However, sociology has shown that taking in account the implementation of policies by lower administrators, as well as their reception by citizens, challenges common perceptions of political processes. Anthropology has widely challenged the institutional and formal definitions of politics. Gender studies, as well as subaltern studies, have called for broader conceptions of politics. New conceptualizations have been proposed, like “infrapolitics” (Scott), “politique par le bas” (Bayart, Mbembe, Toulador), “vernacular politics” (White) or “low politics” (Bayart). Constructionist approaches have addressed the question from yet another perspective, suggesting that there is nothing “essentially” political, and that “the political”, on the contrary, is constructed and contested.
The aim of this symposium is to open up the very definition of “politics” and discuss multiple social practices whose “political” dimension is at stake. Approaching politics from below encourages us to question the shifting borders and conceptualizations of politics. The symposium therefore encourages several pathways: firstly, to get away from event-driven and institutional analyses of politics by giving more attention to the everyday and the ordinary; secondly, to analyze the multiple social uses of institutions and devices in general; thirdly, to account for a wider range of actors (not only “professional” politicians but also citizens, consumers, residents, lower bureaucrats or activists, street-corner shopkeepers, hackers, etc.) and a wider range of practices (registration, consumption, migration, gossip and denunciation, but also aesthetics, etc.).
How does taking in account politics from below challenge our understanding of power dynamics? “Politics from below” is easily equated with resistance, subversion or autonomy – especially in times of growing authoritarianism. However, politics from below does not necessarily mean contestation, and may as well consolidate domination. Do larger transformations impact politics from below? For instance, does growing authoritarianism lead to the politicization of social phenomena or to the contrary to depoliticization dynamics – may be both at the same time? Does neoliberalism impact ways of doing politics, for example fuel the informalization of politics? How does this dimension challenge our understanding of power dynamics in contemporary Turkey and beyond?
Abstract submissions should engage with one or several of the following themes:
- Politics from below. A critical assessment
Which are the main conceptual debates on politics from below? What is the explanatory and heuristic power of concepts such as “infrapolitics”, “low politics”, “politique par le bas”, “vernacular politics”, etc.? Is politics from below a mere residue or does is challenge core meanings of power dynamics?
- Informal politics
How is politics entangled in presumably non-political phenomena (personal networks, solidarity ties)? How does taking in account those dimensions alter our understanding of politics? To what extent do visible politics (party politics, state policies, etc.) rely on such informal networks and to what extent are they autonomous from them?
- Transactions and negotiations
How are public but also organizational (party, NGO, etc.) policies implemented in practice? How can we analyze the multiple social uses of institutions and public policies? To what extent does a look at street-level bureaucrats or activists change our understanding of policies or politics? Which kinds of negotiations and transactions do institutional and formal policies give birth to? To what extent do these negotiations change the meaning of those initiatives?
- Challenging the borders of the political. Politicization and depoliticization in practice
Which (new) areas are contested as a political domain – for example as spheres of public policy and contest? Do political cleavages get into new spheres of practice (economy, professional organizations, education, lifestyle, reproduction)? How do different actors reframe issues or actions as being political or not? How does the label of “political” impact the legitimacy of issues, actors or initiatives?
- Contestation and the consolidation of hegemony.
What are the effects of these forms of politics from below – do they fuel resistance, accommodation or consolidate domination? How to assess the subversive dimension of politics from below?
We welcome applications from all fields related to the study of society and politics, with a particular interest in comparative work. We would also like to stress our interest in historical studies and a critical debate on the conclusions, which can be drawn from those historical cases for our understanding of politics from below today. Our regional emphasis is on Turkey and its region, but we welcome comparative or conceptual work from other world regions, as long as it promises valuable insights for our regional angle.
Applicants are invited to submit:
- an abstract of max. 300 words,
- a CV of max. 300 words,
- a full CV (table form) with publications if applicable.
The submission deadline is 15 June 2016. Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered.
Convenor: Elise Massicard
Who can apply: PhD Students, Post-Docs and academics. Advanced Master students may apply, if their proposal is based on fresh empirical work.
Submission deadline: 15 June 2016
Submission requirements: 300 word abstract, 300 word CV, publication list.
Submission mailbox: CESTSymposium@gmail.com
Expenses: Accommodation for two nights and travel expenses will be reimbursed. Travel expenses will be reimbursed according to the country of your institution, i.e. for Europe (incl. Turkey) up to 300 Euro.
Submission of papers: Draft papers will have to be submitted by mid-October.
Publication: We will support the publication of the best papers.
Successful applicants will be informed mid-July 2016.
Please consult Dr. Elise Massicard for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Symposium is convened as part of the Consortium for European Symposia on Turkey (CEST) which is funded by Stiftung Mercator. CEST is committed to the study of modern Turkey by bringing together the expertise of leading European research institutions: Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, London School of Economics, SciencesPo Paris, Stockholm University, Universität Hamburg, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Leiden University, Network Turkey.