Department of Culture and Learning

Dissent! - Histories and Meanings of Opposition from 1968 to the Present

Histories and Meanings of Opposition from 1968 to the Present

January 16-17, 2014

A conference of the Research Group in International Studies.

Globalization, post-9/11 politics and the post-2008 financial crisis have all birthed modes and histories of opposition and dissent, be they dissent from global political-economic systems or opposition to ranges of international authoritarian regimes. Contemporary dissent, however, oft-draws from forms and imaginations of earlier modes of protest, be they student protests from the late ‘60s onward, the peace movement in the same period, the anti-nukes movement of the 1980s or the anti-Apartheid movement spanning the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Still, dissent takes other historical forms: individual critiques of “actually existing” socialist systems, be they civil rights based critique from individual figures such as Sakharov or Rostropovich (or Solzhenitsyn’s nationalist-culturalism), media-driven dissent, such as the political magazine Mladina’s criticisms of the Yugoslav regime in the late 1980s and early 1990s or the voices of “everyday” social actors, such as the Damas de Blanco in Cuba. In a historical period encapsulating the last decades of the Cold War and an unfolding twenty-first century, dissent and social opposition undergo and have undergone redefinition within the confines of modern and contemporary culture.

Dissent!: Histories and Meanings of Opposition from 1968 to the Present addresses these issues with history and theory in dialogue. The conference seeks to reveal dissent in its ideological, social and political diversity. The conference seeks to comprehend dissent as “owned” not by one counter-cultural or ideological position, but via broad pastiches of global movements and ideas. The conference seeks to address socio-political opposition as contextually responsive and historically diverse. Moreover, Dissent! seeks to examine dissidence in a period where late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries do not necessarily “break” (typically around 1989), but rather provide genealogies of acts warranting comparison, narrativization, theorization and representation under the heading of “social and political opposition.”

The conference thus calls for papers falling within the following areas:

  • Histories of dissident acts or movements from 1968 to the present
  • New theorizations of dissent and socio-political opposition in fields such as political philosophy, political theory and history of ideas
  • Representations of dissent from 1968 to the present, and discussion of their historical context
  • Genealogies of dissident and oppositional socio-political movements from 1968 to the present
  • Dissent and ideology; what are and have been dissenting political positions in recent history (since ’68) and in what contexts?
  • The emergence of dissent on the global social and political agenda and the introduction of new issues making dissent possible
  • The aesthetics of dissent and its social, cultural and political visibility
  • Education and dissent: what challenges are posed teaching either histories or theories of dissent in institutions of higher education?

All inquiries and abstracts should be sent to either Oscar Garcia Agustín, Ben Dorfman, Laura Bang Lindegaard or Sandro Nickel.

Please download the programme here

Planned keynotes 

Barbara Falk

International studies scholar, Canadian Forces College, author of, among other works, The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe: Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher-Kings.

Dr. Falk’s areas of research and teaching specialization include political philosophy; theories and practices of dissent; Cold War history; the politicization of justice; theories of war and terrorism; post-9/11 debates on international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict; comparative security and terrorism law; contemporary public policy in Canada, the United States, and Central and Eastern Europe; paradigms of transitional justice; and debates regarding globalization and global governance. In 2004 she was awarded a Canada Council grant for the research and writing of her second book, which will compare postwar political trials across the East-West divide, as well as examine the post-9/11 world as a twenty-first century cultural and political “Cold War.” In 2008, she published a monograph entitled “Making Sense of Political Trials: Causes and Categories” in the Controversies in Global Politics and Societies series of the Munk Centre for International Studies. 

Andrea Fumagalli 

Andrea Fumagalli is Associate Professor of economics in the Department of Economics and management, at University of Pavia. He is member of UniNomade Network, founder member of Bin-Italy (Basic Income Network, Italy) and of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network). He is active in the San Precario network. Among his recent publications, see Bioeconomics and Cognitive Capitalism: towards a new accumulation paradigm, Carocci, Roma, 2007; The crisis of the Global Economy. Financial markets, social struggles and new political scenarios, Semiotext(e), Mit Press, 2010 (with S.Mezzadra); “Life put to work: towards a theory of life-value”, in Ephemera, vol. 10, p. 234-252, (with C. Morini); “Cognitive Biocapitalism, the Precarity Trap, and Basic Income” in Post-crisis perspectives, Peter Lang, 2013.




Conference coordinator Ben Dorfman