Call for Papers
“The Politics of Alain Badiou”
A Special Issue of Politics and Culture
Edited by Andrew Pendakis (University of Alberta) and Tim Kaposy (Niagara College)
Among the active French philosophers of the last quarter century Alain Badiou is virtually alone in his almost classical insistence on politics as a specific, autonomous domain of thought and action. This is a distinction at least as old as John Locke's separation of political power from that exercised by the patriarch of a family, but one also insisted upon by both Plato and Aristotle, albeit in the conception of statecraft as a unique form of expertise. The latter half of the twentieth century saw a dramatic turn away from these coordinates. Michel Foucault's submersion of politics into the vast humus of social practice and knowledge, the tendency within cultural studies to collapse the distance between politics and reading (or watching), the Levinasian turn to ethics in an age ostensibly finished with the hardness and inflexibility of the world-historical project: all of this is refused by Badiou for a conception of politics as specified exception to the everyday, but also, as a procedure categorically distinguishable from philosophy, art and literature (but also science and sociology for that matter).
However, this re-inscription of the distinctness of politics is nothing like a return to the classical matrix of political philosophy. Politics, for Badiou, in no way resembles what passes for its own name in the common sense of today’s liberal democracies: communicative reason, parliamentary debate, and electoral activity are largely dismissed, and with them as well an older revolutionary imaginary linked to the social completion of justice in an optimally administered system or society. Badiouian politics unfold in the here and now of a universal affirmation, a declaration of destabilizing sameness, one which radically breaks with the structured normalcy of the prevailing situation and sets into motion an immense shifting of relations and parts.
Badiou's work is certainly one of the most interesting, coherent, and rigorous philosophical projects of the twentieth century. If—from Cairo to London, Caracas to New York—we are witnessing a return globally to protest, dissent, and organized, extra-parliamentary opposition, and if this return threatens to puncture the relative quiescence and political common sense of the Nineties, if, in other words, we are witnessing a return to "politics itself", we need to think closely alongside one of the few thinkers of his generation for whom the latter never ceased to function as an engrossing, if not temporarily occluded possibility. We are only beginning to discern the resonances between Badiou and what appears to be a new time of political rupture and change. This issue of Politics and Culture hopes to explore these resonances.
The core of the issue will be built around a dialogue with Bruno Bosteels’s recent book Badiou and Politics (Duke U.P, 2011) and Peter Hallward’s essay “The Politics of Prescription” (South Atlantic Quarterly, 2005). Bosteels and Hallward will contribute to the issue.
We would like to invite further submissions exploring the politics of Badiou and ranging across (but not confined to) the following issues:
-the relationship between Badiou's politics and his philosophical antecedents
-explorations into the political sites or moments, movements and figures which structurally drive or shadow his work
-linkages between Occupy Wall Street and Badiou. If "We are the 99%" can be seen as a paradigmatic instance of Badiou's emphasis on clear, “groundless” axioms, there is also a way in which its inherent reliance on a contentious sociological fact—the political economy of global wealth distribution —would appear to rest on precisely the kind of analysis his work seems to proscribe.
-can books be events? what is the status of the text in Badiou's work.
-Badiou and dialectical or historical materialism
-the usefulness, limits, and possibilities of Badiou's conception of truth and specifically its contentious origins in the grace of an aleatory, unpredictable event, or: how do things stand between systems and events in Badiou's work?
-Badiou's anti- or post-liberalism; his critique of the coordinates of classical liberal philosophy. Is a rights-based discourse compatible with Badiouian axiomatics?
-the fate of programs, plans, and projects in Badiou.
-the role of the axiom in Badiou's work. To what extent is every truth always already an interpretation, rather than the self-unfolding of a declaration?
-the global and historical distribution of subjectivity.
-relations between the state and the politics of demands in Badiou
-the politics of Badiou's subtractive ontology (and its distance from phenomenology, appearances, structure, relations, constituent units, etc).Questions pertaining to the relation between politics and ontology more broadly.
-tensions and or continuities between Badiou and Plato, Kant, Heidegger, Deleuze, Sartre, Schmitt, or Arendt
-Badiou's putative deposition of political economy, sociology, historical materialsm, etc.
-resonances/dissonances between Badiou and feminist theory, queer studies, critical race theory
-Keynesian, conservative, social democratic, anarchist, or communist dialogues with Badiou's work
Please send a 250 word prospectus to Andrew Pendakis: email@example.com or, Tim Kaposy: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for submission is February 29, 2012.
The issue is scheduled to be published May 15, 2012.
Politics and Culture is an online journal whose decade-long tradition has established itself as an important global source of critical theory, cultural studies, book reviews and intellectual debate.