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PREFIGURING DEMOCRATIC FUTURES. CULTURAL AND THEORETICAL RESPONSES TO THE CRISIS OF POLITICAL IMAGINATION

Objective

Democracy is in a crisis of global scale. This crisis has variously been attributed to a loss of belief in political representation, the rising of technocratic ‘post-democracy’, or an authoritarian and populist turn. However, a narrow focus on the political system is inadequate. PREDEF starts from the assumption that the crisis of democracy is also a crisis of political imagination. As the infamous TINA-principle (‘There is no Alternative’) illustrates, it has become increasingly difficult to imagine genuine democratic alternatives to the status quo. PREDEF sets out to explore potentials for deepening and pluralizing democracy beyond the sphere of politics narrowly defined as the body of existing political institutions. The project will turn to the fields of culture, art and intellectual history, for these fields hold hitherto untapped potentials for extending our democratic imaginary and disclosing political alternatives.
Located at the intersection between cultural research and democratic theory, PREDEF meets this challenge empirically and theoretically. Empirically, artistic and cultural counter-practices are investigated that champion democratization in the time-based arts (through theatrical occupations), international relations (through counter-summits) and law (through ‘mock’ tribunals). Theoretically, the project seeks to widen our democratic imaginary by searching the history of ideas for ‘forgotten’ institutions that hold untapped democratic potentials, and by elaborating a democratic theory of counter-institutions.
The main objectives are:
i. regaining a ‘sense of possibility’ in a time of vanishing democratic alternatives,
ii. exploring the democratizing potential of cultural and artistic practices and institutions;
iii. learning from alternative configurations of the past and beyond the Western context, specifically regarding institutional designs;
iv. connecting theoretical and empirical research with the aim of genuine cross-fertilization.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITAT WIEN
Net EU contribution
€ 2 430 483,00
Address
Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien
Austria

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Region
Wien Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00