[Iag-list] NZGS Conference 2016 - Democracy in and from the Antipodes

Amanda Thomas amandacarolinethomas at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 06:54:32 AEDT 2015

Final call for papers:

*NZGS 2016 Session proposal*

*Democracy in and from the Antipodes*

In this session, we want to engage critical theorisations of democracy
within geography and particularly from the Antipodes. Here we don’t mean
the kind of democracy that is ‘unapologetically harnessed to the project of
capital accumulation’ (Brown 2011:47). Rather, we mean the kind of
democratic politics that creates space for alternative visions for a future
that is more equitable and just – both environmentally and socially.

This session comes at a time when many social scientists are drawing on the
work of political theorists such as Mouffe, Ranciere and Zizek to argue
that the Western world is characterised by depoliticisation (Allmendinger
and Haughton 2011; Wilson and Swyngedouw 2014). That is, contestation and
disagreement are displaced by technocratic managerialism, the privileging
of the free market and bland populism. For instance, Swyngedouw (2009)
argues that climate change is framed by elites as a problem that can be
solved by technocrats and experts and thereby ignoring the need for
radically different economic, political and social ways of living. And yet,
Larner (2014) cautions against broad-brush characterisations of
depoliticisation, warning that such sweeping claims render invisible
already existing contestation and innovative ways democracy is reclaimed.
Instead she paints a much more complex picture of the state of democracy
and possibilities at the current juncture. Similarly others (Thomas 2014;
Diprose 2015) have argued that greater attention should be paid to the
* processes* by which spaces for different political imaginaries are
narrowed or indeed opened up.

Taking our cue from these debates, and seeking to engage political theory
from the Antipodes, we invite theoretical and empirical contributions that
address these themes and may be linked to environmental concerns, trade
(for instance the TPPA), and other socio-political issues (such as social
welfare reform). Areas of focus may include:

-          How can democracy be theorised from (post)colonial contexts
(particularly Aotearoa New Zealand)? What might this mean for radical
democratic theory which is dominated by European voices?

-          What relevance do notions of the post-political have in the
Antipodes? Are there other theoretical frames that are more useful to
explain the complexity and democratic possibilities in Aotearoa New Zealand?

-          How has democracy been articulated and enacted by individual
subjectivities and/or collectives in ways that challenge, alter or resist
capitalist discourses and depoliticising processes? What are the
possibilities for a more environmentally and socially just world generated
by such articulations?

-          Conversely, what are some of the processes by which contestation
and / or difference is delegitimised?

-          What is the relationship between neoliberalism as it is
currently articulated in Aotearoa New Zealand and a broadly conceived

Please submit a short abstract (250 words or less) to Amanda Thomas,
Victoria University of Wellington (amandacarolinethomas at gmail.com), Sophie
Bond, Otago University (Sophie.Bond at otago.ac.nz) and Gradon Diprose, Open
Polytechnic (Gradon.Diprose at openpolytechnic.ac.nz) by* today, Friday 9
October. *
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