ECPR General Conference

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Laclau, Rhetoric and Politics of Meaning

Chaired Panel: Politics of Populism with Halil Gürhanli The aim of this panel is to discuss the political nature of the concept of populism: how has it been used as a political tool? What is the history, what is the geography of the concept? Which different theoretical traditions have to be taken into account? The panel invites papers who consider the future of 'populism' and also attributes such as 'cultural populism' or 'radical populism'. Attended Panel: The Legacy of Ernesto Laclau: Discourse Theory, Hegemony, and Populism Last year Ernesto Laclau sadly passed away. This panel is a tribute to his enduring achievements within radical political theory. The papers testify to the 'state of the theory' but also point to the tasks ahead. The presentations are located within the central aspects of his theoretical legacy. From his own philosophical sources of inspiration such as deconstruction, psychoanalysis and rhetoric to the central concepts such as discourse, hegemony, antagonism, populism, logics etc. Among the topics covered are the theory of the subject as lack; the theory of democracy and the focus on the articulation of democratic demands and the need for their institutionalisation; the notion of equivalence and its articulation in economy; the relation between feminism and the theory of populism, and the question of the relation between Laclau's personal experiences and the development of his theory. Some of the papers are based on empirical examples but they all focus on the theoretical implications and the further developments needed. Paper abstract: This paper explores the legacy of Ernesto Laclau, as theorist of politics of meaning. Laclau focused on rhetoric, but contrasted to historians of ideas or conceptual historians, literary theorists or linguists, communication or psychoanalysts, he emphasised the political nature of discursive operations. He questioned the groundings others saw as fixed, whether dealing with on democracy or hegemony, political science or Marxist theory. Instead of assuming a common ground, he revealed operations on which a common ground had been established. Instead transformation of a concept, he showed the need to look at a transformation of a whole discursive field. Meanings, for Laclau, were relational and contingent, even though in politics they appear as fixed and eternal. Even the paradox behind his political theory lies in the rhetorical ontology. The theorist must insist on the openness of the discursive field, even though in politics one focuses on the (reestablishement of) closure.
Period26 Aug 201529 Aug 2015
Event typeOther
SponsorUniversité de Montréal
LocationMontreal, CanadaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational