Recycling identity politics in an age of populism and austerity: On the Crosslocations of Brexit, the personal and the political

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Abstract: There is something strangely familiar about the arguments and moral tone of many political debates at the moment in London, whether they come from the right, left or trans-intersection-woke sides of the debate. Almost forty years ago in London, during the era of Thatcher and the restructuring of the welfare state, what was called ‘identity politics’ by some and ‘political correctness’ by others, was raging amongst radical and alternative political groups who were fighting on behalf of a variety of causes in the city, particularly issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class. By the mid-1980s, the debates had become toxic, as people weaponised their political positions and used them to attack each other, usually in highly emotionally and morally charged ways, even as they were being equally harshly attacked by the conservative media for being the ‘loony left’ or ‘political correctness gone crazy’. It was exhausting, and people regularly spoke of their burnout as a reason to retreat from their activism. Now zoom forward to the contemporary period in the midst of the era of austerity politics, anti-migration, Brexit and populism on the one hand, and a refashioned alternative moral and political scene centred around gender, sexuality, class, race and climate on the other: the personalised, and politically and morally forceful, tone of the debates seem highly familiar, even if the world is now a different place. The familiarity circulates around the basic principles of identity politics and the powerful emotional charge that is attached to the different political positions taken. Yet then, as now, these politics co-exist with different approaches, ones that are instead based on fighting for legal rights, rather than moral identities. This paper explores what form of not-quite-repetition of identity politics the current political climate constitutes.
Period3 Dec 2019
Event typeWorkshop
LocationVienna, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational