The Politics and Poetics of Community within the Anglophone Left
Sorbonne Université / Paris Nanterre University
March 21-23, 2024
The notion of community is among what Walter Bryce Gallie called “essentially contested concepts.” Although there may be widespread agreement on the basic meaning of community, the best way to create and sustain it fuels endless debates that neither pure logic nor empirical evidence can definitively settle. Community building is rather subject to constant political and cultural struggle. The Anglosphere is no exception.
This conference aims to gather research on the building and maintenance of communities whose principles or ideas are associated with the political left, within the English-speaking world. Over the past five decades, neoliberal globalization has posed acute challenges to the Anglophone left as traditional forms of community and collective organization have struggled to resist the withering effects of global markets and industrial reorganization. Right-wing movements have sought to rebuild and sustain communities via conservative religious values, rural and small-town identities, and xenophobic nationalism. How have left-wing movements offered alternative approaches to community, making use of values such as social empowerment, equality, liberty, inclusion, and solidarity? How can past experiences continue to inspire those of the present? What political and cultural strategies are deployed to build such communities?
“Politics of community” refers to both public policies aimed at strengthening community structures, as well as activism aimed at mobilizing the members of a community for a common political purpose. Local and intentional communities are often innovative laboratories for alternatives to the established social order, while identity-based community politics can mobilize oppressed social groups far beyond the local level. This conference welcomes both empirical case studies and theoretical research on left-wing politics of community within the Anglosphere, whether it be on a local, regional, national, or international scale.
“Poetics of community” can apply to both artistic communities and representations of community in various works of art (literature, poetry, cinema, visual arts, etc.). Writers, artists, filmmakers, etc. have found that a functioning community enables the fulfillment of real material needs, while it also inspires the development and transmission of shared artistic projects and political horizons. Left-wing artistic communities within the Anglosphere have often found themselves in an antagonistic relationship with broader efforts to construct conservative national narratives. In addition to research on artistic communities, this conference welcomes studies on literary and artistic creations that, for example, invite us to imagine utopian communities, or that participate in the construction of shared memories of past communities, presented as either models or counter-models for left-wing movements.
- Tom Allen, Paris Nanterre University
- Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau, Sorbonne University
- Laurence Gervais, Paris Nanterre University
- Nicolas Jara Joly, Paris Nanterre University
- Bradley Smith, Paris Nanterre University