October 12, 2016

Keynote lecture by Wendy Brown:“Neoliberalism, Financialization and Democracy: Ten Theses”

Vera List Center for Art and Politics

Wendy Brown. Photo: Donna Korones.

Launching the seminar series “Mobility in Post Democracy”

Democracy and citizenship after the state
With many states on the brink of a democratic collapse, the “Mobility in Post Democracy” series connects to the simultaneous disdain and opportunity revealed in this moment. Kicking off the “Mobility in Post Democracy” event series, acclaimed theorist Wendy Brown delivers a keynote address, co-sponsored with the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, to map current landscapes and possible futures in a post democratic era.

In her work, Wendy Brown has explored the changing nature of citizenship, identity, free speech, democratic theory, and sovereignty from the 19th century to the present. Speaking about the impacts of financialization on democracy and citizenship, and with particular attention to the crisis of democracy in the European Union, Brown will expand on her 2015 book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, hailed as a clarion call to take back democracy. In Brown’s striking analysis, the political subject, homo politicus, has been overcome by the value-enhancing, anti-solidaristic homo economicus, with far reaching implications for the institutions of citizenship, higher education, social justice, and democracy itself.

Wendy Brown, class of 1936. First Chair of Political Science at the University of California Berkeley, received her PhD in Political Philosophy from Princeton University in 1983. Prior to coming to Berkeley in 1999, she taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and at Williams College. She lectures around the world and has held a number of distinguished visiting fellowships and lectureships. Most recently, she has been a visiting faculty member of the European Graduate School in Saas Fe, the Birkbeck Critical Theory Summer School and the Law School at the London School of Economics. She is the author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015), Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (Zone Books, 2010), and Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (Princeton University Press, 2006) among numerous others. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Seminar series: “Mobility in Post Democracy”
Post Democracy has recently arisen as a complex and contradictory term: for some it promises a new participatory platform for the mobilizing forces of social media, considered catalysts for political imagination. Others equate Post Democracy with democracy’s demise due to the penetration of global capitalism into every regime type coupled with the increasing intervention of international actors in domestic politics. Decried as “democratic melancholy,” such skepticism is considered ill placed by yet others for whom “democracy” was never a political system to aspire to.

Under the heading “Mobility in Post Democracy,” the Vera List Center is presenting a series of interdisciplinary panels, seminars, and lectures that examine Post Democracy as a condition informed by mobility—across institutions, states, and ideologies. The series brings together an international group of scholars, activists, students, and artists to probe the concept of democracy more generally at the time of the contested US presidential elections, and the concurrent emergence and demise of democratic regimes throughout the world.

Artist-driven, the events aim to ask questions such as: how can new social movements counter networks of power? What creative organizing tactics are being developed to reinvigorate a democratic ethos? What forms of political institutions and alliances are flexible and resilient?


“Mobility in Post Democracy” is a Vera List Center public seminar series, supported by the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility.

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