You can already find information about all six confirmed Plenary Speakers here.

Manuela Boatcă | Institute for Sociology, University of Freiburg, Germany

Title: Europe Otherwise. On Decolonization, Creolization, and Inter-Imperiality

Social theory has long operated with universal categories extrapolated from a sanitized and sublimated version of European history that ignores both the experience of the East and the South of Europe, as well as the West’s colonial and imperial history. In order to contest the definition power of ahistorical universals – from the nation-state through citizenship rights and up to modernity – it is imperative to productively complicate the very notion of ‘Europe’. I therefore suggest that conceiving of Europe as a creolized space, or as Europe Otherwise, is one way to do so. The approach of Europe Otherwise takes into account the regional entanglements to which European colonialism and imperialism have given rise since the sixteenth century and makes it possible to rethink Europe as a political, cultural, and economic formation from its forgotten borders in the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea today. I argue that focusing on Europe’s current colonial possessions in the Caribbean and their corresponding geographical referent, Caribbean Europe, is a way to challenge, i.e., effectively creolize established understandings of Europe’s colonial history as a thing of the past, of a white European identity as the norm, and of the borders and scope of the European Union as confined to continental Europe. Mapping the theoretical and political implications of Europe Otherwise thus offers as a way out of systematically producing exceptions to a singular European norm by revealing them as rules when seen from multiple and unequal Europes instead.

Michel Wieviorka | Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH), France

Title: Democracy, Populism and After

In the late 80s, democracy was not really challenged in Western intellectual and political spheres – it was mainly considered as the opposite of dictatorship and totalitarianism. It was possible, therefore, for Francis Fukuyama to state, in 1989, that there was no alternative to it and that we were entering the “end of History”. Markets and democracy had triumphed. In 2019, only 30 years on, we know that even if democracy hasn’t entirely failed, it is being subjected to major challenges.
In this plenary address I will deal with the contemporary perspectives on, and limits to, democracy in Europe, including an analysis of populism. I will argue that ‘Populism’ is a mythical political formula, which resolves, via an imaginary discourse, all kinds of contradictions, up to the point that it becomes impossible. Then the myth explodes, opening the way to extremism, authoritarianism, nationalism, boundaries, barriers and awful belongings or identities. The main problem then is what comes AFTER POPULISM.

chaired by:

Sue Scott | Newcastle University and University of Helsinki (ESA President)

Welcome Reception:

Bee Flat Saxophone Quartet | Manchester, UK

Live music during the welcome reception following the Plenaries.

Michèle Lamont | Harvard University, USA

Title: Narratives of Hope: Self-Worth and the Current Crisis in American Society and Beyond

With growing inequality, the American Dream, and its equivalents elsewhere in the world, is becoming less effective as a collective myth. With its focus on material success, competition and self-reliance, neoliberalism is leading the upper-middle class toward a mental health crisis while the working class and low-income groups do not have the resources needed to live the dream. It also generates a hardening of symbolic boundaries toward various groups. One possible way forward is broadening cultural inclusion by promoting new narratives of hope. I will discuss approaches to achieving this goal. I will go on to discuss the role of culture and belonging in the promotion of collective well-being and conclude with an exploration of the implications of my analysis for Europe and other advanced industrial societies. 

Nasar Meer | School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK

Title: Cities of Fears, Cities of Hopes, and the ‘Refugee Crisis’

There is a pressing intellectual challenge to re-think two coterminous concerns: the rediscovery of the ‘local’ and the city in particular, and an understanding of the experience of displaced migration in European cities. Drawing on Bauman’s (2003) distinction between ‘cities of fears’ and ‘cities of hopes’, this keynote will ask what a focus on the ’local’ can tell us about recent developments in the governance of displaced migrants and refugees. Taking a multi-sited approach spanning cases in the south and north of Europe, it will discuss the challenge of housing and accommodation in particular, to consider how local and city level approaches may reproduce, negotiate and sometimes significantly diverge from national level policy and rhetoric, and what these means for our understanding of cities and migration today.

chaired by:

Marta Soler-Gallart | University of Barcelona, Spain (Conference Committee chair)

Françoise Vergès | Paris, France

Title: Decolonial Feminism in Europe and Beyond ***unfortunately cancelled***

In which ways decolonial feminism is contributing to political antiracism and anti-capitalist strategies for our times? Françoise Vergès will first define what she calls decolonial feminism and then will argue that women of color’s strikes in the cleaning/caring industry in Europe constitute a terrain of decolonial feminist struggle. To do so, she will explore how the work of racialized women in the cleaning/caring industry in Europe (which include sex work) bring together intersections between feminization of work, migrations, the fabrication of vulnerability and precariousness, of visibility and invisibility, the economy of exhaustion, health, race and gender and notions of cleanliness and dirtiness that trace new borders of living.

Sari Hanafi | American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Title: Migration and Refugees in a Global World: The Case of the Mediterranean

The world is witnessing unprecedented movements of refugees and labor workers all across the globe. In 2018, there were 68.5 million refugees, a 50% increase from the previous year. 80% of refugees come from Arab region. There are 20 million displaced people in the Arab world, a number that rises to 54 million when including economic migrants. The number of stateless people is also witnessing an increase, amounting to 15 million in 2018. In this paper I will unfold some features of the current migrants and refugees mobility in the Mediterranean, then I will point out three societal implications in relation to politics, religion and identity. First, the politics of disinformation about refugees/migrants and their scapegoating has encouraged totalitarian trend and politics of agnotology; second, the very presence of refugees/migrants has transformed the religion landscape in host societies and their will have major effect in the politics of (non-)integration in Mediterranean states, and finally identity politics is the dark side of pluralism, a concept dear to Peter Berger. Pluralism needs the management of cultural relativism and universalism. How would they be reconciled?

chaired by:

Gary Pollock | Manchester Metropolitan University (LOC chair)

All plenaries as well as the conference party take place at The Bridgewater Hall.