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Strategies of Secession and Counter-Secession

Imagining Violence: The Politics of Narrative and Representation

Conflict Resolution
Human Rights
Political Violence
Critical Theory
Political theory
Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Mathias Thaler
University of Edinburgh
Workshop Co-Director
Mihaela Mihai
University of Edinburgh

Understanding political violence involves many different intellectual and societal operations: from examining the social macro-structures that enable and constrain actors engaging in violence, to investigating the motives and drives of individual perpetrators. One aspect, however, has received relatively little attention, even though it is central to a holistic approach to political violence: the faculty of imagination. This workshop will interrogate which role the faculty of imagination can play in understanding past as well as on-going instances of political violence. Several questions motivate this workshop: Can certain kinds of imagination help us tackle the challenge of responding to unprecedented forms of violence? What is the political value of literature recounting human rights violations in the aftermath of conflicts? What about the use of counterfactuals in justifying policy measures with regards to violence? Can media representations of distant suffering facilitate processes of understanding, build solidarity and catalyse action? Political theorists, IR scholars as well as comparativists have recently begun to raise these questions by looking into the politics of representation and narrative in the context of violence. We will create a forum for discussion among four established constituencies within ECPR: (1) political theorists working on the faculty of imagination and how it relates to other human capacities essential to political action; (2) students of transitional justice who examine the role of art in promoting reconciliation and democratic values in the wake of conflict; (3) IR scholars working at the intersection between politics and aesthetics; and (4) comparativists who investigate the institutional and informal mechanisms of tackling violence contextually. The interdisciplinary nature of the workshop will facilitate an inclusive and reflexive debate on the role that imagination as a faculty – and its artistic and methodological expressions – can play in unpacking complex issues of political violence.

Paper List

Title Details
Art as Evidence: Artistic Representation, Memory, and Curation in Post-Conflict Societies View Paper Details
Banal Phenomenologies of Violence: Media Work Cultures and Audience Engagement with Distant Suffering View Paper Details
Embodied Narration in Post-War West German Autonomie View Paper Details
Epistemic Injustice and the Artistic Imagination View Paper Details
Existential Aesthetic judging Sensibility, Worldly Recognition and the Political Significance of Narrative Imagination: Confronting the Tragic Nature of Political Affairs View Paper Details
History, Imagination, and Violence in Du Bois’s John Brown View Paper Details
How Films, Social Media and Novels Channel the Transitional Justice Process View Paper Details
Imagining 'Everybody': Political Popularisation as Triggers of Enthusiasm and Hate View Paper Details
Machiavelli and the Imagination of Cruelty View Paper Details
Re-Imagining Terrorism: The Case of Late-Imperial Russia View Paper Details
Representing Transitional Justice as Cultural Diplomacy: South Africa’s 'Imaginary Fact' at the Venice Biennale View Paper Details
Sparking the Pacifist Imagination by Depicting the Familiar as New: The Subversive Potential of Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Defamiliarisation’ View Paper Details
'Submission': Ambiguity, Hypocrisy and Misanthropy in Michel Houellebecq's Imaginary Politics View Paper Details
'Tetanus of the Imagination'?: The Presence of Vichy France in the Algerian War of Decolonization, 1954-1962 View Paper Details
The Art and Politics of Imagination: Remembering Mass Violence against Women View Paper Details
The Laughter of the Unreconciled: Jokes and Humor in Narratives of Atrocity View Paper Details
The Stains of Innocence: Genealogy, Non-Combatants and Terrorism View Paper Details
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