conference TAKING SIDES (28-30.06)


The conference “Taking Sides” will take place on June 28-30. The Program includes four keynotes and four interdisciplinary workshops, with participants from around the world. Interested students and researchers are welcome to join us, but please indicate your interest to Anne.ganzert[ät]


The Conference “Taking Sides” will explore different perspectives on dissent, while understanding practices, cultures and theories of resistance, dispute and opposition as inherently participative. The concept of side-taking will hence be investigated in different facets. Firstly, as assuming a position/opinion in opposition to another or even the affiliation with a cause or unpopular standpoint. Secondly, in a play on words, thinking about side-taking also includes the taking of sites as a manner of protest, occupation, appropriation or acquisition. Thirdly, taking a side implies an active decision, rather than a circumstantial factor, that involves subjects’ positions as well as their subjectification as such.

Under these preliminary considerations, questions arise, of how dissent can be feasible as well as thinkable. Is there an option to oppose without automatically being part of the opposed? It could be argued that any ‘contra’ inevitably reiterates or even reinforces its ‘pro’. The affirmative aspect of practices of dissent, when they are inscribed or want to be visible in their respective discourse, also demands attention. Additionally, historic and contemporary moments in which dissent becomes resistance or in which dissent is dissolved are compelling. Are self-proclaimed ‘alternatives’ really distinct, or are they merely substitutes that automatically turn into standards and become normative over time? When does objection to something further close an issue, when does it become open, when renitence builds up an all sides? It is also debatable, who or which processes mark something as being the antipode of an issue, which automatically is then made the norm. How can we describe the processes of inclusion and exclusion that take place when “being against” by itself draws a line?

By focusing on four different fields of dissent, the conference participants will put different modes of resistance up for discussion: Queer Thinking, Decolonizing Knowledge, Media Activism and Critique. “Queer Thinking” includes aspects of the body as a political instance, the problematizing of identity and subjectivity building of individuals and groups by gender hierarchies, two-gender hegemony or heteronormativity. Decolonizing Knowledge problematizes different aspects of knowledge making. Next to the pivotal aspect of coloniality and the related cultural, racial, sexual and geographical dichotomies we are focusing on aesthetical and activist practices of knowledge making. “Media Activism” will discuss (micro-)practices of dissent which can also focus on the importance of the (social) media and practices within social media communities, which are directed against industry standards as well as tactics that are positioned to oppose a participation by default. “Critique” will ask about the (im)possibilities to take up an external position, and highlights a critique from within that reflects its situation, ‘ecologies of practices’ and partiality. The discussion will therefore touch upon contemporary issues, recent protests and movements, artistic subversion and dissent, online activism as well as historic developments and elemental theories of dissent.

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