Call for Papers: Political Participation, Mass Disruptions, and the New Fortresses

Call for Papers: Political Participation, Mass Disruptions, and the New Fortresses

Deadline: Papers must be submitted by November 25, 2016

The outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011 along with continuous regional instability, the wars against terrorism, and the collapse in global economy has lead to a severe humanitarian crisis. Consequently, refugees and migrants are moving across continents to flee extreme violence, repression, and poverty. The nation-states are struggling to make adequate politics and refugees are to an increasing extent articulated as uncontrollable disruptive masses or crowds that threaten the economic and cultural coherence of nation-states. This is not least reflected in the proliferation of xenophobic politicians and political parties gaining governmental influence and in the establishment of new “fortresses”. The notion of “fortress Europe” (Carr 2015) has in this context been used to describe the highly symbolic and affective processes of guarding nations and continents, which paradoxically rely on migration in order to sustain and prevail. This situation is critical and it calls for the acute investigation of the processes that are at stake when movements subvert existing political systems of power and new fortresses – physical as well as imaginary – are set up (Bermajo 2009; Carr 2015; Hann 2014).


This special issue seeks papers that inquire into the ways in which the relationship between movements of people, new fortresses and new political subjectivities configures political participation. In particular we are interested in the ways in which fortresses restrict and control movement and access to participation within national communities, but also in how new forms of political participation and activism are enacted in response. The issue seeks papers that 1) qualify what a fortress is (i.e. imaginary constructs, borders, data-generated surveillance), 2) inquire into the ways in which fortresses imagine, mediate and invent movements of people as masses and crowds, 3) examines the intersections between fortresses and affective body-politics imbedded in interfaces and data-generated archiving, 4) explore new social movements and activism responding to the crisis and 5) examine the relationship between the individual, the mass, and the crowd and this configures or restricts political participation and the right to act, speak, and move.


Papers may also address:


The premediation of mass disruptions. While there is no denying that, for instance, the war in Syria is a mass disruption of the life of millions of people, mass disruptions are not always present. Rather, fortresses are often being established as a safeguard against a ‘premediated’ (Grunsin 2010) mass. Potential asylum seekers are premediated as a mass about to burst the borders of the fortress. The question of concern is thus how premediation invents and dislocates the mass and how this impact access to participation.


Crowds and revised social subjectivities. A number of scholars have argued for the need to revitalize the crowd theory of Gabriele Tarde, Gustave Le Bon, Walter Benjamin, and Elias Canetti in order to understand how contemporary crowd formations are evolving in new ways due to digital media (Sampson 2012, Blackman 2012, Borch and Knudsen 2013, Stage 2013). The question of concern is, in prolongation of this, is thus how we can understand the different social subjectivities and political and collective formations that inform not only the movement of people, but also the making of fortresses.


Disrupting and forming of political participation. The making of fortresses is certainly challenging the understanding of political participation, because the fortresses essentially concern access to participation in given societies and communities. It is necessary to understand the relations between fortresses and for instance the wave of activists, NGOs, and participatory art practices that are self-organizing for instance to welcome refugees and asylum seekers or to subvert conventional notions of mapmaking in order to actively promote social change (Baghat and Mogel 2008). A topic of concern is thus the relationship between fortresses and a wider mobilization of political and cultural participation.

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