Saturday, December 30, 2006

Social movements, socio-spatial practices and the autonomy project in contemporary Latin America

The concept of autonomy - ‘living according to one’s own laws’ - has been discussed by philosophers since the 18th century, from Kant to contemporary liberals (who overemphasise its individual dimension). Especially in the philosophical work of Cornelius Castoriadis autonomy was understood as an alternative both to representative ‘democracies’ and Marxist ‘socialism’ (by virtue of the conservative and authoritarian dimension of the latter). Castoriadis understood much better than the liberals the interdependence of the two aspects which autonomy embraces: individual autonomy, that is the capacity of a particular individual to make choices in freedom, and collective autonomy, or the conscious and explicitly free self-rule of a particular society, as based on concrete institutional and material guarantees of equal chances of participation in socially relevant decision-making processes.

While adopting Castoriadis’ interpretation of the autonomy project as a major source of politico-philosophical and ethical inspiration, I have also argued in several works that it is necessary to see that, despite its European roots, in the context of globalisation and in the framework of a strongly ‘westernised’ world, this project is no longer a monopoly of the ‘West’ (in a strict sense) or of ‘western’ social movements. It is interesting to see that autonomy is a word which is often used by several social movements in Latin America, particularly by the piqueteros in Argentina and the zapatistas in Mexico. It is surely not accidental that some intellectuals linked to the zapatistas and piqueteros (or to the sem-teto [squatters] movement in Brazil) have cultivated a dialogue with Cornelius Castoriadis’ work. How have these social movements tried to implement the autonomy project under very heterogeneous particular circumstances - from rural Chiapas to the periphery of Buenos Aires to some squatters’ settlements in Rio de Janeiro? To which extent can we understand this kind of ‘adaptation’/‘translation’ of the politics of autonomy and horizontality by social movements outside Europe as a symptom of the vitality of the autonomy project?

Marcelo Lopes de Souza

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Arendt conference in Stockholm

The upcoming conference in Stockholm on Arendt, and her analysis of totalitarianism, has now presented a very promising preliminary programme, to be viewed here
Many of the speakers and organizers have worked extensively on Castoriadis (Arnason, Joas, Howard, Simonsuuri, and in part, Heller). The philosophical affinities between the two thinkers seem to be rather widely recognized.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winter Symposium programme complete

The programme for the first Winter Symposium in the Nordic Castoriadis Study Circle is now complete (view preliminary programme here), with theoretical papers from several disciplines as well as empirical case studies, and participants from a range of places.
NB: There is still plenty of room for participants without a paper. Students are particluarly welcome!

Also, don't forget the NSU Summer Session at Wiik Castle/Boarding School in Sweden, July 22-29 2007: A whole week of academic work and play, together with 7 other study circles, under the blonde Nordic summer nights. See NSU's homepage here provide super cheap flights in and out of Scandinavia if you order early.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Second Call for Papers - Bureaucratic Society and Autonomy

Check out the preliminary programme for the Winter Symposium in Stockholm here. Abstracts are still welcome until the programme is complete. Each presentation should be 30-40 minutes, followed by a general discussion of equal length. Language: English. Papers may also be in a Scandinavian language with presentation in English.

The papers in full length must be adimitted two weeks before the Symposium, to be distributed to the participants. Welcome!

Friday, December 01, 2006

autonomy and 'pseudo' rational mastery

castoriadis elucidates modernity as the dual institution of autonomy and the infinite pursuit of rational mastery. for him, these imaginary signfications are not just different (or other!) but polar. yet is there not an overlap of the autonomist imaginary in that of rational mastery?