Re-Approaching the study of political Islam in a Context of Change.

Dr Lucia Ardovini, Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Just over 8 years after the outbreak of the so-called Arab uprisings, we seem to be unable to stop talking about it. The popular protests that led to the fall of authoritarian dictators and briefly reshuffled the status quo in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are still being used as a reference point in most of the scholarship on states and peoples in the area, be it to argue in favour of democratic practices or condemn regime-sponsored violence and authoritarianism. The recent wave of popular protests in Sudan and Algeria suggests that the momentum might still be there, bubbling under the surface.

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The strategic turn in post-Marxist Discourse Theory

Thomas Jacobs, PhD Researcher at Ghent University

Alan Williams tweeted a few years ago that for having a book entitled Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (HSS) as magnum opus, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe had remarkably little to say about political strategy. Indeed, while the concept of strategy features regularly in HSS, it is not crucial to understanding the book’s central argument. It remains equally low-key in their later work, and is all but absent in most of the secondary literature in post-Marxist Discourse Theory published in the quarter-century post-HSS.

Yet recently, something resembling a strategic turn can be discerned within Discourse Theory (DT). In Germany, Martin Nonhoff started working on a rigorous theorization of strategy that fits within DT’s ontology. Eva Herschinger reappraised the notion for the first-time for an Anglophone audience. The hugely influential Inventing the Future by Srnicek and Williams placed strategic reflection about how progressives win at politics in the 21st century at the centre of its argument. And to make the circle full, Chantal Mouffe’s most recent work, For a Left-Wing Populism, wonders what kind of political strategy the Left needs to pursue in order to successfully implement its progressive projects.

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Populism: What’s in a name?

In 2018 the most used and abused term was undoubtedly that of ‘populism’.

Professor Ronaldo Munck

Rarely has a term been so over-inflated and so over-extended that it has become practically meaningless, while at the same time achieving iconic status. I propose here to carry out a (very) brief deconstruction of the term populism and the presentation of an alternative reading based on the work of the late Ernesto Laclau (On Populist Reason) and my own Latin American in Europe hybrid viewpoint.

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