Open Speakers Series Lecture "Three Remarks on Populism: Sovereignty, Class, Figure" to be given by Professor Mahmut Mutman
Three Remarks on Populism: Sovereignty, Class, Figure
Professor Mahmut Mutman, IASR
Time: Tuesday, 29 October 2019, at 16:15-17:45
Place: Tampere University, NB! Pinni B, lecture hall B1100, Kanslerinrinne 1, 1st fl.
“Change the object itself” said Roland Barthes once. These three remarks are meant to change the object called “populism” by looking at other things: sovereignty, class, figure. First, I will discuss the concepts of sovereignty and political theology. Unfolding Foucault’s observation that “we have not cut off the king’s head in political theory yet”, I will underline the discontinuities and continuities between royal (or divine) and democratic (or national) sovereignty. I will draw on both Foucault’s concept of biopolitics and Derrida’s deconstruction of sovereignty. This discussion will bring me to the question “who are the people?”, and to the second remark on class. I will argue that “populism” has to do with class as a dynamic group formation in modern capitalist society. More specifically, it is an effect of the opening up or narrowing down of the paths of upward/downward mobility due to deregulation, unemployment, financialisation, and mobility of capital. The class dynamic operates in different ways in central and peripheral formations, leading to different political articulations around ethnicity, race and religion. Third remark is about the difficult concept of “figure,” which operates on linguistic as well as visual and visceral registers. This has to do with the figure of the other, the immigrant, the criminal or the terrorist as well as the figure of the leader. In conclusion, I will suggest that, rather than hastily synthesizing these uneven dimensions, we work along multiple lines of inquiry.