Call for Papers | The 2023 ICCTP Conference | Theorizing Global Authoritarianism: To Reclaim Critical Theory Against the Grain

February 8, 2023

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2023

Organizers: International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs | Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, Kyung Hee University, South Korea

Co-organizer: Asia Theories Network

Dates: June 9-11, 2023

Venue: Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea

What characteristics are shared by the rising authoritarianism around the world, even though each nation’s political context is unique? What factors contribute to the growth of authoritarianism on a global scale? Does the ascendance of reactionary beliefs and movements constitute a danger to democratic institutions and local communities on a continental or global scale? The reach of these phenomena is not confined to a particular nation or state but can now be observed in every region of the world. In the meantime, most assessments continue to be rooted in geopolitical approaches to the Global North, which fail to see beyond the confines of nationalism and the nation-state. In response to this constraint on political theorizing, the purpose of this conference is to conceptualize the idea of global authoritarianism by focusing on how it is coupled with post-colonial modernization and the growth of global capitalism.

Eric Hobsbawm referred to the period from 1914 to 1991 as “the short twentieth century,” a time marked by extreme events such as the two world wars and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hobsbawm argued that the end of the Second World War was followed by what could be considered a “third world war,” with various conflicts occurring in the Global South and Asia. This split frequently included operations using violence and enabled local power elites to sustain authoritarian regimes while also allowing for some features of liberal democracy. We still observe elites keeping close links with authoritarian regimes, even though Hobsbawm’s framework for comprehending modern global conflicts and inequality has become out of date.

The systematic slaughter of civilians in the Global South and Asia during this time period revealed the truth that lay hidden beneath the symbolic rhetoric of anti-fascism, as well as the prioritization of authoritarian rule over the protection of the right to independence for all individuals. The Cold War also significantly impacted post-colonial modernization in the Global South, with many countries in the region being ruled by military dictatorships from the 1950s to the 1970s. These dictatorships were often supported by the United States, even though they committed severe human rights violations and left a legacy of trauma and disrupted histories in the region. The authoritarian regimes paved the way toward neoliberalism, as in the case of Chile.

Similarly in Asia authoritarianism deployed disciplinary power and biopower to produce the “good nation” of this period and as the ideological justification for the normalization of violence. Those in power justified the control of sexuality and the labor force through this nation-building process. The myth of the so-called “Asian Tigers” served as the ideological inclusion of the political resistance under the imperative order of economic development. Since the 1980s, democratic movements have rejected the authoritarian matrix in the region. The political shift successfully brought forth the social orientation towards liberal democracy to the surface in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. In the 1990s and the 2000s, however, the phase of democratization came along with neoliberal globalization and escalated precarity in the area.

Regarding this complicated relationship between the historical origins of global authoritarianism and the deep roots of the current reactionary milieu, the conference aims to reclaim critical theory against the return of authoritarianism to understand better and critically address the current crisis of democratic institutions and values. In this sense, the conference is interested in critical examinations of authoritarianism and the influence that it has had on today’s reactionary politics and culture. This current circumstance requires both critical thought and practical engagement. We invite theoretically and creatively informed interventions into this new (or recurrent) authoritarian trend and the search for possible ways out of this vicious circulation.

Papers might address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

— Neoliberalism and Securitarian Logics

— Gender, Race and the Incitation of Fascism

— Community, Immunity, and Authoritarianism

— Fascism and its Global Legacy

— Changes in Capitalism and the Return of Authoritarianism

— Social Media and Authoritarianism

— Authoritarian Regimes and Popular Culture

— Authoritarian Nation-Building and the Control of Sexuality

— War and Authoritarianism

— The Politics of Dread

— Modernization and Capitalist Accumulation in Global South and Asia

— Borders and Global Migration under Authoritarian Legitimacy

— Colonialism and its Authoritarian Legacy

— Literary and Cultural Resistance against Authoritarianism.

We welcome paper, panel, and workshop submissions from activists and academics. Please submit your proposal(s) to Alex Taek-Gwang Lee at until March 31, 2023.

Paper proposal: 300-word abstract

Panel proposal: 300-500-word abstract detailing the focus of the panel, plus list of 3-5 speakers and paper titles

Workshop proposal: 300-500-word abstract detailing the focus of the workshop, plus list of speakers/facilitators

  • Partial financial support is available to scholars from around the globe who cannot otherwise attend.

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