Imagining Violence: The Politics of Narrative and Representation
Date and Time
24th Apr 2016
Not specified

Understanding political violence involves many different intellectual and societal operations: from examining the social macro-structures that enable and constrain actors engaging in violence, to investigating the motives and drives of individual perpetrators. One aspect, however, has received relatively little attention, even though it is central to a holistic approach to political violence: the faculty of imagination.

This workshop will interrogate which role the faculty of imagination can play in understanding past as well as on-going instances of political violence. Several questions motivate this workshop: Can certain kinds of imagination help us tackle the challenge of responding to unprecedented forms of violence? What is the political value of literature recounting human rights violations in the aftermath of conflicts? What about the use of counterfactuals in justifying policy measures with regards to violence? Can media representations of distant suffering facilitate processes of understanding, build solidarity and catalyse action? Political theorists, IR scholars as well as comparativists have recently begun to raise these questions by looking into the politics of representation and narrative in the context of violence.

We will create a forum for discussion among four established constituencies within ECPR:

  • Political theorists working on the faculty of imagination and how it relates to other human capacities essential to political action;
  • Students of transitional justice who examine the role of art in promoting reconciliation and democratic values in the wake of conflict;
  • IR scholars working at the intersection between politics and aesthetics; and
  • Comparativists who investigate the institutional andinformal mechanisms of tackling violence contextually.

The interdisciplinary nature of the workshop will facilitate an inclusive and reflexive debate on the role that imagination as a faculty – and its artistic and methodological expressions – can play in unpacking complex issues of political violence.

Programme and Report First Workshop Pisa 2016.