Ongoing Calls

Call for Contributions: A Global Visual Handbook of Anti-Authoritarian Counterstrategies

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Submit until July 31st 2021

Yellow rubber ducks floating over the heads of protesters in Bangkok, Pink Gangs taking back streets and homes from patriarchal violence in India, blindfolded women dancing and chanting “the rapist is you!” in Chile, “Sardines” flooding every Far-Right event in Italy, and yellow umbrellas against tear gas in Hong Kong. Struggles against authoritarianism in its various forms – anti-feminism, racism, reactionary nationalism, anti-environmentalism, and others – often produce powerful symbols and iconic cultural artifacts which travel around the globe, inspiring other counterstrategies and moments of resistance. 

[Why the need for a handbook?] 

In addition to examples that have achieved global visibility, there are thousands of actions, interventions, mobilizations, and spaces which help to defy authoritarianism in their local or regional contexts but are unable to reach a global audience and therefore, are unable to inspire similar movements elsewhere. 

A piece of street art or a broad public campaign, a poem or a space for poetic creation, a small media outlet, a political theatre collective or a satirical meme: effective counterstrategies subvert and oppose symbols and languages of new and old authoritarianisms and sometimes, provide glimpses of powerful counter-aesthetics. This is crucial, as authoritarian politics rarely work through rational argument but more often, appeal to their followers’ gut feeling. Thus, beyond sharp and systematic analysis on the global turn towards authoritarianism, which we are currently witnessing, we need counterstrategies that defy the emotive politics of authoritarianism and effectively communicate emancipatory alternatives in another language, other imagery, and radically different sensual experiences. Fragments of these have been produced by different emancipatory social movements, political activists, and artists worldwide.

[What we want to do]

To gather these existing counterstrategies and inspire those yet to come, we aim to publish a visual handbook about resistance, disobedience, reversals of authoritarian regimes, political movements, and activists worldwide. The print publication will be accompanied by an online platform. During the entire process, contributors from around the world will have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with each other.

With this handbook, we aim not only to celebrate and to perpetuate these strategies against authoritarianism that are, by nature, often partial, temporary, fleeting, and marginal but also to learn from each other. Through collecting and linking different experiences, inviting critical reflection, and bringing to light untold stories of resistance, we seek to support a global exchange between emancipatory initiatives and explore questions such as: What are promising emotive and visual counterstrategies? How do you subvert authoritarian populist discourse, communication strategies or logic? What imagery fosters disobedience and resistance? What are the roles of aesthetics, sensory experience, and symbols in such counterstrategies and in the communication of alternatives to authoritarian rule? What might emancipatory counter-aesthetics look like?

In accordance with the visceral quality of authoritarianism, we place strong emphasis on aesthetic and emotive entry points to practices of resistance, on their symbolic meaning and their visual products, as well as the documentation and experience of resistance. We chose this not only to appeal to a broader public but because we are convinced that in addition to an exchange of ideas, we are also in need of an exchange of more sensual and visceral experiences of anti-authoritarian struggle. Aside from countering authoritarianism, these experiences are crucial to building, communicating, and realizing alternative visions and futures based on solidarity and freedom from domination.

[What contributions should look like]

To participate, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words until July 31st to: counterstrategies@posteo.de 

Contributions can be in any of the following languages: English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Standard Chinese, and German.

The finalized contributions should be handed in by the end of November, can include text of up to 1500 words and should include visualizations. These visualizations can be mappings and data visualizations and/or of visualizations of an artistic kind, like photographs, flyers, and works of art. Most importantly, these visualizations should offer their own aesthetic access to the topic.

While the submissions do not have to be case studies, the contributions should be connected to an act of resistance, a moment of non-compliance, or a counterstrategy against contemporary authoritarianism that has already occurred. They could take the form of a story, a poem, the analysis of an artwork, a map, an image, a cartoon, or something else, as long as it can be published in print. 

We explicitly welcome contributions from individuals or groups that are themselves involved in the struggle. They can be academic but also journalistic, activist, artistic or humorous in their respective approach. 

Accepted contributions will be compensated with 250 Euro. 

The publication is a collaboration of Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung, the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies (IRGAC) and kollektiv orangotango.

Past Calls

Call for applications: Authoritarianism and Global Capitalism: Emancipatory Counter-Strategies in and from the Middle East

6 Short-Term Fellowships (up to 9 months) for postdocs, research-based artists, and journalists from ODA-recipient countries of the MENA region in 2021.

Application deadline: 1 March 2021
Location:
Berlin
Download Call (pdf)

The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (both Freie Universität Berlin), and “Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe” (EUME), a research programme at the Forum Transregionale Studien, invite postdoctoral researchers, research-based artists, and journalists from countries of the Middle East and North Africa to apply for up to six short-term research fellowships in the period from April–December 2021.

We explicitly welcome applications from researchers who are currently residing in Germany or other European countries. 

Authoritarianism, Global Capitalism, and Counter-Strategies

We are witnessing a worldwide resurgence of reactionary nationalist, religious, racist, and antifeminist discourses and movements that give form to specific ideological amalgams and practices in different contexts, as well as rapid authoritarian transformations of political systems in all regions of the world. Not everything is new about this. But although contemporary developments in many ways may represent a continuation of previously-existing authoritarian patterns, their worldwide spread and their specific economic, political, and ideological character pose important questions concerning the concrete conditions and processes of this globalization of authoritarianism. 

Economic politics are key to understanding the specificities of the current developments. Following the crisis of 2007–8, neoliberalism as a global political and economic regime of governance and as a specific mode of capital accumulation is paradoxically expanding, deepening, and being stripped of some of its “progressive” facets by authoritarian regimes, while simultaneously being questioned for its destructive effects on society, politics, and the environment. 

Struggles and strategies against authoritarian politics and austerity measures have emerged across the South/North and East/West divides that governed politics and academic inquiries over the last century. Large-scale mobilizations have been unfolding in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Hong Kong, Thailand, Chile, Bolivia, Belarus, and other countries. From local small-scale campaigning by grassroots organizations to massive feminist mobilizations against the culturalist-conservative backlash or oppressive political conditions, strong claims for pluralism, redistribution, participation, and social justice have emerged during the past few years. 

The revolutionary uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2010/2011 in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, as well as in 2018/2019 in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq have contested authoritarian rule and socio-economic injustices in the region through mass movements. Defying predictions that underscored the supposed durability and resilience of local authoritarian rule, these uprisings mobilized people far beyond national borders and had and still have a massive impact on progressive movements worldwide. At the same time, the authoritarian backlash that has characterized the last few years poses important questions regarding the organization, structures, limits, and challenges of emancipatory politics today. 

We consider that there is a lot to learn from each of these struggles and from a transregional comparison. On the one hand, they are key sites for understanding what is currently at stake. Critical perspectives that zoom in on concrete struggles, its representations, its actors, and the strategies they implement seem to us most promising for understanding the political subjects of what has formerly been called “class struggle”– i.e. subjects that not only constitute these struggles, but are contingently constituted by them. On the other hand, in view of a globalized authoritarian challenge, we consider it important to critically engage with resistance strategies, campaigns, and initiatives for a renewal of emancipatory internationalism and its transformative potential for the idea and practice of a just world.

Possible research questions may be articulated from all branches of the social sciences and humanities and include: 

  • Questions regarding (new) political subjectivities expressed in and formed by anti-authoritarian movements and initiatives, their political practices, and forms of organization and communication, especially regarding its transnational, transregional and/or global entanglements; 
  • Questions of new or old imaginaries and narratives (inside and outside of organized anti-authoritarian struggles) that may relate different movements towards a broader platform or counter-project to the hegemony of global authoritarianism and the destructive effects of capitalism;
  • Discussions of the most vibrant (outspoken and silent) demands which connect many people in the locality or region and could serve as the basis for an inclusive alternative agenda against prevailing forms of classist, nationalist, racist, sexist, religious, and other forms of marginalization;
  • Narrative, visual, archival, and communicative strategies and practices that can cope with the authoritarian spectre of the near-absolute control and massive oppression that is available through technological surveillance;
  • Analyses that focus on specific manifestations, processes, and practices of reactionary ideologization and mobilization as well as the counter-hegemonic responses to them; 
  • Studies that address the transformation of institutions and infrastructures that were built up or conceived to safeguard the rule of law and the principles of citizenship;
  • Questions concerning the relation between national and regional actors, and the global struggle for cultural hegemony and the “global authoritarian populist axis”, as well as their relation to the general context of neocolonial, imperial relationships;
  • Inquiries into the transformation of secular and religious politics as an integral part of policies designed to tighten the authoritarian grip;
  • Discussions of the global impact of the uprisings in the MENA region.

Structure and Goals

The fellowships are funded by the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS), an initiative aimed at supporting critical research in and from countries of the Global South, and strengthening the dialogue between scholars and research-oriented artists and journalists from the Global South and North. 

This call is made in cooperation with three Berlin-based research institutions: the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, both at the Freie Universität Berlin, and Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe, a research programme at the Forum Transregionale Studien, to establish a working group that explores emancipatory strategies against authoritarian capitalism and reactionary politics with scholars from the Middle East.

Fellowship holders gain the opportunity to advance their own individual research and/or artistic projects and to collaborate closely with colleagues in an interdisciplinary and transregional research milieu. 

They will become visiting researchers at one of the aforementioned institutions and fully take part in the academic and intellectual life of those institutions. They will also be fellows of the RLS International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counterstrategies (IRGAC) that brings together more than 20 researchers from across the Global South. 

Apart from advancing their own research, the fellowship holders are expected to work together in a joint project to map the most important, most virulent, or most promising struggles and strategies against the authoritarian transformations in the MENA region. At the end of the nine-month period, the research group should present a comprehensive paper/study on this issue that will serve as a basis to establish the framework of a more comprehensive research agenda for a future, long-term activist research project on counter-strategies in and from the region. The fellows are also expected to present ideas, positions, and preliminary findings of their work on a separate blog section of the research group´s website, and we strongly encourage the fellows to present their work in public or semi-public events such as an academic workshop series.

The fellowships explicitly aim to contribute to a more global conversation between scholars for a better understanding of the rising spread of authoritarianism and to advance the idea and praxis of just and democratic societies. We are particularly interested in approaches that propose comparative and international perspectives for and from the Global South on these issues, and are curious for an exchange on how diverse historical and contemporary experiences of authoritarian practices and counter-strategies contribute to a better understanding of the phenomenon.

Requirements

Due to funding stipulations, only citizens of ODA-recipient countries are eligible to apply. 

Applicants with academic research projects should have completed their PhD within the last five years. 

Applicants with artistic or journalistic research projects should have completed studies up to Master’s level and have professional experience that is comparable to a PhD.

Please note that in order to facilitate an ongoing and productive dialogue between scholars, the working language is English. Therefore, applicants are required to have a very good command of the English language. 

Financial Support 

The financial support provided to the researchers is calculated at €2,500 per month. In case this is necessary, return (economy class) airfares for intercontinental flights will be covered by the fellowship, as well as travel costs to attend events organized by the RLS. Additional project-related funds may be granted.

Submission

Please direct any queries and submit your application in one single PDF file (5 MB max; please name the file “SurnameName_application.pdf”) to gsdp.application@rosalux.org

We strongly encourage applicants to inform themselves about the research fields of each institution and propose one of them as the preferred host institution in their application.

Your application should include: 

  • A letter of motivation, including a statement on your preferred host institution and a brief description of political, social, and/or cultural engagement. 
  • An outline of the project you would like to carry out, consisting of: 

– abstract (max. 250 words);

– research proposal (max. 2000 words); 

– project timeline; and 

– proposed outcomes. 

  • Curriculum vitae, including a publication list. 

The publication list should be divided into publications in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and conference papers. For artistic researchers, please provide documentation of your work. If available, please provide a digital link to the publication. 

  • 2 names of referees.

We will inform all applicants of the results of the selection process by mid-March 2021. 

Partners

For more information on the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, please visit:

www.irgac.org | www.rosalux.org 

For information on the research programme “Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe“ (EUME) and the Forum Transregionale Studien:

www.eume-berlin.de | www.forum-transregionale-studien.de

For more information on the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin:

www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/en/polwiss/forschung/international/vorderer-orient/index.html 

For information on the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at the Freie Universität Berlin:

http://www.bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de/en/index.html


Authoritarian Competition States
Global Perspectives from the South

A call for applications for short-term postdoctoral fellowships by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and the International Center for Development and Decent Work, Kassel, Germany 

Application deadline was 24 April 2020. Closed

• Download full call

Eligibility: Postdoctoral researchers from ODA-recipient countries based at research institutions in countries of the ‚Global South‘. 

The Global Scholarly Dialogue Programme is an initiative of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (RLS) aimed at supporting critical research in and from countries of the Global South, and at strengthening dialogue between critical research on authoritarian capitalism from the Global North and South. To achieve this, together with the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD), the RLS is inviting applications from postdoctoral researchers for a visiting fellowship of up to 6 months, with a starting date in October 2020

As a visiting scholar in Kassel, Germany, the fellow will be able to establish a dialogue with local researchers and explore possibilities of collaborative research and projects. She or he will be able to use all ICDD facilities, such as the library, as well as enjoy the academic environment of the University of Kassel. We also strongly encourage applicants to engage in teaching and outreach activities at the ICDD (details can be discussed at a later stage). The ICDD hosts two Master programs, the academically oriented MA Global Political Economy and Development and the MA Labour Policies and Globalisation. The latter is part of the Global Labour University network, which trains trade unionists and labor activists from around the world on labor-related policy issues. The core of the ICDD is its Graduate School of Socio-Ecological Research for Development.

The fellow will be part of the RLS’s International Research Group on Authoritarianism & Counter-Strategies. As such, she/he will have the chance to collaborate with the RLS and participate in the activities of the group. The fellowship explicitly aims to contribute to a global dialogue between scholars who seek to better understand the rising and seemingly global spread of authoritarianism and advance a path towards a just, democratic society.

We are especially interested in approaches that propose a global perspective for and from the Global South on this issue. To what degree can (historical and contemporary) experiences of authoritarian practices in the Global South contribute to a global understanding of the phenomenon today? 


Authoritarian Urbanism 
Global Perspectives from the South

A call for applications for short-term postdoctoral fellowships by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute Freiburg, Germany

Application deadline was 21 February 2020. Closed

Download full call

Eligibility: Postdoctoral researchers from ODA-recipient countries based at research institutions in countries of the ‚Global South‘.

The Global Scholarly Dialogue Programme is an initiative of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (RLS) aimed at supporting critical research in and from countries of the Global South, and at strengthening dialogue between critical research on authoritarian capitalism from the Global North and South. To achieve this, together with the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI), the RLS is inviting applications from postdoctoral researchers for two visiting fellowships of up to 6 months, with a starting date in September 2020.

As visiting scholars in Freiburg, Germany, fellows will be able to establish a dialogue with local researchers and explore possibilities of collaborative research and projects. Fellows will be able to use all ABI facilities, such as the library, as well as enjoy the academic environment of Freiburg University. We also strongly encourage applicants to engage in teaching and outreach activities at the ABI (details can be discussed at a later stage). The fellows will be part of the RLS’s International Research Group on Authoritarianism & Counter-Strategies. As such, they will have the chance to collaborate with the RLS and participate in the activities of the group.

The fellowships explicitly aim to contribute to a global dialogue between scholars who seek to better understand the rising and seemingly global spread of authoritarianism and advance a path towards a just, democratic society. We value research output that combines rigorous academic work with scholar-activist methodologies (i.e. participant observation, collaborative research).


Authoritarian Capitalism, Reactionary Populism & Emancipatory Counter-Strategies: Global Perspectivesfrom the South.

A Call for Applications from the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung for postdoctoral fellowships at research institutions in countries of the Global South, as part of an International Research Group on Authoritarianism & Counter-Strategies 

Application deadline was 4 August 2019. Closed.

• Download full call

Short Description

The Global Scholarly Dialogue Programme is an initiative of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (RLS) aimed at supporting critical research in countries of the Global South, and at strengthening dialogue on crucial international political and social issues, both internally, between countries in the South, and between the Global South and the North. To achieve this, the RLS will fund up to 10 postdoctoral fellowships for a period of up to 26 months (funding ends in December 2021) for research by scholar-activists on authoritarian capitalism, reactionary populism, and emancipatory counter-strategies. 

The postdoctoral researchers will be based mainly at institutions of their choice in Latin America, Asia, Africaand Eastern Europe and we ask interested scholars to choose a suitable institution and mentor for their project themselves. Nevertheless, participation in regular global and regional workshops as well as other digital and analogue forms of collaboration will be key to our goal of establishing an International Research Group on Authoritarianism & Counter-Strategies. Participants are also strongly encouraged to spend up to six months of the funding period (firstor second semester 2021) as visiting scholars in Germany, during which they will work on collaborative projects with other participating researchers (the RLS will support researchers with their search for an appropriate host institution in Germany during the first year of the program).

With this call-out, the RLS is seeking research proposals on the global entanglements of authoritarian politics, reactionary movements and ideologies, and emancipatory counter-strategies. We are especially interested in studies that propose a global perspective for and from the Global South on this issue. That is, studies that critically relate regional problems to global economic and power relations and transnational actor networks, and propose creative, inter- and transdisciplinary research strategies. We favour scholar-activist methodologies—i.e. rigorous academic work that is embedded in actual left-wing political projects, movements or initiatives—and are looking for research output that reflect this scholar-activist character.

The programme’s explicit goal is to contribute to a global dialogue between radical progressive scholars and activists who seek to better understand the rising tide of global authoritarianism, develop emancipatory counter-strategies, and advance a different path towards a just, democratic society based on international solidarity in the tradition of the workers‘ and women’s movements, and on the principles of anti-fascism and anti-racism.