PANEL 3 – ETHICS and THEORY
Between common objectives and personal interest, what is the interest of an intersectoral dialogue for the advancement of knowledge on social mobilizations?
Chairperson: Mona Lilja, University of Gothenburg
Presenting analyses of alterpolitical action, whether as a reflexive activist or an engaged researcher, doesn’t go without posing questions of loyalty and legitimacy. While scientific work requires a critical approach, it contains the risk of undermining a political project (Kirsch 2018: 29). How, where and when to communicate about such movements in a way that is both respectful of established relations and responds to scientific/academic expectations? Considering that ethical guidelines can only indicate directions, but that we learn most by reflecting on each other’s experiences, we encourage participants to share dilemmas they have been facing so to commonly think through and with them.
Another aspect to be analyzed is that, hen social militants and researchers, scholars or practitioners, strive to build an ecology of knowledge, they are sometimes faced with the requirement to operate intersectoral translations that may also be intercultural (De Sousa Santos 2011: 40–44). Through this encounter, the need emerges to operate a work of defamiliarization (idem: 45) of dominant or hegemonic epistemologies. In Southeast Asia, knowledge production is often in tension between authoritatively imposed limitations to academic freedom and neoliberal utilitarian injunctions in the production of knowledge. In this context, how does the intersectoral synergy enable to name the systems, to identify the links existing between various forms of exploitation, oppression and hierarchies (Cox 2019: 82)? How can solutions to systemic problems be elaborated in the frame of an “expansive learning”, namely when the interactions between the different actors renew their understanding of everyone’s activities, thereby transforming the shapes of collaboration (Barker 2014) ? We welcome contributions describing convergences between struggles (eco–socialism, eco–feminism, anti–capitalist “movements of movements” etc.) and the contributions of intersectoral dialogue to these struggles.
Cox, Laurence, « Pedagogy from and for social movements: a conversation between theory and practice », Capitalism Nature Socialism, 30 (1), 2019.
de Sousa Santos, Boaventura, « Épistémologies du Sud », Études rurales, 187, 2011: 21–49. Kirsch, Stuart, Engaged Anthropology: Politics Beyond the Text, Oakland: University of California Press, 2018.
Barker, Colin, “Expansive Learning Under Fire”, Paper to CRADLE workshop, Helsinki, 2014.
- Anugrah, Iqra (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies & LP3ES) – Scholars as Surplus–Value Appropriators: Reflection of Life in Scholarship and Activism
Scholars of social movements and other related topics in academia and activism are often seen as vanguards of intellectual rigor, moral integrity, and left–wing/left–liberal political sensibilities. As researchers of progressive causes, the trajectories of social movement scholars tend to be evaluated through a sympathetic lens: as direct participants or fellow travelers of the marginalized. Further, attempts to provide critical examinations of these socially–engaged scholars are sometimes eclipsed by the more pressing need to study the internal dynamics of social movements and their interactions with the broader political and economic structures and the prevailing social norms. Unfortunately, this approach overlooks the varied forms of agency of the scholars and their complex relationship with the very social forces and groups that they supposedly represent. Equally important, it masks the unequal relations between the intellectuals and the movements they engage with. A more sober approach in studying social movement scholars and their contradictory positions within the existing class relations and democratic class struggle is therefore needed. Employing a Marxian political economy perspective, this study seeks to investigate the not–so–hidden side of the scholarly profession: its rent–seeking, value–appropriating tendency. By looking at the political economy of social movement studies, the role played by scholars in the said field, and on–the–ground dynamics of social movement research and activism in Southeast Asia particularly Indonesia, I propose several tentative claims. First, the increasingly neoliberal research and cognitive sectors, which affect even the supposedly–progressive social movement studies, exacerbates the process of class differentiation among scholars and researchers of social movements. An increasing number of these scholars join the swelling rank of cognitariat, whereas a selected stratum becomes part of the professional– managerial class in academia and the development industry. Second, the latter becomes new intellectual brahmins who play a role as surplus–value appropriators who enjoy economic, cultural, and, to a lesser extent, political benefits from their position in the neoliberal research sector at the expense of precarious scholars and marginalized communities. Lastly, I interrogate my own position as an early–career researcher of Indonesian social movements, show my own complicity in the social movement research industrial complex and its profit motive, and reflect on possible ways out of this politico–intellectual impasse.
Biography: Iqra Anugrah is an Affiliated Researcher at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University and a Research Associate at the Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education, and Information (LP3ES). He has published on various aspects of Indonesian social movements and politics in PS: Political Science and Politics, Cornell University Press, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and Marjin Kiri, among others. His research has been supported by leading institutions such as the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Royal Netherlands Institute Southeast Asia Manila Office. In his spare time, he edits for IndoProgress.
- Tremlett, Paul-François (Dept of Religious Studies, School of Social Sciences and Global Studies, The Open University, UK) – Transnational activism and the making and unmaking of moral publics
In this paper, I am interested in processes of composition, by which I mean processes whereby forms – in this case a counter public – come together. In 2019, IBON International and the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (UK) organised for relatives of the victims of President Duterte’s war on drugs to travel to meet members of the European Parliament as well as diasporic and other publics in Europe and the UK. At the same time, the play Tao Po! – Is Anybody There? – which is a dramatic monologue exploring the different perspectives of those involved in Duterte’s drug war including those of victims and perpetrators, was touring Europe. These activities were accompanied by social media posts on Twitter and Instagram among other platforms, using hashtags such as #Stopthekillings and #Warondrugs. This paper focuses on affect and mourning as a Filipino cultural idiom for addressing power, but also as a medium for the making of a moral public that was assembled across borders to bring pressure to bear on the Duterte regime. The objective of this paper is to theorize the role of affect and mourning in the making of this moral public in the context of secular, neoliberal modernity corrosive of moral action, and I draw on Emile Durkheim’s conception of contagious effervescence to do so.
Keywords: affect; moral public; Philippines; mourning; Durkheim
Biography: Paul–François Tremlett is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. His research interests include classical and contemporary anthropological and sociological theories of religion and the broad constitution of religion as a site of inquiry in societies experiencing rapid social change. He is the author of Towards a New Theory of Religion and Social Change: Sovereignties and Disruptions (Bloomsbury 2020) and co–edited Ritual and Democracy: Protests, Publics and Performances (Equinox, 2020). He also co–edits the Bloomsbury Series ‘Religion, Space and Place’.
- Minanto, Ali (Ph.D student at Department Media Studies, Charles University, Czeck Republic) – Street Art as Creative Social Movement: the Practice of Street Art in Yogyakarta in the Post-Soeharto Era
This research deals with street art as a creative social movement in the post-authoritarian era in Indonesia. As public art —that uses public space as its gallery— street art in Indonesia, especially in Yogyakarta, is never absent from the social, economic, political, and cultural issues (Lupinsek, 2017; Barry, 2008). Street art in Yogyakarta has been embroiled in socio-political momentum by offering various discourses, specifically in an urban context. By using multiple mediums and techniques, this art provides an alternative point of view on urban issues. Therefore, street art does not solely produce aesthetic visuality but a new social movement. This research investigates how street art in Yogyakarta triggers creative social movement. I employ several theoretical approaches, namely relational aesthetic (Nicolas Bourriaud), The Practice of Everyday Life (Michel de Certeau), and New Social Movement (Alain Touraine & Alberto Melluci). Bourriaud (1998) shows that contemporary art practice is quite close and never excluded from social context. According to de Certeau (1984), there is an essential critical distinction between strategies and tactics in this battle of repression and expression in The Practice of Everyday Life. Touraine (1981) focuses on “the collective action of actors” who resist the social control of historicity and cultural orientation. This research is based on a literature study and interviews with several street artists, such as Samuel Indratma (Apotik Komik) and Anagard.
Keywords: Street Art, Relational Aesthetic, Practice of Everyday Life, Creative Social Movement, Yogyakarta
Biography: Ali Minanto is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Media Studies, Charles University, Czeck Republic. He is also a lecturer at the Department of Communications, Islamic University of Indonesia. As a lecturer, he has carried out research and community service, as well as published books and papers for academic journals and conferences, both at a national and international level. His academic interests focus on visual issues in culture, cultural and media studies, multiculturalism, and politics. He is a producer and researcher for several documentary movies such as “New modes of environmental communication: Four street art experiments”, “The Fighter”, “Balada Kampung Naga” (the Ode of Dragon Village), “Bulan Sabit di Kampung Naga” (The Cresent in Dragon Village), and “Mata Air Mata: the Tale of Water”. He is also a facilitator for photography workshops for rural youth communities.
- Pham Thi, Anh-Susann (Political Science Department, Bilkent University, Ankara Turkey) – Dissident Catholics in Vietnam
The Vietnamese Communist Party has accepted the Catholic Church as a legitimate institution, while ordinary Vietnamese enjoy the freedom of religious practice and religious expression. Political dissent, however, is considered a threat to the party-state’s legitimacy, for which especially Catholics have been regularly prosecuted. This paper invites us to think about the counter-hegemonic force of religious activists as a critique of the given state-society relations and thus, reconsiders the intersectional dialogue between Marxism and Catholicism in Vietnam. Based on original research, this paper shows how two different generations of Catholic dissidents changed their political praxis from a dialogical approach to an anti-Communist Party position, while both constituted a crucial counter-hegemonic force that criticized existing forms of exploitation, oppression, and state control. This research required the researcher to defamiliarize herself with dominant narratives about Catholic dissidents. As a result, this presentation argues that the relationship between dissident Catholics and Marxism/Communism has been shaped by concrete state-society relations of the given times, and in this context, by the changing social position of the VCP.