CFP: EISA Section on Popular and Cultural Configurations of International Politics

CFP: EISA Section on
Popular and Cultural Configurations of International Politics:
Artefacts Beyond Mimesis

September 23-26, Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Section Chairs: 
Matt Davies
Newcastle University 
Matt.Davies@ncl.ac.uk 

Simon Philpott
Newcastle University 
Simon.Philpott@ncl.ac.uk 

The surge of interest in popular culture in International Relations, such as 
Drezner’s encounters with Zombies, has yielded research that illustrates 
different problems of the international. Such scholarship treats popular 
culture as mimetic, as site where real concerns are copied and can be dealt 
with in a controlled, experimental way. Mimesis is very important, as 
Benjamin noted, as an element of interaction with the world and of learning. 
The reflection is not the same as the thing imitated: the creative agent 
alters it in reproduction. This mimetic transformation may be productive and 
violent. It is at the root of the aesthetic subject. This transformative 
potential of popular culture has not been engaged widely by International 
Relations. If this aesthetic dimension to the engagement of IR with popular 
culture has only been taken up at the margins of IR scholarship, 
consideration of its popular dimension has been even scarcer. “Popular” is a 
specifically political concept, an understanding of how people come together 
to become collective subjects. This coming together can also be productive, 
or it can be violent. This ambivalence lies behind the anxiety provoked by 
accusations of “populism” and the disposition that Rancière calls “hatred of 
democracy.” The notion of popular does not presuppose the political outcomes 
of this coming together nor does it exclude other forms of collectivity 
(nation, multitude). The specific difference of “popular” culture might have 
been the occasion for a wider engagement with how the political is imagined 
by IR but such an engagement is still lacking.

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