Readers may be interested in this workshop — The Gentrification of the Political — at the University of Kent, in June. The schedule includes a keynote talk from Cynthia Weber. The abstracts are due on April 11, 2016.
The language of ‘the gentrification of the political’ recalls, for me, Ben Arditi’s analysis of populism in his Politics on the Edges of Liberalism. I’m fond of his example of the dinner party:
“[Populism] is a symptom of democratic politics; it grants visibility to the founding negativity of the political by summoning the disruptive ‘noise’ of the people. To illustrate this we can think of the discomfort caused by a guest who has had a drink too many. He can disrupt table manners and the tacit rules of sociability by speaking loudly, interrupting the conversations of others, and perhaps flirting with them beyond what passes for acceptable cheekiness. it is not always easy to get rid of the awkward guest even if the hosts are not particularly happy with him, so they will do their best to downplay his antics and make the rest feel as comfortable as possible. Populism plays the role of the awkward guest. It is the paradoxical element that functions both as an internal moment of liberal democracy and as a disruption of the gentrified domain of political performances. Whether it is by disregarding the ‘table manners’ of democratic politics or by observing them in a discretionary way, the ‘disruptive noise’ of populism stands in for the return of the repressed in the sense of the negativity of the political” (Arditi 2007, 78).