Changing notions of culture and politics require and reflect the changes in the ways academic knowledge is produced, evaluated, and consumed. In the current global politics marked by the rise of populism of various shades, the institutions of higher education as well as professional academics have been at the receiving end of the state’s overt and covert forms of control and repression. While antecedents of these trends can and should be traced in the past, a series of ongoing events press hard to evaluate the nature of populism afresh.
While populism needs to be looked at both historically and sociologically, from both above and below, the legitimacy of the populist governments and ruling dispensations rests on the mandate of ‘popular support’. The entwined question, of course, is also of how such dispensations create, fabricate, and propagate a uniform and homogenised notion of the popular, tied to the idea of authentic, singular notion of nationhood or ethnic purity.
The proposed colloquium series intends to bring scholars from diverse regions to reflect both on the practices of the state as well as on the modes and means of interaction that manufacture populism. One of the core aims of this lecture series will be to avoid reiterating rhetorical stances in just blaming the states – which is far easier to do – but to adopt a dialogical process to understand the relationship between ‘elected autocracies’, political populism, and civil society, which is shaped through new means of social media, fake news, visual aids such as memes, and of course, by legal means, identification politics, and control over institutions ranging from universities to newsrooms. Situating the role of academia in the politics of the state and the popular is our core theme of deliberation.
The colloquium 2020/21 is organised by Dr. Nitin Sinha.