Between and Beyond Identity-Political B/Orders

Felix Hoffmann (Chemnitz)


Political orders in the nexus of neoliberal capitalism and nation-state-governmentality are first of all defined by various forms of identity-politics in the widest sense of the concept. Identity politics has an epistemic character in the Foucauldian sense: Between and beyond the logics of identification and respectively bordering and boundary-drawing, the political as a distinct sphere of human agency seems almost inconceivable today. More or less clearly defined identifications follow a practical logic of ordering the social and the cultural along horizontal segregations as well as vertical stratifications. Normative aims of equality and equity are constantly effaced. Aggressive Identitarianism can always be practiced one-sidedly, by boundary-drawing and politically fighting against difference and diversity. Defensively emancipative identity-politics can always be practiced one-sidedly as well, by boundary-drawing and fighting political enemies – but then inevitably competing with other deprivileged identities for socio-cultural recognition and public visibility (Hoffmann 2019). Alterity-politics (Nealon 1998), by contrast, is practically based in mutual responsibility, commitment and dialogue with conflicting identifications, where solidarity beyond borders and boundaries arises. It requires a voluntary and mutual questioning of socio-cultural identifications and privileges. It is a process of political, practical, affective as well as aesthetic and cognitive debordering which creates new common ground as well as new, open and hybrid alterities beyond the conventional logics of identity-related boundary-maintenance. Alterity-politics is a mode of the political which is diametrically opposed to the practically one-sided logics of identity-politics, with the fundamental weakness in practice that it cannot be practiced least enforced one-sidedly, but only accomplished in mutual agreement. (Hoffmann 2019) The panel features contributions circling around the political, social, cultural, affective, aesthetic and cognitive practices and practical logics of b/ordering identities in view of de- and reordering the political by means of alterity-political practices. For such an endeavour it is crucial to acknowledge, that identity-politics cannot be overcome by peaceful dialogue alone, due to its one-sided character: When dominant identities insist on maintaining unquestioned identifications, there must be opposition. Thus, identity-politics remains inevitable in defensively emancipative struggles.


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