The Non-Performativity of Protest
Politics and the Erotics of Resistance
In the past decades there has been a proliferation of protest movements that seek to reconfigure radical politics by way of interpellating a global demos that has been wronged by the neoliberal beast. Street politics seem to have transformed the way power, agency and resistance are being perceived and performed. Protest movements in different parts of the world evoke promises of radical political change through shaming powerful states and international institutions into good behavior.
However, the question remains, how effective are these fantasies of radical change through “hashtag activism” and “twitter insurgencies” in fundamentally transforming social, political and economic relations in the era of postcolonial late capitalism?
In my talk I will examine the romantic enthusiasm evoked by these movements and how they erase the exploitative and exclusionary material conditions that make possible the exercise of agency of the protesters. In my view, this erotics of resistance is marked by a new international division of labor which sustains the discontinuities between those who resist and those who cannot. Spaces of resistance themselves produce exclusions thereby complicating any easy understanding of power, agency and vulnerability.
Nikita Dhawan is Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Gießen, Germany. Her publications include: Impossible Speech: On the Politics of Silence and Violence (2007); Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World (ed., 2014); Global Justice and Desire: Queering Economy (co-ed., 2015); Negotiating Normativity: Postcolonial Appropriations, Contestations and Transformations (co-ed., 2016); Difference that makes no Difference: The Non-Performativity of Intersectionality and Diversity (ed., 2017) and Reimagining the State: Theoretical Challenges and Transformative Possibilities (ed., forthcoming). She received the Käthe Leichter Award in 2017 for outstanding achievements in the pursuit of women’s and gender studies and in support of the women’s movement and the achievement of gender equality.