Autonomous U 70:
Neocitizenship: Political Culture after Democracy
17 July 2017-5pm

2 West Roy St.Seattle, WA, 98110

The Autonomous University meets one Sunday a month (usually the last Sunday of the month) at INCA. We are open to anyone of any background or disposition who wants to carry out collaborative, creative, intellectual, &/or political work outside of the university. We will be discussing the texts referenced below.  Read what you can.


We will be reading Eva Cherniavsky’s book “Neocitizenship: Political Culture after Democracy”

In her own words:

“Neocitizenship is animated by the perception that we are living in the midst of a momentous reconfiguration of political order, which seems increasingly to represent either a new stage of capitalism or, perhaps, the beginning of its end—a moment marked, in Slavoj Žižek’s words, by the dissolution of that historic “marriage between capitalism and democracy””

“The policies and practices that have set the conditions of this divorce are generally studied under the heading of “neoliberalism,” and following Foucault, studies of neoliberalism have tended to dwell on the relation of economics to the micro-political…  It is only more recently that critical thought on neoliberalism has addressed the macro-political, the gravitation of capitalist states to fundamentally oligarchical and autocratic forms of government, a gravitation that I describe in this book as the dismantling of the modern political field.”
Cherniavsky argues that what we commonly call a “citizen” today remains unclear, since, after all, the aim of… neoliberal pedagogy is to dissolve the relation of subjects to governments….”  She asks: “If the state no longer operates on a claim to represent the general interest of a national people, how is the relation of governing institutions to a governed population transformed?”
“Can we imagine forms of popular political mobilization that are not routed through the idea of a “people” asserting its sovereignty against the repressive agency of the state?

“In exploring the afterlives of citizenship, this study turns to the arena of vernacular culture, in particular a selection of materials culled from recent print fiction and television, which confront the implications of de-democratization for citizenship and popular political agency in what I take to be richer, at once less coherent and more insightful, ways than most of the political theory of the historical present.”

From the publisher:
Drawing on a range of political theories, Neocitizenship suggests that theory is at a disadvantage in thinking the historical present, since its analytical categories are wrought in the very historical contexts whose dissolution we now seek to comprehend. Cherniavsky thus supplements theory with a focus on popular culture that explores the de-democratization for citizenship in more generative and undecided ways. Tracing the contours of neocitizenship in fiction through examples such as The White Boy Shuffle and Distraction, television shows like Battlestar Galactica, and in the design of American studies abroad, Neocitizenship aims to take the measure of a transformation in process, while evading the twin lures of optimism and regret.