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Keynote speakers: Sarah Clancy, Jim Hicks, Frank Keizer. Dates: The event will commence in the late afternoon of 5 June and end by early afternoon of 7 June. A collaboration of ‘Contemporary Poetry and Politics’ (FFI2016-77584-P), ASCA, ACGS, and NICA.

Detail Summary
Start date 5 June 2019
End date 7 June 2019
Time 00:00


Contrarianism gains momentum whenever a hegemony consolidates itself to such an extent that there is no longer space for the possibility of alternatives. The aims and the character of contrarian movements show themselves through the interplay of ethics, politics and poetics in concrete examples of contrarian speech and contrarian practices. With the symposium ‘Against the Grain: The Ethics, Poetics and Politics of Contrarian Speech’ we open up a space for the analytical exploration of this interplay, and for a sharing of practices that oppose both the status quo of corporatism and neo-liberalization, and the contrarian movements  appropriating ‘free speech’ from the populist right, the alt-right, and neo-fascism.
Contrarianism can be a mode of getting to know the opponent from a committed position or perspective and, through this analytical practice, can produce dissident knowledges. Contrarianism can be a form of expression; in the face of a stifling hegemony, its poetics can nurture desires and open up new horizons. Contrarian practice can take many forms, among them opposition, resistance, dissent, non-cooperation, contestation, subversion, or sabotage. It can be practiced from within a system, from its margins, or from an outsider position. Today, contrarianism is also weaponized as a rhetorical strategy by political movements that seek to consolidate or radicalize existing power structures (be it regarding class, gender or race), or obfuscate their ruthless pursuit of their economic interests. The contrarian defiance of supposed ‘political correctness’ and the left-liberal ‘elite’ in no small measure has contributed to the success of such movements. This symposium, a collaboration between the research project ‘Contemporary Poetry and Politics’ (FFI2016-77584-P) and the University of Amsterdam, approaches contrarian speech by bringing together the poetic and the analytical, ethics and politics.