Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Book Launch: Slogans - Subjection, Subversion and the Politics of Neoliberalism

07 December 2018, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm


Speakers: Dr Anne-Christine Trémon, IAS Visiting Research Fellow and Dr Nicolette Makovicky, University of Oxford. Respondents: Professor Rebecca Empson, Department of Anthropology and Professor Jennifer Robinson, Department of Geography

This event is free.

Event Information

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

Contributing editors: Nicolette Makovicky (Departmental Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies, University of Oxford); Anne-Christine Trémon (Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Lausanne); Sheyla S. Zandonai (Research Associate, Laboratoire Architecture Anthropologie, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris – La Villette).

Focusing on contexts of accelerated economic and political reform, this volume critically examines the role of slogans in the contemporary projects of populist mobilization, neoliberal governance and civic subversion. Bringing together a collection of ethnographic studies from Slovakia, Poland, Abu Dhabi, Peru, and the People’s Republic of China, the contributors analyze the way in which slogans both convey and contest the values and norms that lie at the core of hegemonic political economic projects and ideologies.

Conceptualizing slogans as a particular form of political technology, the contributions illustrate how slogans - as ‘formulas with an effect’ - can be used to legitimate neoliberal agendas while championing the construction of new societies and citizens. However, these studies also show how the performative and semantic qualities of slogans make them more than tools of hegemonic mobilization. Designed to be memorized and repeated, slogans are often re-cycled from one historical situation to another. They circulate at different scales; between cities and states, citizens and bureaucracies, local interests and global capital.

Throwing light on the official and unofficial uses made of slogans, the authors demonstrate how the uses and meanings of slogans at times contest economic reforms, challenge policies, and offer counter-narratives to official histories. They show how slogans express and instantiate the uneven and situated politics of neoliberalization; illustrate the alignments of neoliberal policies with local actors and grassroots perceptions; and document the deeper histories of the popular contestations which they trigger.

In short, these studies constitute a novel way of examining public valorisations of entrepreuneurialism, marketization and the moral injunctions of civic accountability, as well their hidden negatives (class polarization, dispossession, democratic closure, and technocratic authoritarianism).

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