A Conference and Edited Collection
In 2016, the University of Toronto Press published a timely collection on the rise of social phobias and the political production of fear as a mechanism of social control, regulation, and repression in the period of neoliberal global capitalism. Manufacturing Phobias: The Political Production of Fear in Theory and Practice, edited by Hisham Ramadan and Jeff Shantz, examined fear politics, especially as developed and deployed by neoliberal governments (conservative and liberal) and Right-wing groups, and the targeting of specific communities, particularly racialized and migrant communities, as objects of social fear and public threat. Wide-ranging chapters analyzed the social, economic, and political aspects of these phobic practices as developed in several international contexts.
That collection, put together before the rise of Trump and the alt-Right, prefigured and predicted many of the essential features of those reactionary political movements and perspectives. Now, more than a year into the Trump regime, with open mobilization of fascists in diverse liberal democracies, street battles between fascists and antifascists (ANTIFA), and the killing of antifascists (like Heather Heyer in Charlottesville) and antiracists (as in Portland, Oregon) by far Rightists, there is a pressing need to explore the causes of social phobias, understand the practices governments and community groups that promote and pursue phobic politics, and to assess the state of resistance to social phobias.
Many questions related to the treatment of the “Other” need to be answered. If we utilize Trumpism as an example, several questions would be of great interest. Does the rise of Trumpist ideologies, as examples of the anti “Other,” represent symptoms of unspoken social problems in addition to the obvious ones of racism and sexism? If so, what are the unspoken social problems? What are the means to counter these social problem?
Thus, we call for papers on topics related to causes, resistance to and alternatives to social phobias and fear politics in the current period. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:
Migrant solidarity movements, no borders movements, no one is illegal politics
Black Lives Matter
International solidarity movements
Indigenous resistance and land struggles
Anti-settlerism and anti-colonialism
Community self defense movements
Labor solidarity and rank-and-file workplace organizing
Anti-policing and anti-repression organizing
Alternative social visions—anarchism, socialism, communism, etc.
Papers will be presented publicly for feedback and discussion, hopefully making contributions to community debates and active struggles, at a three-day conference during February of 2019 in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories (BC). These papers will then be collected in a special volume on Causes and Resistance to Social Phobias, edited by Hisham Ramadan and Jeff Shantz.