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Reclaiming Democracy in the Margins of Europe: Public Space and the Cosmopolitics of Citizenship beyond the Polarity of “East”-“West”

Engaging with the multilayered discursive, conceptual and affective regimes of the European political program, I am interested in what its multiple genealogies might signify for contemporary practices of geographical, geopolitical, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary bordering and border-crossing; what acts of appropriation and criticism the Enlightenment project implicates us in; what histories of the “east” and “west” European and eurocentric values have activated; and what are the possibilities for radicalizing the Enlightenment political and epistemic legacy in current contexts of transnational citizenship. Building on theorizations of ambivalent and shifting borderings of “east” and “west”, as well as of processes of de-colonization and de-orientalization, I inquire into emerging configurations of democratic politics, freedom, citizenship, and the body politic.

My organizing research question is this: How do we reread philosophically the European political project and its critical appropriations through the prism of recent democratic uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East and ongoing struggles against neoliberal excesses in the European South? These political geographies are examined comparatively, in their ambivalently common positioning vis-à-vis the boundaries of Europe. I search the intersections of democratic claims and embodied subjectivities, as they played out in the context of those events of reclaiming public space through means of precarious (albeit exhilarated) collectivity. In this context, I focus on emerging and renewed claims of human dignity, equality, self-determination, autonomy, public space and democratic critique.

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